Virtual Arbitration Hearings and Simultaneous Interpretation

As a result of the pandemic, more and more arbitration hearings were held online. After an initial period of doubt and confusion, many parties realized that virtual arbitration hearings have many advantages over face-to-face arbitration. Online arbitration is more practical and less costly, especially in cases involving multilingual parties in several countries. The parties can receive professional services from companies specializing in online hearings, court reporting and interpreting.

During the pandemic period, Enterkon provided more than 150 interpreter days of interpretation services in virtual ICSID and ICC arbitration hearings. We also provided consultancy services to companies which were holding virtual hearings for the first time. Based on our experience, we identified some tips on virtual or hybrid arbitration hearings with simultaneous interpretation.

Fast internet connection: In any virtual environment, the weakest link is the participant with the slowest internet connection. Even if the arbitral tribunal, lawyers and parties have high-speed internet access, witnesses or experts may not have the required connection speed.

Headphones and microphone: Good audio quality is a top priority in virtual meetings. To get the best sound quality, all speakers should use a microphone other than the computer’s own microphone. Sound quality is important for all participants but it is the most important issue for interpreters who listen to the speaker and hear their own voice while interpreting. Interpreters cannot interpret well what they cannot hear well.

Background documents: Access to case files becomes even more important in virtual hearings. Interpreters should have access to the case files and have sufficient time to read and understand hundreds of pages of legal and technical documents.

Rehearsal: To ensure a smooth experience, it is essential for all participants to rehearse from the places where they will attend the hearing and with the equipment they will use at the hearing. All parties to the trial including the arbitrators, counsels, witnesses, court reporters, interpreters and technicians should attend the rehearsal. Multiple rehearsals may be required in complex cases where there are a large number of participants in different locations.