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Nicola Laver

Editor, Solicitors Journal

New digital dispute resolution platform for volume covid-19 disputes

New digital dispute resolution platform for volume covid-19 disputes


A new online framework enabling expedited dispute resolution has gone live to help businesses before it is too late.

A new online framework for expedited dispute resolution has gone live to help businesses before it is too late.

NRF Covid Resolve was designed and launched by a group of energy and disputes lawyers at Norton Rose Fulbright, in less than two months, to help clients deal with the challenges of the volume of disputes arising out of the pandemic.

It is a dispute resolution process supported through a single online platform where parties can opt for mediation, arbitration or mediation followed by documents only arbitration.

The aim of the process – the service is offered at a fixed fee – is to achieve an outcome for each dispute within four to six weeks.

The firm says many companies are finding it difficult to perform some of their contractual obligations, particularly around the application of force majeure and change in law provisions. 

But businesses need to get back to business quickly and fairly; and the firm says alternative dispute resolution “is being actively encouraged” to avoid a deluge of post-covid-19 litigation.

Mediators and arbitrators are selected from a pre-agreed panel of independent sector specialists available through the platform.

Energy disputes partner Neil Q Miller said businesses, governments, judiciary and commentators have all emphasised the need for a different approach to resolve the volume of potential claims arising from the pandemic.

He added: “Many such disputes are not suited to lengthy, procedurally burdensome and costly traditional dispute resolution methods, with businesses being damaged by the impasse created from managing many live disputes with no way of efficiently resolving them.”

This tech will, he said, allow clients to adopt a fast track process through their legal departments

David Carter is the firm’s chief product officer is global lead for NRF Transform.

He said the impact of covid-19 meant clients needed a solution “rapidly or it would be too late to help”.

The platform will initially be rolled out to clients in the energy sector, with plans for the mediator and arbitrator panel to expand over the coming weeks for clients in all sectors.

The firm’s global head of energy, Anne Lapierre, developer of NRF Covid Resolve, said: “The energy industry faces unprecedented challenges from covid-19, compounded by the wider transformation of the sector as it undertakes the essential transition away from fossil fuels.

“As such, we feel it our duty to come up with practical solutions to help clients get back to what they do best as quickly as possible.

“Our unique solution to managing the influx of disputes will do exactly that - an achievement in which our energy and disputes lawyers should take great pride.”