An extract from The Technology Disputes Law Review, 1st Edition

Year in review

In the past year, court sessions in Bahrain have been limited because of the outbreak of coronavirus. The pandemic has had a significant effect on business in Bahrain and the wider region and this has, in turn, caused interruptions and delays to litigation and international arbitration.

In an attempt to address these delays, the Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments has announced that the High Criminal Courts, High Civil Courts, Administrative Courts and Lower Criminal Courts will take part in televised court proceedings.

Arbitration proceedings have largely been unaffected (as arbitration is by nature a flexible dispute resolution mechanism, and participants have been able to proceed with arbitrations with only limited covid-19 related interference, while remote hearings have become standard practice). Arbitral institutions such as the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution, International Chamber of Commerce and London Court of International Arbitration have implemented measures to streamline and improve remote working, facilitating online filing and case management.

Tribunals, legal representatives and parties have been able to adapt quickly and have been able to make use of the state-of-the-art technology available to ensure that any covid-19 interruptions are limited as far as possible. In light of this, it should be remembered that the flexibility of international arbitration means that an arbitral tribunal can often render a decision far quicker than the domestic courts, with limited scope for appeal and a facilitated international enforcement process, so, at least in theory, the process should be more cost effective than domestic litigation.

On non- COVID related development, the passing of the Bahrain Government's Fifth National Telecommunications plan indicates a significant policy initiative aimed at increasing Bahrain's scope as an ICT hub and leveraging off the development of Bahrain National Broadband Network in 2018.