Iain Quirk KC|
05 October 2023
Welcome to the pinqDR project
The origin of pinqDR
The genesis of this project was following a meeting with Sir Geoffrey Vos in July last year. We were discussing why cases take so long and that it doesn’t have to be that way. I would estimate that 90% of the universe of disputes do not need the system that we have developed. Yes, the current methods are arguably justifiable for the biggest cases, but not for the rest
We put together an initial founding team: myself, Guy Pendell, head of disputes at CMS, and Greg Billinge, a start up veteran and our full time COO. And also an advisory board consisting of Warren Little (Head of Litigation at BT), Helen Dodds (ex Head of Legal at Standard Chartered) and Mark Beer OBE (who founded and ran the DIFC courts in Dubai).
We were accepted onto the LawTech accelerator programme, which gave us added impetus in the early days.
How pinqDR works
The process is that the Claimant puts in their submission on the online platform, using lawyers or not. That is limited in the amount of words. The Claimant can upload documents, but again limited in number. The Respondent does the same. An arbitrator is then appointed by the platform. The arbitrator can ask questions of the parties – they will issue a procedural order (or orders), with time limited responses from the parties. Most cases will be dealt with on the documents, but if there was a knotty point of fact where the arbitrator had to hear from person X and person Y, then a short (e.g. 2 hour) online hearing can be held specifically on that point. The arbitrator then produces their award within 6-8 weeks from the commencement of the process. The award is binding like any other arbitration award – we piggy back on the existing arbitral law and the New York Convention. So no change in the law is required. Our awards are binding like a judgment in England & Wales, and 160+ countries around the world.
There is a single up-front fee which is paid by the Claimant, which covers both the costs of the platform and the arbitrator. The Respondent does not pay a fee. That strips out the typical delay in arbitration from recalcitrant parties not paying their share of the fee, or ongoing fees as they are demanded by the institution. The fee varies depending on the size of the claim, and is transparent and clear.
At every step, we strip out any aspect of the process which might delay or be used to delay the process. So there are no counterclaims – if a Respondent wishes to bring a counterclaim, then they must issue a new claim (and pay a fee) on the same day as their response, which may be then joined and heard by the same arbitrator, but in a way which does not delay the process.
There is no disclosure (the court processes in countries like Spain and Germany have survived very well without it) and no expert evidence.
Binding arbitral decisions, build from the ground up
This is building from the ground up, and we started with a blank sheet of paper. Our arbitral rules are 7 pages – not 2 thick volumes of densely packed text like the Civil Procedure Rules. Our rules were drafted with a team which included Adrian Winstanley OBE, ex Secretary General of the LCIA, the author of the LCIA rules and other arbitral rules.
Our website and platform are up and running as of today. We use bespoke technology to streamline the process and make it a slick, dare I say it, enjoyable experience. We think parties will go through the process and, win or lose, say that was a step-change from the traditional methods of dispute resolution. We are only putting a handful of early cases through the platform, and offering this opportunity to those who we think will most benefit from it at this initial stage. We will be doing a much bigger fundraise next year to scale the platform.
We have put together a Legal Advisory Board, which has advised on the rules, and is helping to shape the platform as it develops. We are privileged to have an amazing list of names on there, all of whom will be well known to those in the legal community.
How pinqDR is funded
We did a fundraise earlier this year and have 45 investors. They are arbitrators, solicitors, barristers, entrepreneurs, ex UK government, and private equity / venture capital people investing their own funds. We were significantly oversubscribed and had to reduce investors’ allowances so that we could fit everyone in. There will be a further opportunity to invest next year, and we are keeping a priority list of those who would like to join the next round.
How to get involved
We are currently meeting with General Counsel and with law firms we think will benefit from our process and technology and will be posting more articles on specific use cases over the coming weeks. If you would like to learn more contact us through our contact form, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also check out our linkedIn and Instagram profiles for more updates and content on all things arbitration, legal tech and our journey.
This movement online is going to happen, whether we are involved or not. Much better that we as a collective group are involved and shape it.
If done right, this project could solve that swathe of cases which currently can’t be brought in any sensible way. To restore integrity to the system and make it work. That, if nothing else, would be a great thing to do.