Top barristers launch corporate arbitration service

Armistice offers quick, binding decisions at fraction of court cost in commercial disputes

Some of the State’s top barristers and a retired Court of Appeal judge are involved in a new online arbitration service launched on Tuesday. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Some of the State’s top barristers and a retired Court of Appeal judge are involved in a new online arbitration service launched on Tuesday. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

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Some of the State’s top barristers and a retired Court of Appeal judge are involved in a new online arbitration service launched on Tuesday.

The service, which says it can offer quicker binding decisions at a much reduced cost to commercial clients seeking to settle disputes, is being launched against a growing backlog of cases in the High Court caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Armistice says it has developed a dispute resolution technology platform that offers a digital alternative to the traditional courts.

The platform, founded by Setanta Landers, a partner at Hatstone (Ireland) LLP Solicitors, provides access to binding decisions from lawyers to resolve commercial disputes.

Head of the Commercial Division of the High Court Mr Justice David Barniville said the pandemic has meant the courts have had to embrace new technologies and practices while adhering to public health guidelines.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to ease the current backlog and strengthen digital security, Armistice provides a further alternative to existing platforms on the market that can cater for a broad range of needs,” he said.

Parties to a dispute register with Armistice, upload their submissions, arrange for directions and a hearing (if necessary), and ultimately have access to a binding determination within a timeframe of weeks, according to the new service.

“A typical High Court case can cost hundreds of thousands of euro per party and take years to resolve,” Mr Landers said. “With Armistice, we are offering remarkable transparency and certainty on the fees, time frame and quality of experience, making us absolutely unique in Ireland today.”

Prices range from €5,000 up to €40,000 per party depending on the value of the dispute.

The barristers who will work on the disputes are: Emily Egan, Martin Hayden, Aidan McRedmond, Gavin Mooney, Patrick F O’Reilly, Thomas P Hogan and Gary DP McCarthy. Mr Justice Michael Peart, formerly of the Court of Appeal, is also involved.

Mr Landers said he has partnered with Australian company Modron on whose technology the new platform is built.

“Out of every crisis comes innovation and our technology can further support the digitalisation of the Irish Courts Service as we emerge from the pandemic,” he said.

Adjudicating a dispute

The new service allows parties to choose a lawyer from the panel to adjudicate their dispute and provide a legally binding outcome.

Armistice is purpose built to protect the confidentiality of proceedings, provide high resolution audio-visual abilities and ensure parties have access to their own secure electronic space to enable private meetings of subgroups as well as shared spaces, Mr Landers said.

Each party can share files, information and sensitive materials in their space and the joint space without worrying about data security or compromising confidential documents.

Mr O’Reilly said arbitration has been under used in Ireland in favour of mediation and the courts.

“The launch of Armistice opens up arbitration to a range of parties in a way that makes this method of dispute resolution more accessible than ever before.”

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