Ask An Expert: Mirèze Philippe

Mirèze Philippe, Special Counsel at the Secretariat of ICC the International Court of Arbitration in Paris, speaks about the key themes of the upcoming Paris GPC event, including the needs of users, diversity in practice and the future of dispute resolution.

Why did you specialise in dispute resolution?

I landed in arbitration without having specifically sought this specialisation. My generation of lawyers was not trained in arbitration because no specific training or LLMs existed in the 1980s and we learned arbitration by practicing it. I started in 1984 at the International Chamber of Commerce in the German team administering arbitration cases because I speak German, and since then I have been building my experience in dispute resolution. The area I have been focusing on since 2000 is online dispute resolution which is fascinating as it offers many facilities of access to justice and is truly the future of dispute resolution.

How is the market currently addressing parties’ needs?

I think that providers are increasingly trying to be attentive to the needs of the users, and the GPC Series is particularly trying to promote a dialogue with all stakeholders, learn about their needs and try to respond to such needs by being innovative. I believe that providers now understand that the services they used to offer in the past is no longer sufficiently satisfactory for the users, and that new services should be offered to respond to the needs of the market and the concern of the users. For instance, most of the major dispute resolution organisations now offer services for emergency arbitrations and for small claims. 

I believe a wide range of dispute resolution processes is now available but I would not say that it is “the full range”, because providers will certainly offer more in the future to respond to the needs of the market. Considering the multitude of methods available to them, users may not be sufficiently aware of all services offered by the providers. It might be useful to organise short panels to focus on the multiplicity of methods and their potential combination.

In what ways do you think the dispute resolution processes are likely to change in the future?

Two important services are missing in my view.

First, a facility which I consider very important and that only a handful of providers offer is online dispute resolution. I have been militating since year 2000 to raise awareness about the use of such facility but it has been so far very hard to convince the professionals and the users about the benefits of using platforms to file and conduct disputes online. Using technology to offer access to justice online will be the subject of a two-day conference in Paris in June 2017 entitled Equal Access to Information & Justice Online Dispute Resolution. This issue will also be discussed on one of the panels I will be chairing at the GPC Paris. The GPC organisers have understood the importance of addressing these issues when looking at the future of dispute resolution; the subject was also raised at previous GPC conferences which have so far been organised around the world. I am confident that the GPC forum will be ideal to address this concern.

The second need that dispute resolution stakeholders need to address is the resolution of consumer disputes. There is a huge market of small cases which are currently being only addressed by some online merchants and very few online dispute resolution providers. I admit that this is not an interesting market for the lawyers but it certainly is for providers. Consumers often face a denial of justice because they have no accessible means to have their claims settled mainly in cross-border disputes, and online settlement of disputes is ideal for such disputes. Domain names disputes are exclusively handled online, consumer disputes should likewise be settled online.

In an article just published in the Revue Pratique de la Prospective et de l’Innovation, I wrote that we walked on the moon but justice is not yet online! This is an unfortunate reality that I truly hope we will be able to overcome in the near future, as this is the future and it is not science