The Dispute Resolution Review: Editor's Preface

The Dispute Resolution Review provides an indispensable overview of the civil court systems of 29 jurisdictions. The following chapters aim to equip the curious practitioner with an up-to-date and concise introduction to the framework for dispute resolution in each jurisdiction. Each chapter outlines the most significant legal and procedural developments of the past 12 months and the authors' views as to the big themes predicted for the year ahead. The publication will be useful to anyone facing disputes that cross international boundaries, which is ever more likely in a world that seems to be more interconnected with every passing year.

In compiling the 14th edition of The Dispute Resolution Review, I am reminded that despite the variety of legal systems captured in the publication, there is a clear common denominator. All systems are organised and operate to ensure parties have a means of resolving disputes that they cannot resolve themselves. I am reassured that, despite cultural, traditional and legal differences, the jurisdictions represented here are united by this common thread. It reflects an innate, international commitment to the rule of law and the rights of individuals. This edition will be a success if it assists parties to navigate different legal systems to achieve fair and efficient outcomes for whatever dispute they are facing.

Reflecting on the past year, I cannot help but add to the chorus of people who have noted how challenging, uncertain and tragic the events of the global pandemic have been, and continue to be (as I write this preface, the UK has returned recently to working from home in response to the Omicron wave). The law is a reflection of society, so naturally it has been shaped by these events. However, out of this tragedy has come some good. Our courts and tribunals have been quick to adopt new technology and processes to manage compounding caseloads and necessary new ways of working. As far as I can tell, this has been a global trend and – while there have undoubtedly been challenges – no court system has buckled and had to shut the door to justice. This is a tremendous achievement and a testament to the strength and resilience of courts around the world. It is encouraging to see that some of the emergency measures put in place to cope with the pandemic look set to become permanent features of dispute resolution in the year ahead. Here in my home jurisdiction, England and Wales, the use of remote hearings and electronic evidence, and the implementation of various pragmatic amendments to procedural rules, should make the justice system more accessible and efficient than it was pre-pandemic.

The year ahead, of course, brings new challenges, but also reasons for optimism. The fragility of our climate, and the pervasiveness of big data, will no doubt play more prominent roles in the legal sector's near future. Recent high-profile climate discussions such as COP26 have highlighted the growing urgency around curbing harm to the natural environment. The grassroots of this trend are evident as businesses and regulators set ambitious climate targets, and litigants face contractual, tortious and public law claims for climate-related matters. The Okpabi litigation in the United Kingdom involving parent company tortious liability for an oil spill in Nigeria provides a prominent example of how the natural environment may play a greater role in our courtrooms in the year ahead.

I also suspect disputes relating to the use of data will be a theme in the legal sector in the near future. While the General Data Protection Regulation has set the basic framework for the protection of personal data, we are likely to see more claims relating to the use and abuse of personal data down the track. The United Kingdom Supreme Court in the Lloyd v. Google decision set out a path for group claimants to pursue collective actions in instances of unlawful processing of personal data (although the claimants in that matter, which involved the internet browsing history of 4 million Apple iPhone users, were ultimately unsuccessful). The global nature of big data suggests this trend will not be confined to the United Kingdom.

This 14th edition follows the pattern of previous editions, where leading practitioners in each jurisdiction set out an easily accessible guide to the key aspects of each jurisdiction's dispute resolution rules and practice, and developments over the past 12 months. The Dispute Resolution Review is also forward-looking, and the contributors offer their views on the likely future developments in each jurisdiction. Collectively, the chapters illustrate a continually evolving legal landscape responsive to both global and local developments.

As always, I would like to express my gratitude to all of the contributors from all of the jurisdictions represented in The Dispute Resolution Review. Their biographies can be found in Appendix 1 and highlight the wealth of experience and learning from which we are fortunate to benefit. I would also like to thank the whole team at Law Business Research who have excelled in managing a project of this size and scope, in getting it delivered on time and in adding a professional look and finish to the contributions.

Damian Taylor
Slaughter and May
Harpenden
January 2022

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