Clauses encouraging parties to arbitration to create all documents in electronic form and conduct all hearings remotely/virtually, where possible.Skip to clause
Why use this?
The virtual hearings clause would codify parties' commitment to greener proceedings.
It would not only reduce the environmental impact of disputes by decreasing carbon costs associated with air travel and paper consumption, but also boost efficiency of dispute resolution through use of technology and digital documents.
It should also be noted that virtual hearings would save costs for the parties involved as there would be no travel to venues where hearings are taking place (which may be considerable for international arbitrations) and fewer or no paper bundles to produce.
How it promotes a net zero future
Traditional arbitration proceedings tend to consume substantial amounts of paper – for example a recent survey of US law firms found that each attorney generates up to 100,000 sheets a year. There were 6288 international arbitrations in 2018.
Unless recycled, paper requires trees, this creates a considerable environmental impact, which could be avoided. ‘100,000 sheets of paper from new sources requires over 8 trees and almost 2,000kWh of energy’. Trees are carbon sinks and are important to removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
Moreover, parties in international arbitration tend to have sizeable teams of lawyers, experts, witnesses and other professionals whose air travel to attend hearings would add up to considerable carbon emissions.
The impact is clear. If 8 trees and 2000kwh are saved by each attorney on each arbitration then there is clear carbon reduction.
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The clauses on this website (and published in our Climate Contract Playbook) have been prepared in good faith on a pro bono basis and are free to download and use. The clauses have been drafted and edited by a variety of lawyers and, as such, the approaches to drafting may not conform to any particular drafting norms. We acknowledge this as a consequence of the collaborative drafting process.
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At present, all the clauses are based on the laws of England and Wales. We encourage the conversion of these precedent clauses for use in other jurisdictions.
Option 1 (basic clause):
- The parties agree that any arbitration commenced pursuant to clause [x] of this Agreement, shall be conducted having regard to the Campaign for Greener Arbitrations’ Green Pledge with a view to reducing the environmental impact of disputes.
- At the outset of any arbitration, each party shall submit to the tribunal its plan for minimising the carbon footprint of the arbitration, including but not limited to its plan for engaging consultants, suppliers and service providers who commit to minimising their carbon footprint.
- The parties shall discuss their plans, agree on how best to manage the carbon footprint of the arbitration and agree review dates for their plans.
- Each party must disclose their total emissions for air travel conducted by all attorneys, paralegals, staff, in-house counsel, clients, experts, witnesses, consultants, suppliers and service providers, for the purpose of preparing for and/or attending any hearing, using an online calculator agreed between the parties.
- All documents and communications exchanged or submitted in any arbitration shall be in electronic form.
- All hearings shall be conducted remotely.
- The tribunal may deviate from paragraphs 4, 5 or 6 above, on its own initiative or on application of a party, on a showing of good cause, and may condition the grant of such application on the payment of reasonable costs [incurred by the non-applying party as a result of the deviation, for example, reasonable costs related to the production (printing, copying, bundling, compiling) and mailing of any hard-copy documents]. [The tribunal, in its discretion, may permit hybrid virtual and in-person hearings as it deems appropriate.]
- [Under paragraph 7 above, the tribunal may also condition such application on the payment of a carbon offset fee to a programme selected by the arbitral institution under whose auspices the arbitration is conducted, or as agreed by the parties.]
Glossary references: Carbon Footprint