Want to Help Build the UK’s New SME ADR Platform?

Do you fancy providing the software to help the UK to launch a new digitally based alternative dispute resolution (ADR) platform?

The LawTechUK group, a Government backed body headed by Jenifer Swallow (pictured above), wants to create a new ADR system for SMEs related to late payments, which it sees as a key area where legal innovation can make a real impact in the short-term.

The basic gist is that most SMEs avoid lawyers like the plague because they are too expensive and the billable hour is anathema to them. But SMEs are always getting into spats with suppliers and customers…..so how do you help them…? With a new ADR system designed just for them, is the answer.

The RFPs are initially for a feasibility study and proof of concept that will focus on ways for SMEs to resolve late payments without judicial determination (distinguishing the platform from the court-run Money Claims Online). I.e. solve legal problems without involving the courts.

This may result in a platform that integrates into existing SME accounting and management platforms, with a user interface sufficiently intuitive that an SME owner can use it without the need for training or appointment of a lawyer. This may also act as a foundation for further development covering larger-scale disputes, the group explained.

Swallow told Artificial Lawyer: ‘Legal costs and complexity are a burden for businesses, particularly for SMEs, which are fundamental to the UK economy and under significant pressure in the face of Covid-19. 

‘Our aim is to explore how technology can help, by establishing a platform for the resolution of late payment disputes, addressing the £11.6bn in litigation fees and £50bn in late payments each year. Through our RFP we hope to find a strong partner to help undertake the feasibility study and proof of concept.’

And, as the group adds: ‘Dispute resolution is a most pressing issue for businesses. It is estimated that 70% of businesses experience disputes and access to resolution is known to be time-consuming and costly, often prohibitively so.’

LawTechUK Data.

SMEs also make up 99.9% of all business and 60% of all employment. Litigation fees cost SMEs £11.6 billion each year in the UK and even pre-Covid-19, late payments were leading to the closure of 50,000 small businesses a year, with an impact on health for business owners, and a cost of £2.5bn to the economy, they also added.

This particular project of the LawTechUK group will be headed up by Mark Beer, Chairman of the Metis Institute, and Helen Dodds, Head of Legal, Dispute Resolution at Standard Chartered Bank.

So, there you go. Do you have the tech and skills to help build what would be a whole new ADR platform in the UK? If you do, then check out the tender.