What is the Pandemic Business Dispute Resolution Service?

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused massive economic dislocation around the world. The crisis and its associated lockdowns have created an environment that is ripe for contractual disputes. Litigation may be unsuitable or unaffordable for many businesses whose priority is the preservation of commercial relationships. It is vital that firms can access a mechanism to avoid and resolve their disputes efficiently and affordably.

The Pandemic Business Dispute Resolution Service is a collaboration between two of the leading global dispute resolution organisations – the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb).

The service is aimed at supporting businesses facing disputes (or potential disputes) resulting from the pandemic and offers a low-cost, constructive path to resolution that prioritises speed, affordability and effectiveness. The process can cater to a range of different business and contractual issues, whatever stage the dispute is at.

Video introduction to the service

View an introduction film of the service (on the right), hosted by James South, Managing Director of the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), and Catherine Dixon, Director General of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) or view the film on this link.

How it works

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused massive economic dislocation around the world. The crisis and its associated lockdowns have created an environment that is ripe for contractual disputes. Litigation may be unsuitable or unaffordable for many businesses whose priority is the preservation of commercial relationships. It is vital that firms can access a mechanism to avoid and resolve their disputes efficiently and affordably.

The Pandemic Business Resolution Service is a collaboration between two of the leading global dispute resolution organisations – the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb).

The service is aimed at supporting businesses facing disputes (or potential disputes) resulting from the pandemic, and offers a low-cost, constructive path to resolution that prioritises speed, affordability and effectiveness. The process can cater to a range of different business and contractual issues, whatever stage the dispute is at.

Option 1.

Facilitated Contract Negotiation between the parties with a neutral to agree a change to the relationship. This option is for businesses looking to avoid a dispute arising in the first place.

Option 2.

Mediation involves a neutral working with the parties to allow them to agree a resolution to a dispute that has already arisen.

Option 3.

Fast-Track Arbitration leading to a final and binding award decided by a single arbitrator.

The parties are free to choose which option they want to pursue based on their needs and whether they want to attempt each mechanism in sequence depending on whether a solution is found at each step.

This service is designed to be conducted entirely online to allow the process to be as smooth as possible.

  • A neutral will work with the parties to find a mutually acceptable modification in a contractual relationship where a negotiation needs assistance or has stalled.
  • The process will be conducted online and in as swift a manner as possible, as mutually agreed with the parties.

To apply to use the Facilitated Contract Negotiation Service, please complete and submit the Facilitated Contract Negotiation Booking Form and Agreement available here to [email protected].

  • Mediation is a flexible process whereby an independent neutral will work with the parties to help them agree a resolution to their dispute. Any agreement is at the discretion of the parties – the Mediator cannot impose a solution.
  • Parties will file their enquiry online and will have access to a case adviser if needed.
  • Fixed fee mediation provides the services of a mediator for a fixed price that covers initial contact with the parties and preparation and mediation time itself up to a maximum of 10 hours in total.
  • Parties must agree to the date they want to meet with the mediator together online. They will then be given the names of mediators who are available on that date, and the parties must agree on one mediator.
  • The mediation will be delivered virtually via Zoom videoconferencing, or any other agreed platform, to speed up access to the scheme and resolution of the issues.
  • We can arrange the mediation within 48 hours, or less if pending court action requires it, but recommend parties give themselves at least a week's notice in which to prepare.

To apply to use the Fixed-Fee Mediation Service, please submit the Pandemic Business Dispute Resolution Service Mediation Booking Form and Mediation Agreement available on this link to [email protected].

Business Arbitration Service

  • Arbitration is a non-judicial process for the settlement of disputes where an independent third-party, an arbitrator, makes a binding decision. The role of an arbitrator is similar to that of a judge, though the procedures are less formal, and arbitrators are often an expert in their own right.
  • The Business Arbitration Service provides simple, cost-effective, and timely resolution for disputes of low to medium monetary value (£5,000 - £250,000). The amount recoverable in legal fees is limited to £1,000 to dissuade parties from incurring high legal costs.
  • This service is fully online – there is no hearing unless specifically requested.
  • The service offers a final and legally binding award in less than 90 days from the appointment of the arbitrator and is simple enough to allow most businesses to present their own case without legal representation.
  • Formal procedural steps are kept to a minimum to shorten the timetable and the award is enforceable in the same way as a court judgement.
  • This process is private and confidential.

To apply to use the Business Arbitration Service, please submit the PBDRS Arbitrator Appointment Form to [email protected].

Applications will be referred to arbitration under the CIArb Business Arbitration Scheme Rules, save it is agreed that the upper limit of claims shall be £250,000 and Clause 8 of the Scheme Rules shall not apply.

This service was established for claims that have arisen where business has been interrupted by difficult operating and trading conditions that are a consequence of the Covid-19 Pandemic; however, anyone can make an application.

  • For a case to be eligible the quantum of claim must be over £5,000 and under £250,000 GBP.
  • The service is priced for two-party disputes. However, additional parties may be added in consultation with CIArb and/or CEDR.
  • Cross-Border disputes are eligible, but the jurisdiction of the claim/negotiation process will be England & Wales.

Guidance on negotiation, mediation and arbitration

There is no fee for this information, which is provided to parties upon filing.

Cost of a facilitated contract negotiation:

Pricing for this facilitation service will work on the same basis as the mediation pricing listed below.

Mediation Costs:

The cost for Mediation is as follows:

  • For up to 10-hour Mediation block- £1000 +VAT per party

As a guide, we recommend 3 hours allocated to document review and 7 hours of party contact including initial preparation calls and the mediation session online.

  • For up to 5-hour Mediation block- £500 + VAT per party

As a guide, we recommend 2 hours allocated to document review and 3 hours of party contact including initial preparation calls and the mediation session online.

There will be additional charges for any mediations that fall outside of these parameters.

Parties who are a not-for-profit or registered charity may apply for their fee to be waived, as part of our pro-bono commitment.

Arbitration Costs

This is a fixed fee service, giving the parties’ certainty as to costs. A fixed fee of £1,250 + VAT is payable by each party on commencement of the arbitration to cover administrative costs and arbitrator fees.

To enquire if your case is suitable for any of the mechanisms provided in this service, please return the Application Form.

Enquire Now

To enquire if your case is suitable for any of the mechanisms provided in this service, please complete and submit the online application form. This will include a short explanation of how the dispute arose, the amount of claim (and any counter-claim) involved, and your preferred choice of resolution mechanism from Facilitated Negotiation, Mediation or Arbitration (if you have one).

We will endeavour to respond within 24 hours during the working week with details of how to file based on what has been requested.

Further information on the Pandemic Business Dispute Resolution Service can be found via the following:

www.ciarb.org/disputes/schemes/bdrs

www.cedr.com/commercial/mediationschemes/bdrs

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a flexible process conducted confidentially in which a trained neutral mediator actively assists people and/or organisations to work towards a negotiated agreement of a dispute. Both parties are in ultimate control of the decision to settle and the terms of resolution.

It can be a far more effective – and much cheaper – way of resolving issues than going through the courts.

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