There are a variety of reasons life sciences companies have turned to international arbitration. First, such companies are no longer isolated to one city or state, or even to one country. Indeed, life sciences companies are now often comprised of facilities that span the globe, making international arbitration uniquely capable of dealing with any disputes that arise. As these companies expand, so do their partnerships. Arbitration provides a less antagonistic means through which to resolve issues pertaining to agreements between two or more companies, enabling the companies to continue to work together in the long-term. Moreover, arbitration comes with the presumption of confidentiality, which is vital to many life sciences companies and not something they are likely to find in traditional litigation.
Arbitration is also markedly more flexible than traditional litigation, as it permits parties to choose their arbitrators, to choose their venue, to consolidate patent disputes into one forum, and to set shorter timelines, such as by limiting discovery. The benefits and flexibility of international arbitration have proven to be even more important in recent months, as life sciences companies contend with truncated timelines to create, manufacture, and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. Relying solely on the court systems to resolve disputes in 2020 could have been detrimental to the advent of a vaccine, as the pandemic led to widespread court closures and delays. Moreover, court systems were generally not able to adopt technological solutions quickly, compared to arbitration, which is more easily adaptable to technological solutions like videoconferencing.
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