Digital justice in Brazil

The National Justice Council (www.cnj.jus.br) of Brazil has just approved the adoption of a totally remote system of Justice by the Judiciary instances. Known as “100% digital Justice”, it will be an option to the parties in a judicial procedure.

For the moment, the system, when adopted by the Brazilian courts, will be facultative. However, the CNJ understands that it will bring more efficiency to the proceedings, meeting the constitutional principle of the reasonable duration of the judicial process, a fundamental right, according to the Brazilian Constitution.

The decision was made considering the successful experience that the courts had with the remote proceedings adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brazil implemented the electronic process system in 20**. Since then, many measures are being taken to eliminate paper based process. Now, the digital era is covering all the system, including hearings and judgement sessions.

It seems that Brazilian Justice maybe very close to the on line courts model, in the words of Richard Susskind, strengthening the idea that Justice is a service, and not a venue.

Law firms collaborate on industry first to accelerate tech adoption

DLA Piper is amongst six international law firms which have developed a Protocol to help deliver a globally consistent approach to the use of online case management platforms in international arbitration. It is anticipated that the Protocol will be of significant value to arbitration practitioners, parties to international arbitrations and to arbitrators as they adapt to the increasing use of technology in dispute resolution, a development which has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Protocol, which is a product of collaboration between DLA Piper, Herbert Smith Freehills, Ashurst, CMS, Hogan Lovells and Latham & Watkins, has been in development since May 2019. It aims, amongst other things, to improve arbitral participants’ ability to meet their obligations relating to data handling and cybersecurity in a way which is both practical and cost effective. It is also intended to facilitate efficient and secure document sharing.

The initiative to produce the Protocol reflects a common need that had been identified by lawyers who are engaging directly with a changing legal landscape in which the use of technology and digitisation are assuming ever growing prominence. Particular features of that in international arbitration include the greater focus which Arbitral tribunals are having to give to cybersecurity and data protection, the recognition following the pandemic that much if not all of the arbitral process can be done virtually and the revisions which arbitral institutions are making to their procedures as, for example, they look at the ways in which they can operate through online data hosting platforms.

With this Protocol the six firms have worked together to produce guidance that will help to foster greater understanding of those and other issues, and assist the arbitration community to take a consistent approach. It is of global application, deliberately flexible in approach, and relevant to all forms of international arbitration. In addition to providing guidance to parties to an arbitration, their lawyers, tribunal members and arbitral institutions, it is hoped that it will also contribute to the way in which technology developers and providers tailor their legal tech offerings and develop new products.

Maria Scott, Senior Associate at DLA Piper, and member of the Protocol’s working group, commented: “DLA Piper is proud to be a part of this collaborative initiative, which aims to drive real and beneficial change in the way proceedings are managed around the world. This fits well with our firmwide radical change agenda which addresses the increasing role that technology and innovation is playing within the legal sector. It was, therefore, a natural step for us to work with other firms to develop this comprehensive and practical guidance to assist arbitral users in navigating the online case management options available to them when seeking to store, share and manage data securely.”

Charlie Morgan, Senior Associate and Digital Law Lead (UK) at Herbert Smith Freehills, who chairs the collaborative working group, added: “This protocol will help drive discussion and consensus within the arbitration community and with relevant technology providers about the need for and functionality of online platforms in arbitration. Given the fantastic input from various arbitral participants to date, this guidance will support more informed, streamlined and effective decision-making about the adoption and use of online platforms in international arbitration. It will also herald the development of more sophisticated platform options that continue to meet the evolving needs of arbitration users.”

James Carter, Partner at DLA Piper, also commented: “The guidance set out in the draft Protocol will help to drive the effective and consistent use of sophisticated new technologies in international arbitration in a way which not only delivers efficiency of process but contributes to the confidence which parties have in arbitration as a method of dispute resolution. If it is to remain such a popular method of dispute resolution, international arbitration must adapt and embrace new practices, particularly as regards the use of technology. This Protocol will materially contribute to that by providing valuable guidance to users of international arbitration around the world.”

Dentons advises shareholders of VRmagic on the sale of their shares

Global law firm Dentons advised the Board of Directors and shareholders of VRmagic on the sale of 77 percent of their shares in the company to the Swiss medical technology company Haag-Streit.

VRmagic was founded in 2001 and is a pioneer in virtual and augmented reality technology for medical training. The solutions developed by VRmagic enable realistic simulation of examinations and operations on the eye. The company has special expertise in the development of camera systems for high-precision optical tracking. With its Eyesi® product group, VRmagic is the market leader in the training of ophthalmologists.

With this acquisition, Haag-Streit is expanding its ophthalmology product portfolio in the key area of medical training. The transaction follows a four-year collaboration between the two companies to develop a simulator for slit lamp examinations, an important instrument for microscopic examination of the human eye.

A Dentons team led by partner Robert Bastian advised the Executive Board and the shareholders of VRmagic on the sale. Bastian has advised the company’s largest shareholder Leonardo Venture on numerous transactions over the past years.

White & Case advises Hg on Investment in smartTrade Technologies

Global law firm White & Case has advised Hg on its planned investment in smartTrade Technologies, a global leader in managed services and hosted software for trading desks.

The transaction was announced on February 7, 2020.

Hg is a specialist private equity investor focused on software and service businesses. It has led more than 150 investments in the software and services sector during the last 25 years.

