Redefining dispute resolution

Key findings from the Global Pound Conference Series

Time to change the way disputes are resolved

Dispute resolution stakeholders want processes that are less costly, less time-intensive. The Global Pound Conference Series – a unique initiative to understand whether there as an appetite to change the way disputes are resolved, brought together over 4000 people from across the spectrum of dispute resolution stakeholders, at 28 conferences spanning 24 countries worldwide. PwC has teamed up with Herbert Smith Freehills and IMI (International Mediation Institute) to identify key insights that emerge from the extensive voting data collected during the series, with a focus on the needs of corporate users of dispute resolution. These insights challenge the traditional and fundamental notions of what clients want and how lawyers should represent their clients in a dispute. We believe there are credible alternatives to litigation and that parties are ready to embrace the change in attitude necessary to harness these alternatives.


Efficiency and collaboration is the key

The call for more efficiency and collaboration puts into question whether traditional dispute resolution processes meet the needs of corporate and civil users. Finding a new way to resolve a dispute requires thought and engagement to bring appropriate resolution in acceptable timeframes and at realistic costs. Corporate users may need to communicate their priorities, expectations and underlying interests to lawyers more clearly. In turn, the 21st century lawyer needs to deliver dispute resolution process design, focusing on collaboration to secure efficient results. Greater emphasis on collaboration between in-house and external lawyers, and between disputing parties, will lead the way for more efficient resolution of commercial disputes.


It’s not all about reducing costs

Going forward cost reduction was not high on the agenda of dispute resolution stakeholders. A reason for this could be that cost reduction efforts are already well advanced in dispute resolution processes. Instead, stakeholders preferred to focus on preventative or pre-escalation measures and mixed mode resolution processes, combining litigation/arbitration with non-adjudicative forms of resolution. This progressive view brings more focus onto the commercial and operational impact of disputes on corporates. We believe this reflects a desire to innovate in an area that to date has been slow to change when compared to the innovation and disruption seen in other areas of business activity.      


What’s next for the future of dispute resolution?

The lawyers of Generation Y, Millennials and Generation Z are growing into positions of influence within corporates and throughout the dispute resolution community. They are embracing the concept of collaboration and use of technology in a way that would have been unthinkable to the litigators of a generation ago. 

If you are looking to redefine dispute resolution in your organisation, here are the key considerations:

  • Review how much your disputes are costing. Would this cost be more effective investing in preventative measures?
  • Challenge the dispute resolution process being suggested. There are alternatives that may be more in line with your strategy.
  • Be prepared to adopt and require a more collaborative and less adversarial approach from your advisers when in a dispute.   
  • Local knowledge of cultural differences is important. Our insights told us there are regional differences in attitude to what is required, and don’t assume what works in one location will in another. 


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John Fisher

John Fisher

Partner, PwC United Kingdom

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Kristin  Rivera

Kristin Rivera

Partner, Global Leader, Forensics & Crisis, PwC United States