Why we need to embrace technology and law?

25 Nov, 2021 - 00:11 0 Views
Why we need to embrace technology and law?

The Chronicle

Davies Ndumiso Sibanda, Labour matters
WITH the new Labour Amendment Bill, there is a huge opportunity to make Labour Dispute Resolution easy and cheap for both employers and employees through introduction of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR).

While Zimbabwe has not entered the world of technology and law, an opportunity presents itself for businesses to be competitive on the global market through ODR.

This refers to scenarios where labour disputes between employers and employees are entirely resolved through specialised electronic platforms or partially assisted by humans or linked to the already existing legal processes at some stage.

While ODR has been with us for over 20 years with European countries having almost 90 percent of commercial disputes resolved online, PayPal has almost 100 percent disputes online resolved and today commercial labour financial property and many other disputes have been migrated online.

India, on the onset of Covid-19 responded faster than the rest of the world by creating Online Dispute Resolution platforms that talk to the justice system, thus resolved many cases at a fraction of the cost and in record time.

The benefits of ODR for employers and employees include faster resolution of disputes, it is cheaper, amicable, disputes can be resolved from anywhere anytime and is fully encrypted with flexibility across languages among the many benefits.

For the workers, while it is true that some might have technological challenges, but, just like WhatsApp and other platforms, once workers learn to use it, it will allow them to access justice much better as the costs related to the process will be minimal given that there will be no travel involved, all submissions are guided by set templates, required case to support arguments can be accessed easily if the platform is linked to an appropriate online library.

There are case managers to assist both parties move documents to finality. Where the system appoints a judge or an arbitrator as the case may be, levels of bias are reduced or almost eliminated as the platform minimises chances of inappropriate conduct.

For employers, there is a huge reduction of legal costs, as once trained managers can easily handle the ODR even where the employer has to use an employer, the costs are greatly rescued as a good chunk of the work will be done by a machine.

ODR has had challenges from older lawyers who are keen to retain yesterday’s tools and methods of practicing law, however, the advent of Covid-19 has accelerated the migration from traditional methods to modern methods with progressive Law Schools making Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), which includes ODR and Technology and Law compulsory courses.

It is a matter of time that our lawyers accept the reality that the world has changed. I believe for labour practitioners who are employers and workers instead of concentrating on the weaknesses of the present labour legislation alone, there must be a call for migrating labour dispute resolution online.

This will release funds used for litigation to the business, reduce stressful time when people are chasing lengthy expensive cases, reduce legal costs for workers in cases of loss and allow both parties to access international database of best legal brains who will bid to provide services at an affordable cost irrespective of where they are in the world.

This has been happening for years in many other jurisdictions, there is no reason why labour dispute resolution should not talk to technology.

In conclusion, we cannot run away from technology and law, we have seen international disputes being handled with the support of technology off late. All we have to do is accept the change and move on.

Davies Ndumiso Sibanda can be contacted on:Email: [email protected]

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