A new online ‘legal tech’ platform for arbitration says it can reduce costs and help clear the backlog of High Court actions.
tart-up company Armistice was founded by solicitor Setanta Landers, a partner at Hatstone (Ireland) LLP, and has recruited several high-profile senior counsel and a retired judge to act as arbitrators.
It uses technology developed by Australian firm Modron to provide the platform which offers secure online meetings rooms and document sharing facilities.
Parties to a dispute can register with Armistice, upload their submissions, arrange for directions and a hearing, if necessary, and receive a binding determination within weeks.
A formal launch by Mr Justice David Barniville, the judge in charge of the Commercial Court, will take place online on Thursday.
The development is a significant one in the Irish legal tech sector and comes against the backdrop of a considerable backlog of cases in the High Court as a result of the pandemic.
“The pandemic has required us to embrace new technologies and practices to support court hearings while we adhere to public health guidelines,” said Mr Justice Barniville.
“As part of our ongoing efforts to ease the current backlog and strengthen digital security, Armistice provides a further alternative to existing platforms on the market that can cater for a broad range of needs.”
The price is linked to the value of the dispute.
Flat rate service fees are charged ranging from €5,000 plus VAT for each party for disputes valued between €100,000, and €1m up to €40,000 plus VAT for each party for disputes valued in excess of €8m.
If the parties seek a hearing, a full day’s hearing online would cost €5,000 plus VAT for each party.
“Arbitration is really popular in other jurisdictions. It is really popular on the continent and in the US, but it just hasn’t taken off in Ireland yet for some reason,” said Mr Landers.
“It is very helpful because you have finality. You know in advance how much it is going to cost. You go in, you put forward your case, you get a decision and it is binding on both parties.”
Mr Landers said he was not trying to provide a private court service.
“What I am doing is providing a mechanism where people with net legal issues, or perhaps more complex issues, can have them resolved quickly.”
Mr Landers said the “secret sauce” was having “good, commercial, experienced people in the middle that everybody has trust in”.
The arbitrators include former Court of Appeal judge Michael Peart and experienced senior counsel such as Martin Hayden, Emily Egan, Mark Harty, Tom Hogan, Gary McCarthy and Patrick F O’Reilly.
“Step one is to get this established in Ireland. But really, I want Ireland to be established as a hub of international arbitration,” said Mr Landers.
“Brexit has led to the loss of the entire British jurisdiction for a lot of European disputes, so we can strategically position our self to be that place where international disputes need to go. We already have a pretty good reputation in that area.”