The new normal: remote dispute resolution

The entire world has a new mantra: Keep your social distance and wash your hands thoroughly, regularly, with soap and water.

Like so many other countries, South Africa is in lockdown which will be followed by many months of social distancing. We are all holding thumbs that we will soon start returning to work, and at least to a certain degree, to life as we knew it before most of us were confined to our homes after our State President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa,  announced the initial lockdown, effective as from Friday, 27 March 2020.

We have been told by numerous leading thinkers globally that what was normal before lockdown will not be normal after lockdown.

In fact, the new normal has already taken hold.

More and more people have started shopping online; the usage of digital platforms like WhatsApp has escalated enormously because it offers text and voice messages, voice and video calls, as well as the sharing of pictures, documents and other media. Life without WhatsApp is simply unthinkable.

Whereas we initially relied on Skype, we now have a choice between Skype and other free video tools, which enables group video chatting through mobile and desktop apps. Examples of these are Houseparty, Microsoft Team and more particularly Zoom, which saw its daily users spike to 200 million in March compared with 10 million in December.

We, at Aequitate Dispute Resolution Services, have made use of these tools since lockdown to continue with disciplinary hearings and arbitrations.

We can say from experience that conducting disciplinary hearings and arbitrations remotely, by making use of Zoom in particular, has worked very well for everyone involved, particularly with its added advantage of allowing participants to  share and to see documents.

Working remotely, and electronically, means that we can talk to one another without having our faces obscured by a mask, while we safely keep our social distance and do not compromise the health and safety of others.

Using these tools has shown us that there is no need to be in the same room to connect with others.

We do not have to sit around a table in close proximity to one another, to continue with our work.

We believe that this is the future.

All our panellists are ready to chair disputes, arbitrate or mediate matters through video conferencing. We can even offer training remotely!

Contact us at: or by calling Sam, our administrator,

on 061 975 0921.


16 April 2020