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Covid-19: Online sessions speed up mediation, arbitration

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on December 25, 2020 Published on December 25, 2020

The pandemic-hastened digital adoption by the Judiciary has propelled the mediation process to the centre stage, reduced the legal cost and travel for litigants and paved way for faster clearance of case backlog at various courts, according to Sriram Panchu, Senior Advocate, Madras High Court.

He was one of the speakers at a panel discussion, ‘2021: Towards Hope’ organised by the Chennai International Centre (CIC) to understand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on healthcare, arts, education, hospitality and law and what 2021 holds for these sectors. The discussion was moderated by Rasheeda Bhagat, Editor, Rotary News Magazine.

Panchu, who is also a mediator and arbitrator, said, “Covid has actually done very well for our world mediation because it is a system where the mediator talks to parties in a closed setting.”

“I can assemble participants across the globe in a matter of hours. What used to take me months is now taking weeks or days,” he added.

Noting that virtual courts are here to stay, Panchu said that online court processes will bring in more efficiency and enable better use of resources.

“On the flip side, we cannot really work online exclusively. There is something about the majesty and awe of courtrooms. You cannot perform histrionics and eloquence of legal art in your office room in front of a screen,” he added.

Folk-art impacted

On challenges faced by the arts institutions, Revathi Ramachandran, Director at Kalakshetra Foundation said, while the arts and cultural academy did move to online mode, it is still difficult to impart the new students about the nuances of handling traditional musical instruments such as the mridangam, veena, or violin through virtual mode. “The folk-art forms suffered the most during the pandemic. They are not able to perform anywhere because their livelihood comes out of performing in festivals, which are banned due to Covid,” Ramachandran said, adding, “So, we are getting together these artists to perform to keep the spirit of the art.”

Impact on healthcare

Aravind Srinivasan, Chief Medical Officer, Aravind Eye Care System said that 2021 will be a busy year for the healthcare industry in dealing with non-Covid conditions. “In pre-Covid days, if I would do about 10 per cent of surgeries where people are blind and cannot function, today it is about 40-45 per cent because diseases do not stop with Covid,” said Srinivasan.

On the pandemic-impact on the education sector, S Vaidhyasubramaniam, Vice-Chancellor, SASTRA University said that one major impact that will remain permanent in the educational ecosystem is the significant and dominant presence of online education. Terming the transition to online education as an exam for institutions themselves, Vaidhyasubramaniam said, “We have a very diversified spectrum of institutions. Some are very primitive in online adoption); some are adolescent adopters and some are very matured masters so it has to be a team effort where the institutions get together to share best practices.”

Ravi Appaswamy, MD, Appaswamy Real Estate said that it was a twin challenge of handling the property on one side and ensuring the safety of the staff and guests on the other.

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Published on December 25, 2020
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