The extensive use of technology in business transactions and expansion of e-commerce has sparked demands for legal services that are unrestricted by cultural, geographical and language boundaries over the years.
ODR is a process that utilises technologies in a full spectrum of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services including negotiation, mediation, arbitration and others. It brings numerous benefits to the service user, such as enhancing access to justice by reducing costs for dispute resolution, saving time through simplified procedures, further upholding the neutrality of any third party mediator or arbitrator with no bias towards the ethnicity, gender, physical appearance of the parties in dispute. Various international and regional organisations, such as the UNCITRAL and the APEC, are taking active steps to promote and use ODR to provide a reliable and efficient platform to facilitate ADR.
To capitalise on the opportunities brought about by international and regional developments including the BRI and GBA Initiative, the Department supports and promotes the development of an online platform, the Electronic Business Related Arbitration and Mediation (eBRAM) Platform, which provides an efficient, cost-effective and secure platform for online deal-making and resolving disputes among parties in any part of the world by integrating state-of-the-art technology such as Blockchain, Smart Contract and Artificial Intelligence.
The development of eBRAM platform in Hong Kong will not only facilitate deal-making and dispute resolution for global business, investment and trade, but also provide a valuable opportunity for Hong Kong to showcase its excellent legal foundation, renowned legal and dispute resolution professionals, as well as LawTech development capacity in the Asia-Pacific region.
On 2 November 2020, the DoJ Project Office for Collaboration with UNCITRAL (“DoJ Project Office”) was established in the Hong Kong Legal Hub, which provides support to the Inclusive Global Legal Innovation Platform on ODR (“iGLP on ODR”), composing of experts around the world, to facilitate studies on ODR related issues internationally. The UNCITRAL at its 54th Session in July 2021 endorsed the suggestion of the Secretariat to continue to collaborate with the DoJ Project Office and to take part in iGLIP on ODR, so as to utilise the expertise, resources, and connections available to co-operate in promoting, raising awareness and capacity-building in ODR.
To enhance the capability of the local legal and dispute resolution profession to harness modern technology in the provision of their services, the Hong Kong Legal Cloud services was launched on 1 March 2022. The Hong Kong Legal Cloud, an online facility situated in Hong Kong, is equipped with advanced information security technology to provide safe, secure and affordable data storage services for the local legal and dispute resolution industries. See the Hong Kong Legal Cloud Portal designated website: https://hklegalcloud.ebram.org/.