The White & Case team in Paris which advised on the transaction was led by partner Nathalie Nègre-Eveillard and included partner Clara Hainsdorf, with support from counsel Valérie Ménard and associates Alexandre Giacobbi, Amandine Grima, Caroline Lyannaz, Laura Tuszynski and Dany Luu.

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Browne Jacobson tech team advises on £208m Hastee investment

Browne Jacobson’s corporate technology team has successfully advised London fintech start-up Hastee on securing £208m of funding, comprising of both equity and a unique credit facility, including on the corporate aspects of a new, unique £200m credit line. The investment was led by Umbra Capital and supported by IDC Ventures and others.

Established in 2017 by James Herbert, Hastee will use the investment to develop and grow its award winning, revolutionary Hastee app which allows workers immediate access to 50% of their earned pay on-demand, reducing reliance on payday loans, credit cards and overdrafts.

An employee can withdraw up to £100 free of charge every month. Subsequent withdrawals are subject to a 2.5 per cent transaction fee. The employee withdrawals are initially funded by Hastee which is subsequently reimbursed by employers on each normal pay day. There is no cost to employers and the solution can integrate with existing HR and payroll processes. Clients include London City Airport, IRIS – the largest privately held software company in the UK, recruitment specialists Brightsparks, Avery Care Homes and pub and restaurant operator Mitchells & Butlers, whose brands include All Bar One and O’Neill’s, amongst others.

Browne Jacobson’s London based team of Jon Snade and Harry Pearson advised Hastee on all legal matters of the investment, as well as assisting with the corporate aspects of a new £200m credit line from Umbra, which will be used to pay employees directly.

James Herbert, Hastee founder and CEO, said: “We are delighted that our investors, led by Umbra, have chosen to partner with us as we bring financial freedom to people across the country. This investment will help us support a greater number of organisations in reducing financial stress, increasing wellbeing and improving the productivity of their employees and, as a result, their organisations.”

Browne Jacobson corporate finance and tech partner Jon Snade added: “We are delighted to have advised Hastee on this significant investment package for the business. Hastee has seen incredible growth since it was formed two years ago and this latest investment will play a huge role in helping to reach new clients and sectors. It shows that there remains a strong appetite amongst investors in fintech starts ups such as Hastee that offer cutting edge tech solutions which have strong prospects of delivering a healthy return on investment.”

Browne Jacadvobson has built a reputation for its innovative approach to delivering legal services to start ups following the launch of its hugely successful Grow programme in 2017 and which is tailored specifically for high-growth companies at any stage of the start-up journey. The firm works with over 100 high-growth businesses through Grow across a broad range of sectors but notably in fintech and insurtech.

Tech investment and open information can unlock justice for all

Technology has the potential to unlock justice for all, according to a new report launched by the Law Society of England and Wales. However, it is by no means a ‘silver bullet’.

Based on an assessment of 50 initiatives and qualitative interviews with more than 45 stakeholders – the report explores whether technology is the key to unlock the potential of law, justice and rights.

It concludes that, with the right support from government, technology can be the key to unlocking access to justice innovation.

“Technological solutions can help to unlock justice for those with legal needs but not the means,” Law Society of England and Wales president Simon Davis said.

“New user-focused innovations have overcome some of the traditional obstacles to access. Firms, advice clinics and in-house teams are utilising technology to serve more effectively the needs of often vulnerable clients.

“However much more support is needed for meaningful impact. This includes better coordination, information sharing and resources.

“There are still too few solutions designed specifically for this purpose – instead, the sector is over-reliant on a trickle down from the commercial legal market.”

Key findings include:

  • Significant work is being done by firms, advice clinics and in-house teams to meet legal need which is supported by technology. The government has taken positive steps through the Legal Support Advisory Group and its ministerial commitments to support new forms of technology to make justice more accessible. There is, however, much more to be done – in most cases, better data management, information sharing and co-ordination is needed.
  • The consumer-facing market is less mature than the business-to-business market on legal technology adoption. Recently, resource allocation and the need for greater efficiencies have driven demand for technological solutions.
  • Online resources are the primary means of providing information to the public. However, face-to-face remains the most popular way for delivering advice, followed by mobile apps which are often used at the start of the process.
  • Barriers to technological adoption include; widespread variation, lack of access to data, inequality of resources, duplication of products, funding and regulatory concerns.
  • Innovation is being led and used by third sector, including law centres and pro bono clinics, often working with firms and universities to provide services. This is more commonly found for disputes in housing, family, employment, debt and social welfare.

“Government must recognise that technology alone cannot provide a silver bullet: use of technology needs to be part of a wider innovation strategy, centred on the individual that needs legal help and framed by the organisation’s purpose and resources,” Simon Davis said.

“Technology-based initiatives can facilitate access to a qualified lawyer, but they cannot replace it. Since 2012 half of law centres or agencies offering free legal advice have closed, and there have been significant cuts to legal aid.

“Government should work with stakeholders to agree a joint set of principles for long-term investment. This will encourage a growth in justice innovations and their adoption within the sector – enhancing access opportunities for those who need it most.”

The report recommends government bodies, private sector and third sector organisations that offer funds for legal technology and access to justice initiatives should agree on a set of principles to encourage long-term investment in the sector. It also suggests the creation of an Open Source Platform for access to justice and technology and a comprehensive list of agreed solutions to overcome barriers and meet legal need.