This summer, a 3-part study was published in the Canadian edition of The Lawyer's Daily, in which lawyers Barry Leon (arbitrator of the Royal Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) and certified mediator of the International Institute of Mediation (IMI)) and Anthony Dimsis (professor in the General Law Section of the University of Ottawa and a member of the Littleton Chambers International Arbitration group) We discussed topical issues of alternative dispute resolution and came to the conclusion that the development of the metaverse offers extensive opportunities for arbitration and mediation of conflicts.

On March 26, 2022, the Faculty of General Law of the University of Ottawa held a training session in the metaverse for the first time. The sponsor was the law firm LeClair and Associates, and the event was supervised by the technological fellows of the University of Ottawa, led by Ritesh Kotak, Ayushi Dave and their team.

Impressed by this interesting experience, Daimsis proposed using the metaverse as a space for alternative dispute resolution as a replacement for the Zoom platform, which has shown itself quite well in this field.

Lawyers see the advantages of this approach in the fact that a virtual hearing room (the design of one of these rooms was developed by a California company, ENGAGE VR) plays with our senses through virtual reality technologies, in addition to auditory and visual ones. The technology allows users to "feel" how someone is handing over a document or proof. With this "tactile" (touch-related) technology, even judges at a court hearing can pick up a virtual hammer and hit a virtual sound block, which provides tactile and audio feedback that can be felt in the real world.

Thus, virtual reality goes beyond visual perception and includes all the senses except the sense of smell.

These advantages are provided due to the fact that the metaverse is a series of computer-generated virtual spaces, and users, wherever they are physically located, can enter these spaces and interact with other users who have also joined these virtual spaces.

Even in terms of audibility, the virtual reality room is superior to Zoom conferences, because, unlike them, virtual reality takes into account the acoustics of the room. For example, if someone is talking to you from one corner of a virtual room, you won't hear them as well as if they were sitting next to you in a virtual room. In a virtual room, the closer you are to a person, the louder you hear his voice. It's a pretty amazing feeling.

The most significant difference between Virtual reality and Zoom is that when you sit in a virtual reality office, you really feel like you are in an office.

Moreover, the people you communicate with are in the same room as you. They are not just square "tiles" on your video monitor, they are sitting next to you, sitting or standing a few feet away from you. At least that's how you perceive them.

All this, in its totality, exceeds by an order of magnitude the empirical experience gained by a person within the framework of web conferences or online court sessions that have already become familiar to us, since it takes into account many nuances that they were unable to overcome. So, for example, at the stage of discussing the possibility of introducing online meetings into Russian legislation, one of the arguments of the opponents of the idea was that in such a format the judge is deprived of the opportunity to fully assess the veracity of the witness's testimony, due to the sensory limitations of "screen" interaction.

Thus, despite the fact that, as the authors of the study themselves admit, the concept of dispute resolution in virtual reality is still in its infancy, this technology has huge prospects, and there is already a successful experience of its application, which, according to the researchers, exceeded their expectations.

It seems that it would be nice to see a similar trend (the transition of judicial and alternative proceedings) in Russia, but only time will tell how popular this approach will be with us.

:  Freepik