Yes, the WIPO Rules allow and encourage parties, mediators and arbitrators to conduct proceedings using online tools (Article 10 WIPO Mediation Rules, Article 37(a), 40, 49(g) and 55 WIPO Arbitration Rules, Article 31(a), 34, 43(g) and 49 WIPO Expedited Arbitration Rules). In addition, mediators and arbitrators have the duty to ensure that proceedings take place with due expedition (Article 11 WIPO Mediation Rules, Article 37(c) WIPO Arbitration Rules, Article 31(c) WIPO Expedited Arbitration Rules). In the WIPO Center’s case experience, this has included the online conduct of mediation meetings and arbitration hearings.
Yes, the WIPO Center has administered proceedings where some parties, mediators, or arbitrators participated in meetings or hearings in-person while others joined through online tools.
Yes, parties, mediators and arbitrators are free to agree on the online platform(s) they wish to use. In WIPO mediations and arbitrations, this has included the use of WebEx, Zoom, Teams, Bluejeans, WhatsApp, and Skype for Business.
Yes, the WIPO Center makes available to parties, mediators and arbitrators, at no cost, secure access to WebEx and Zoom to conduct their proceedings online. This includes WIPO technical assistance in the set-up, preparation, and conduct of meetings and hearings.
Yes, the WIPO Center makes available to parties, mediators and arbitrators, at no cost, WIPO eADR in order to securely submit electronic communications and documents into an online docket. This case management tool enables parties, mediators, and arbitrators in WIPO proceedings to share and access all case-related information through a single and secure portal.
The WIPO Center’s mediation and arbitration experience shows that, depending on the case, certain functionalities should be considered when preparing for online proceedings, including virtual break-out rooms, screen-sharing, as well as chat, private room, waiting room, and recording/transcript functions.
Yes, following the set-up of the meeting or hearing by the WIPO Center, the “host” function can be transferred to the mediator or the arbitrator as agreed with the parties.
Yes, it is useful for parties, mediators and arbitrators to run one or several test sessions to check the features of the selected platform including issues such as internet connectivity, hardware used by participants, video and audio quality. The platform functionalities should also be tested – for example, how to screen share, share files, or how to record the session and save the recording. In WIPO-organized online proceedings, the WIPO Center assists parties, mediators and arbitrators to organize such test sessions to make sure that the features of the selected platform address their needs in each specific case.
Data protection and confidentiality issues may be considered too. The WIPO Rules contain specific provisions regarding the confidentiality of WIPO proceedings (Articles 75-78 WIPO Arbitration Rules, Articles 68-71 WIPO Expedited Arbitration Rules, and Articles 15-18 WIPO Mediation Rules). For more information on the protection of personal data in WIPO proceedings please see here.
Yes, in some remote WIPO online proceedings, parties, mediators and arbitrators have tailored the schedule of meetings and hearings to certain requirements of the online format, and the locations of the parties. For example, in some arbitration hearings, regular five minute breaks were scheduled to account for screen fatigue. Some mediation meetings were organized in two or three half-day sessions spread over several days or weeks, rather than a full-day meeting. Generally, the WIPO Center notes that the online conduct of mediation proceedings normally has a positive impact on the time-and-cost efficiency and settlement rate.
Yes, some online proceedings conducted in several languages involved live interpretation. Court reporters and stenographers have also participated in online arbitration hearings.
Following consultations with parties, mediators and arbitrators may wish to consider issuing guidance to define some key aspects of the online proceedings. In online WIPO cases, such protocols have addressed issues relating to the selected platform(s) (e.g., choice of platform(s), functionalities, identification of the “host”), back-up options in the event of dysfunctionalities, the establishment of timelines for meetings, an undertaking from the parties not to allow the presence of any other participants at their location other than those that had been pre-announced, display of image of all participants at meetings, the (non-)recording of meetings (see Article 15 WIPO Mediation Rules), and data protection.
For further questions regarding WIPO videoconferencing facilities, please contact the WIPO Center by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone at +41 22 338 8247.