Council of Legal Education- Eugene Dupuch Law School Distinguished Lecture by Sir Dennis Byron, 11 February 2021

“AI and ADR – The New Frontier”

On Thursday 11 February, Sir Dennis Byron, former President of the Caribbean Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), was invited to give the 2021 Distinguished Lecture at the Eugene Dupuch Law School, Nassau, Bahamas.

Sir Dennis Byron shared his thoughts and knowledge with the new graduates on the following topic: “ADR and Artificial Intelligence: The New Frontier”.

Eugene Dupuch Law School is one of the leading Law Schools in the Caribbean and a member of the Council of Legal Education.

The Council of Legal Education purports to be “a world leader in higher education through innovation, creativity and relevance in a system of practical legal education that is rooted in our history as a Caribbean people and is designed to enhance the practice of law and the jurisprudence of the Caribbean”. Its mission is “to facilitate the development of competent legal practitioners for the region who, appreciating their responsibility as members of an honorable profession and recognizing the needs of their socio-economic environment, are inspired in the pursuit of excellence, the maintenance of high ethical standards, the promotion of social justice and the strengthening of the rule of law.”

Sir Dennis stressed the growing importance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the legal world and insisted on the increasing need to rely on AI in the context of the fight against Covid 19. AI and technology have proven decisive tools to ensure that judicial and arbitration proceedings continue during the health crisis, without jeopardizing the imperatives of social distancing.

Sir Dennis also proceeded to lay out the current state of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in the Caribbean Region. In light of the growing number of local centers and the lack of a homogenous vision, AI appears as the perfect instrument to narrow the legal, cultural and technological difficulties faced in this context.

One of the frontiers highlighted by Sir Dennis is indeed the failure to harmonize the commercial law and dispute resolution processes, which hinders the expansion of economic advances in the field of international trade and commerce. He also highlighted the only partial regional compatibility of our arbitration legislations with international standards, and more specifically the UNCITRAL model laws. This also applies in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution, with a lack of coherent structure to properly articulate Caribbean efforts in this area.

The corollary of this uncoordinated development is the lack of an international presence of the Caribbean countries on the global scene. For example, not one Caribbean state was represented at the last United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) at Working group III sessions, where key policy makers carry out a reform of the framework of Investor-State Dispute Settlement. However, Sir Dennis added to the region’s accomplishments the recent election of the distinguished Jamaican Attorney, John Bassie as the incoming Global President for the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Also, very recently and further to the intervention of the ACP Legal association, in charge of developing the OHADAC project, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) was admitted a speaking observer to UNCITRAL Working group III sessions.

This recent development highlights the benefits which could be drawn from consolidating ADR in the Caribbean. In this context, Sir Dennis highlighted that the upcoming opening of the OHADAC Regional Centre for Arbitration (CARO Center) is a unique opportunity in accomplishing this consolidation. The creation of the CARO Center is part of the second phase of the OHADAC project, whose objective is to harmonize business law in the Caribbean region, covering 33 States. The Center will bring to the region expertise in this field and will rely on AI to implement its mission in this vast region.

Finally, Sir Dennis stressed that Caribbean legal minds, when using and developing AI tools in the years to come, should not forget that they should be producers of innovation, instead of consumers of foreign technology. He highlighted the importance of Caribbean innovation in the field of legal technology with the APEX project, which was implemented at the Caribbean Court of Justice, and which led to the creation of platforms such as CURIA or RESOLVE in support of mediation and arbitration proceedings, and PRACTIS, in support of legal practitioners.

Those regional state of the art innovations concur with the development of legal practice and the improvement of the quality of justice in the Caribbean, which coincides with the creation of the CARO Centre in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution,

These innovations prove that there is a market and a place for AI, which has the potential to contribute to the continued development of the Caribbean region.

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