Recent years have seen growing interest in technological innovations in the legal profession, not least in the field of dispute resolution. We are witnessing the dawn of online dispute resolution mechanisms and novel applications of technologies such as blockchain and smart contracts to dispute resolution. By “Deep Tech” (deep technology), we mean cutting-edge technologies that represent substantial scientific and engineering advances and have transformative power and impact on industries, society, and people’s lives.

There remains great potential for a spectrum of deep technologies to bring about positive disruptions to our current system of dispute resolution by enhancing access to and the efficiency and functioning of justice. Nevertheless, emerging deep technologies and their applications pose critical questions for lawyers, including the adherence to key principles of our legal system such as fairness, transparency, and due process.

Apart from traditional substantive law concerns as well as issues regarding liability and allocation of risk, there are further questions about the potentially far-reaching impact of deep technologies on the different institutions and actors involved in dispute resolution. What will be the role of courts, arbitrators, mediators, and lawyers in this landscape? Moreover, will deep technology actually deliver a more effective experience for users and deliver fairer outcomes?

In this light, our project explores and promotes relevant research on these questions by bringing together multidisciplinary collaborators, developing research talent, and acting as an incubator for start-ups in this field. Our Lab provides a forum of discussion and knowledge sharing among researchers, the legal profession, dispute resolution institutions, companies, and the deep tech sector. In fostering close collaboration among Lab members, we aim to produce high-quality research analysing this exciting, fast-moving field as well as incubate high potential start-ups working on deep technologies that could transform the landscape of dispute resolution.

In sum, our Deep Tech Dispute Resolution Lab focuses on impact, knowledge-transfer, incubation, and a critical reimagining of the potential of legal services in dispute resolution.

The project is led by Dr Mimi Zou, Fangda Fellow in Chinese Commercial Law at St Hugh's College, Oxford and Mark Beer OBE, Visiting Fellow at the Saïd Business School.

Part of this project (“Towards a Substantive Account of Smart Contracts: Going Beyond the Form”) is supported by the Oxford Law Faculty's Research Support Fund.