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On 17 June 2020, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) and Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) announced that they had joined forces to offer businesses a fast track, low-cost service for resolving commercial disputes.

CIArb is the world’s leading qualification and professional body for dispute resolution and dispute avoidance whilst the CEDR is a London based mediation and dispute resolution body. These two leading dispute resolution organisations created the Pandemic Business Dispute Resolution Service primarily to help deal with disputes arising due to interruptions to business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The service is aimed at any business but is likely to be particularly relevant for small and medium sized business in the commercial property, retail, hospitality and events sectors, as these sectors have been hardest hit by the pandemic.

It is a fixed cost online service which deals with disputes for sums between £5,000 and £250,000. The idea is to enable businesses to settle disputes quickly with the help of dispute resolution professionals, mediators and arbitrators. The service should allow businesses to get back to their business as quickly as possible at a time when it is crucial for them to be generating revenue rather than wasting time and money on disputes.

Catherine Dixon, CIArb Director General and James South, CEDR Managing Director have stated that the service is designed to be as simple as possible themselves. To access the service please go to either CIArb’s Pandemic Business Dispute Resolution page here or the CEDR website here which sets out the various steps to using the service.

This service will likely come as a welcome relief not only to businesses looking to avoid litigation but also to the courts. Concerns were raised in late April by a group of senior retired judges that courts and arbitral tribunals needed breathing space if they were to avoid being overwhelmed by cases created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pandemic Business Dispute Resolution Service may provide this breathing space.

This article is for general commentary only and does not constitute legal advice.  If you would like to discuss any of the issues discussed in this article, please contact Graham Young – gyoung@cheyneygoulding.co.uk 01483 796002.

Cheyney Goulding LLP, solicitors in Guildford, Surrey