The UK APPG on ADR session on legal services

On Tuesday 30 January 2024, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR APPG) held a session on the recent developments in legal services in the UK and how such services support the UK’s position as a leading jurisdiction for international dispute resolution. 

Christina Rees MP, as the Vice Chair of ADR APPG, chaired the session. Christina opened the session by highlighting the significance of ADR in enhancing access to justice and contributing to the UK’s trade, investment, and business climate. The ever-evolving technology industry and legal landscape, with new challenges, opportunities, and their impact on ADR were discussed. 

Susan Dunn, the Head of Litigation Funding at Harbour, who is also a pioneer of litigation funding in the UK, provided some insightful updates on the implication of PACCAR case on litigation funders in the UK. As a result of the UKSC decision, Litigation Funding Agreement (LFAs) falling under the definition and requirements of Damages-based Agreement (DBAs) would be deemed unenforceable. It is viewed, Susan continued, that such regulation shall not be seen from the perspective of litigation funders, as it differs from counsels or representatives’ stance on the matter. Susan added that, for litigation funding to continue and maintain its existence, renegotiation is taking place to amend the legislation in order to revert back to the pre-PACCAR regime. 

Carlos Carvalho, the Senior Consultant at OPUS 2, a global organisation and a leading provider of legal technology services, emphasised the importance of technology in supporting legal services in the UK and globally. Carlos provided practical examples of how legal services benefit from the use of technology, including online court, mediation, and arbitration proceedings. 

Some law firms and chambers have implemented electronic filing and storage management systems in an attempt to create a paperless working environment., Artificial Intelligence, Carlos added, is the future, if stakeholders make gradual changes in order to maximise the use of technology. 

Jonathan Wood, the President of CIArb, the Chair of International Arbitration at RPC and the Chair of the Board of the London Chamber of Arbitration and Mediation highlighted that legal services have contributed to the British economy around £43.9 billion. Jonathan continued with updates on the Arbitration Bill, which incorporates proposed amendments to the Arbitration Act 1996. Jonathan mentioned that he believes the Bill is uncontroversial and is a significant input to make sure London maintain its international arbitration hub status. 

Christina Rees MP followed with some comments and questions for the speakers and closing remarks. 

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All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are informal cross-party groups that have no official status within Parliament. They are run by and for Members of the Commons and Lords, though many choose to involve individuals and organisations from outside Parliament in their administration and activities. The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Ciarb) act as the Secretariat to the ADR APPG.