Philippines: Recommendation for Virtual Hearings

In brief

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have imposed measures restricting the movement of persons and requiring social distancing. This has led to the suspension of face-to-face meetings, including arbitration proceedings. Instead, arbitral institutions have turned to virtual hearings.

As parties are likely to find themselves having to consider or attend virtual hearings, rules must be formulated to ensure fairness and efficiency while safeguarding the safety of all individuals involved in the arbitration. Parties and arbitral tribunals may refer to this Recommendation for Virtual Hearings (Recommendation) to assist them in this delicate balancing act.


Contents

What the Recommendation contains

The Recommendation aims to reproduce the conditions under which face-to-face hearings are held to the extent allowed by videoconferencing platforms.

To ensure that no party is unduly disadvantaged by the holding of virtual hearings, the Recommendation provides conditions that must be met before deciding to hold a virtual hearing.
To avoid technical issues during the actual hearing and to ensure that the time for the actual hearing will be used efficiently, the Recommendation also suggests pre-hearing preparations for parties and arbitral tribunals. These include prior agreement on the videoconferencing platform and participants to the virtual hearing, preparing hearing bundles, and holding test runs.

General proposals for the conduct of the virtual hearing are also listed in the Recommendation to ensure proper decorum by all parties during the proceedings. These include requiring that all participants be present by audio and video, muting all communication devices, and displaying the items on the participants’ desks at all times.

The security risks involved in parties being in different locations and having multiple access points pose more significant challenges in ensuring the confidentiality of the proceedings and upholding the integrity of the arbitration. To this end, the Recommendation suggests minimum logistical, technological, and security requirements, as well as other measures to protect the confidentiality of the arbitral proceedings and to prevent the coaching of witnesses.

Use of the Recommendation

Parties and arbitral tribunals may adopt the Recommendation in their arbitrations or parties may propose them to the arbitral tribunal. The logistical, technical, and security requirements for holding a virtual hearing may be modified to suit the particular needs and circumstances of the parties.

While the Recommendation is intended for use in virtual hearings for the taking of evidence in arbitration, it can be similarly applied to virtual hearings in court litigation.

You may download the publication here.

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*Authored by Quisumbing Torres, a member firm of Baker & McKenzie International, a Swiss Verein. Please contact QTInfoDesk@quisumbingtorres.com for inquiries.

Contact Information
Donemark Calimon
Partner
Quisumbing Torres, Manila
donemark.calimon@quisumbingtorres.com

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