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Brunei participates in arbitration, dispute resolution seminar

Ensuring equal access to legal services and the justice system is a fundamental principle of the rule of law and the foundation of the legal profession.

This was highlighted by Chief Justice Dato Seri Paduka Steven Chong yesterday at an online law seminar, the first held by the Supreme Court of Brunei Darussalam and the Department of Justice of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in collaboration with the AALCO Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre (HKRAC) and the eBRAM International Online Dispute Resolution Centre.

“Embracing technology is crucial to effectively serve the public and facilitate equitable access to justice. The use of LawTech, artificial intelligence (AI) and online dispute resolution (ODR) has the potential to enhance and simplify our approach to practicing law and administering justice,” the chief justice said.

AALCO HKRAC Director Nick Chan Hiu-Fung delivered a presentation on the ‘ABCs of LawTech, ODR Platform and Generative AI and the positive impact on access to justice and increasing economic developments’.

Meanwhile, eBRAM International ODR Director Jacob Sin presented on ‘The benefits of the APEC ODR Framework for resolving cross-border disputes and how to use the APEC ODR Rules’.

Both organisations shared their expertise and showcased how their services, including ODR platforms, which can facilitate international trade, digital commerce, and dispute resolution.

Chief Justice Dato Seri Paduka Steven Chong together with representatives from the AALCO Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre, the Department of Justice of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and eBRAM International Online Dispute Resolution Centre. PHOTO: SUPREME COURT OF BRUNEI DARUSSALAM

Participants gained insights into Hong Kong’s latest developments in lawTech, including the use of AI, Blockchain, and Cloud technologies, which are advancing access to justice. The seminar featured discussions on generative AI, such as ChatGPT, and highlighted the APEC Collaborative Framework for ODR for Cross-Border B2B Disputes and the eBRAM APEC Rules. The initiatives encourage the use of ODR to effectively resolve cross-border commercial disputes.

The chief justice also spoke on the adoption of ODR and underscored its potential to improve equality and inclusion to the justice system by offering considerable time and cost savings.

He emphasised that the true value of technology lies in its ability to make legal issues faced by individuals and businesses more affordable, accessible, and efficiently resolved.

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the effectiveness of remote hearings and the Chief Justice stressed the need to “leverage on the successes achieved in the dispute resolution space during the pandemic”.

He added, “It is imperative that (the) legal fraternity keep informed of the advances made in LawTech, AI and ODR so that we are not left behind in modern digitised commercial life.”

However, the chief justice recognised that the accessibility of justice through technology depends on users’ understanding and ability to utilise it effectively and that overcoming barriers such as funding, capacity, skill gaps, and digital literacy is crucial to ensure the development and full potential of technology in resolving disputes.

The seminar marked a significant milestone following the signing of a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) between the Supreme Court of Brunei Darussalam and the Hong Kong Department of Justice (DoJ) in May 2023 which aimed to strengthen ties and enhance cooperation between the two jurisdictions in matters of dispute avoidance and resolution.

The chief justice said the seminar laid a “firm foundation for future cooperation between Brunei Darussalam and Hong Kong and how we have begun to successfully materialise our shared commitment to the MoC through sharing experiences, exchanging ideas and expertise and promoting the delivery of fair, proportionate and timely justice”.

The event brought together stakeholders from the justice system, including the Judiciary, the Attorney General’s Chambers, Brunei Darussalam Arbitration Centre (BDAC), Law Society of Brunei Darussalam, Prime Minister’s Office, and State Judiciary Department.

Also in attendance at the seminar were Secretary for Justice of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Paul Lam, Judicial Commissioner of the Supreme Court Haji Abdullah Soefri bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin and Judicial Commissioner and Acting Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court Muhammed Faisal bin Pehin Datu Juragan Laila Diraja Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Pahlawan Haji Kefli. – Fadley Faisal

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