How to use IT to manage disputes efficiently

Disputes, whether in court or in arbitration, can cause substantial amounts of work and thus be very costly for the parties involved, in particular in mass proceedings, where a business is facing high numbers of individual consumer claims.

There are various ways in which disputes can be managed through the use of technology. Using standard wording for briefs has been a common practice for a long time – even though nowadays, smarter solutions are frequently used. However, there are further ideas for how technology can be used to handle disputes efficiently.

1. Know your facts

In Common Law jurisdictions the use of document review platforms is routine. However, their use is not limited to discovery proceedings. Rather, they can be used in any dispute where large amounts of documents and data need to be reviewed to establish the facts of a case. If handled the right way, such platforms can tremendously reduce the costs of reviewing facts even in cases where the amount of documents and data to be reviewed is not excessive. This becomes obvious when one looks at a typical e-mail in which five individuals are copied. If an exchange then starts between the recipients of the e-mail, there will be numerous versions of this e-mail exchange in five pst-files. A human reviewer would have to review all of these versions to identify the one version containing all of the information. This process can be automated so that a human reviewer will only have to read that last e-mail in a chain.

By using predictive coding, the documents review process can even be supported further through the use of technology. However, predictive coding needs human input. A human user reviews a sample set of documents randomly selected from a larger data set, identifying documents that are relevant, not relevant, privileged, and so on. From that human review, the system learns what to look for and will be able to identify relevant and even high-priority documents. Obviously, since a first round of human review is required to teach the system, predictive coding is typically only used in larger proceedings. In this cases, it is, however, not only faster and cheaper but also more accurate than human reviewers as the system never gets tired or bored.

2. Manage your caseload

In particular in mass proceedings, it is essential to maintain an accurate overview of the specifics of each case. Data base solutions can be used to record pre-defined information about cases and make them readily available. This is essential, in particular when larger, or even international, teams are cooperating in multi-jurisdictional disputes.

From a technical perspective, such solutions are not that complex. The most common challenge is to implement such a solution as early as possible and to continue to ensure its accuracy and completeness during as long as the proceedings are pending.

3. Going even one step further!

Legal research is a costly but essential part of disputes. Here, too, there is an opportunity for the use of AI in the future. One example is LitiGate which has partnered with a number of UK law firms (including Taylor Wessing) to develop an AI algorithm that can be used to analyse legal arguments arising in interim applications in order to suggest potential counter-arguments or highlight the areas of weakness in your own or the opponent’s arguments.

Various forms of AI are already used routinely to assist in the mass review of documents, including audio records, in litigation and regulatory investigations. Careful deployment of the suite of available AI tools allows for the swift identification of the most crucial documents and those which get to the crux of the issue at hand. In this way, the key legal issues or risks are identified at the very beginning of a potential dispute or investigation, which will often influence the course of action to be taken next with the benefit of a more complete understanding of the situation.

The use of AI will change the way we conduct legal research drastically – and hopefully for the better – by enabling lawyers to work more effectively and cost-efficiently for their clients.