Updated: Oct 10, 2020
While we are surrounded by the gloom of Covid-19, with blue skies and chirping birds not bringing the usual cheer, the time at hand allows us to introspect on what we are doing and how we will continue doing it going forward.
A few days back we conducted our maiden arbitration hearings for one of our Highway Project through video conferencing. The Arbitration Tribunal, understanding that it may not be possible for parties to remain physical present for hearings for complex and long dragged matter on any sooner date, decided to resume the proceedings through video conferencing.
Obviously, we, being the Claimant, the responsibility of making such arrangements for proceedings is always on us. It started with exploring various video conferencing applications which may suit for the complex matter, involving huge number of claims, counter claims, issues, applications & replies and apparently egos. Finding a suitable platform which will be convenient for all considering the varying age groups of the members involved and their digital literacy. Accessibility to voluminous documents exchanged and filed in the matter during the proceedings without any difficulty. Notably we had with us only 2 days to do all such research and adopt platform to conduct the proceedings without any interruptions.
After spending days & nights experimenting various recognized video conferencing applications such as Microsoft Teams, CISCO Webex, Blue Jeans, etc. (literally conducting mock hearings on each platform) we finally found Zoom Video Communication could suit our purpose.
The other hurdle we were to face was to convince the members of tribunal and opposite party, to agree on Zoom as common platform for the proceedings, considering the widely spread rumours about its ban by Government of India.
We blindly believe hearsay / opinions on Media, Whatsups, FB, etc. without even verifying the facts ourselves. The advisory (𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐁𝐀𝐍), issued by the Cyber Coordination Centre (CyCord) of the Home Ministry, highlighted few vulnerabilities and weaknesses of Zoom. CyCord further advise tweaking certain settings on the app can ensure safety of video conferencing. Similar advisory is published by CyCord about Microsoft 365 in this month marking it at high risk. Will it be practically possible for us to stop using Microsoft 365 applications which includes Words, Excel, etc. It is the function of such government bodies to keep watch on all such applications and highlight risk so that these loopholes can be address in their next update. Zoom updated version 5.0 has satisfactory addressed such concerns of safety and privacy.
While conducting arbitration through video conferencing in these quarantined times, one thing which came to our mind was having correct flexibility and versatility in approach can achieve the purpose while respecting social health concerns. The true star here is the technology which helps us to unlock the true potential of alternate mechanism. Some practical issues do arise such as transmission of voluminous documentation but were resolved through uploading documents on cloud with secured access.
The purpose to cite the above example was that we are entering into a new tomorrow where it is not possible to gauge how long the current restrictions on work and travel will remain. We must evaluate and adopt new ways / alternatives of doing our business. The need of the hour is mental shift from routine and to embrace technology and change the way we live. Our sustainability depends on two key factors: first, the willingness to accept and adopt technology and associated facilities for our business, and, second, the availability of adequate and quality infrastructure particularly in developing countries such as India. Statistics till 2017 shows, nearly 72% of the population does not have any access to internet.
Yes, it may have constraints and drawbacks. But these are early days and depending upon effort being expended in regrouping, reorganizing and optimizing our resources, things may soon change.
Having said that, there is no doubt human efforts complemented with technology may be the new normal during and post the decline of COVID-19. It allows us the opportunity to rethink and restructure our way of living.
This new and uncertain future also holds great promise for diversity in the professionalism. It may also be possible for us now to give equal opportunity to our personnel commitments, hobbies and to continue to do work. These changes could substantially improve the quality of our living and quality of work in general. Provided we do it with enthusiasm and right approach.
Informative work by team of SUBCONTECHNOLEGAL. If you have any questions or if we could be of any assistance, please feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.subcontechnolegal.com