Better for the planet and the pocketbook…but you lose some of the magic at hearings: COVID-19 arbitration trends that are here to stay

Oct 2022


COVID-19 triggered dramatic changes in the way international arbitration is conducted, but which will remain?  Our partner Amanda Lees, based in Singapore, recently shared her insights with The Legal 500 on the Covid-19 arbitration trends that are here to stay.  Watch the footage here and see the key takeaways below.

The good

  • We’re more tech-savvy, even arbitrators

We’ve all become much more comfortable with [arbitration] technology.

  • There will be more flexibility in terms of the choice of hearing methods in the future

There is a degree of flexibility … [some] hearings will continue to either be conducted virtually or be hybrid.

  • Procedural hearings will go virtual

We would see that a lot of procedural hearings will take place virtually as a matter of course from now on.

  • Virtual hearings have proven efficient, cost-friendly and beneficial to the planet

This would bring so much benefit for the planet as well as obviously for the pocketbooks of the parties.

The Not So Good

  • We’ve lost the in-person connection

While virtual hearings have worked pretty well … you lose some of the magic of a hearing. 

  • This impacts chances of settlement

Having the party representatives attend means that there are more opportunities for settlement, because they actually get to chat to each other over the coffee table or the water cooler. So there are some opportunities to break the barriers that may have occurred given the dispute, and there is an opportunity for people to have a conversation about settlement, which at the moment is not happening.

  • It also impacts tribunal deliberations making them more formal

For the tribunal… if you are all able to have morning tea together or lunch together or dinner together and talk after the day’s hearings, you will explore the issues you have heard.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed our ways of working in one way or another.  Check out our previous posts  on how Covid-19 changed dispute resolution:

Want to hear more of Amanda’s insights?  Check out her other Legal 500 clips on:




Amanda leads KWM’s Dispute Resolution Team in South East Asia. Amanda enjoys getting stuck into knotty legal problems and learning all about her client’s businesses and industries. Based in Singapore since 2012, Amanda is at home in hawker markets as much as the arbitration centre at Maxwell Chambers. When not reading arbitration cases or drafting arbitration awards, pre-Covid Amanda used to love travelling with her family across Asia to clamber over temples, spot tigers, watch cricket and get harassed by monkeys. She is still getting harassed by monkeys hiking around Singapore. Amanda is proud her adopted home has the world’s best airport (Changi) and hopes to be flying again very soon.

Hazel is is a former member of KWM Hong Kong Dispute Resolution Team who is passionate about international arbitration and commercial litigation. Having grown up in Mainland China, Hazel pursued her legal studies in Hong Kong, spent half a year on exchange in Zürich, and enjoys working across cultures and jurisdictions. Hazel can manoeuvre nimbly around legal issues but struggles with her tango steps. Miraculously, being someone who hits the gym once a year, Hazel was named by KWM as the “Up-and-coming Paddler of the Year” in her first Dragon Boat Races.

Subscribe to KWM Pulse Updates