I have recently returned from Hong Kong where I co-arranged and attended the International Conference on Access to non-judicial Justice. Presentations from over a dozen countries concentrated on how disputes can be solved without the need to go to court. Going to court seems to be regarded as just as uncertain, costly, nerve-wracking and lengthy a process across the world as in the UK.
Things are simpler when legal terminology is part of everyday language
What was particularly fascinating is this. When there is an international conference which focuses on courts or court processes, all speakers need to spend the first part of their presentation giving the context – explaining their legal system, how it works in the situation they are describing and what overarching constraints and political issues there may be. In the Hong Kong conference, there was little or no such need – everyone understood what arbitration, conciliation, mediation and the other matters before us meant. Except where the law of a particular land had somehow interfered, the ordinary everyday use of those words was transferable and all delegates understood what was meant and time could be spent on the particular process and its successes and failures.
It is legal systems rather than legal solutions which cause difficulties for business
As most of the forms of alternative dispute resolution we were talking about included dealing with business and commercial matters, it occurred to me that it is legal systems rather than legal solutions which cause difficulties for business.
European law has made business transactions easier
In this time when it is fashionable to scoff at the European Union, perhaps more heed should be had to the impenetrable tangled mass of legal situations there would be in European business dealings if there were still no European law and how impossible that could make effective business transactions in the modern world.