What is ODR’s future in India?
What is the difference between 1st gen ODR and 3rd gen ODR?
Why do we need a platform-based approach to justice?
In this in-depth conversation with Raman Aggarwal, founder of Jupitice Technologies, we delve into these questions and deeply explore the mechanism of how a 21st-century ODR platform should work.
Jupitice is a comprehensive ODR platform, with a little bit of twist. It expands what the current ODR systems are able to achieve, and tries to execute a larger vision to ensure access to justice is a dream we can all achieve — realistically, and holistically.
In this video, we are speaking with Mr. Raman Aggarwal, the CEO of Jupitice Technologies.
Jupitice is a platform that offers digital access to the private justice system. Jupitice was launched only in May 2021, with the ambition of creating a parallel private justice court system.
We go through several meaningful concepts like:
What is the future of ODR? What is the next generation of ODR?
What is a private digital court and how do they work
How are tech-enabled ODR services different from tech-driven ODR platforms?
Why is the Supreme Court shifting from a systems-based approach to a platform-based?
How does the Private Court system at Jupitice work? What happens on an end-to-end basis? How is that an improvement
For more, see the embedded video below and we hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did.
The origin story of Jupitice: Raman walks us through his journey, from being a Chartered Accountant and helping business communities, in various areas, especially the foreign investments and foreign companies how to do business in India, to government advisory to the entrepreneur side. During this time he noticed that dispute was the main vertical, and that there would always be a conflict but the access to justice would be limited. And that was the indicator of initiating the creation of the Private Justice System. (See 3:31)
Jupitice as a private digital court: Seeing the access to justice problem, Raman came up with the idea of Private Digital Courts that would serve the Private Justice System. He created a private digital board where the entire end-to-end process related to Arbitration Mediation and Conciliation has been automated and deeply integrated at a micro-level. (See 10:03)
1st gen ODR vs 3rd gen ODR: The difference between a first-generation and third-generation ODR platform is the technology. A first-generation ODR platform is not workflow-driven while a third-generation ODR platform is. (See 17:59)
Supreme Court’s shift from systems to platforms: The Supreme Court of India is currently system-based and as a system it has its own challenges. First, you cannot customize so frequently because there will be delays which will translate to a lot of costs and loss of efficiency. And second, you cannot integrate the outside or the other ecosystem service provider to your system. (See 24:40)
ODR service vs ODR platform: Jupitice is a comprehensive system, an entire ecosystem with tens and hundreds of tools that are designed to make the entire platform work as a single unit. An ODR platform like Jupitice is a platform in the technical sense of the word. The goal of a private justice system is not only to plug gaps where the public system is lacking, it does more than that. (See 28:33)
Blockchain: Jupitice has filed a patent to use blockchain’s system so their platform is as secure as blockchain. They are also in the process of filing another patent to use smart contracts. Jupitice has filed a patent to use blockchain in a way that passwords and sensitive information can be retrieved in the future even in case of damage or loss, without compromising the security that blockchain promises. (See 34:12)
Jupitice and its automation capabilities: Jupitice is able to automate notifications that will also reschedule your calendars, which solves a big pain point which is constantly having to track changes. (See 36:41)
Vision: In the next 3-5 years Jupitice has 3 main goals: private digital courts, increase access to justice, and get the platform well-known and used in other countries outside of India. (See 52:32)
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For reference, here is the full transcription of the video:
Today I am speaking with Mr. Raman Aggarwal. Raman is the CEO of a company called Jupitice Technologies, which is a very new business.
Jupitice was launched in May 2021, so while it has been on the market only for a short time it seems to me that the amount of time, and effort, and investment resources that have gone in mobilizing this project it’s significant. What Jupitice is, is that it’s an online dispute resolution platform, an ODR platform. At least it appeared to me before the interview that’s an ODR platform which means typically two parties are putting a dispute resolution clause in their contracts and if there is a dispute and they go to this particular website or platform and then there’s a dispute resolution process and the parties typically have a word in typically 3 to 9 months since the time the dispute enrolls. Right. That’s a typical ODR process.
Umm, but during the conversation, I realised that the man’s ambitions are a lot more and his imagination goes a lot beyond that, which is what I think you’ll find out in the interview Importantly, he’s a man with a lot of experience, in both professional services as well as in building technology solutions.
Some of the meaningful concepts that we discuss here are for example
What is the presence and the future of ODR?
What is the current generation of ODR systems and what is the next generation of ODR platforms? Where are we headed?
How are technology-enabled services different from technology-driven platforms? Meaning platforms that have technology at the core of their solutions.
Then, we also delve into how the Supreme Court of India is going about migrating to a digital, adopting a digital justice approach, and what is their vision for the next 5,10,15, 20, 30 years. What is their vision and how are they going about it? Have they recently changed their vision?
And, they’re looking at building a more modular platform-based environment so they can introduce technologies tool by tool, block by block, so we delve a little bit into that. And, we talk about, for example, in a world where digital justice and private court systems comprehensive systems, end-to-end systems become the standard. What is the place for arbitral institutions, in that kind of world?
I have left timestamps below in the description so please go to whichever chapter or section you want to, and I hope you enjoy the content as much as I did.
N: Hi, Mr. Raman. So good to have you. Thank you for speaking with me and I look forward to having an insightful hour or so with you.
R: Yeah. How are you, good. Yeah.
N: Doing very well, thank you.
R: Wonderful, wonderful.
N: So, first of all, I see that your office is functioning properly on physical premises.
R: No, but we are COVID compliant, you know, it’s, we’re taking all protocol compliance for this.
N: Where are you based out of?
R: We’re based out of Chandigarh. We are, we had our own building IT facility in Rajiv Gandhi Technology Park.
N: Hmm. So how about we start with unpacking a little bit of your personal and professional history? You’ve practiced as a CA for a long time, and since then you’ve been engaged in knowledge management/process management. Today you are running Jupitice, a technology company in the legal domain. How did you get here?
R: Yeah, you know, as you mentioned that I’m a Chartered Accountants in almost 32 years, you know, helping the business communities, in various areas, especially the foreign investments and foreign companies how to do business in India. So I acquired business knowledge, particularly in IT sectors, you know I just diversified more of providing consulting in the IT sector from 1998, you know, and during this journey I also, you know started advising the government at a policy level, you know, in terms of how to, you know, do and bring more economic, you know developed development projects, you know, in the state of Punjab and Haryana like that, you know, so they diversified from my CA consulting to the government advisory.
And then in 2006, then I set up my own KPO in a technology company called, in the name of Aeren IT solutions private limited with seed, as I see Germany as my government advisory, you know I come across you know with various kind of came across with certain kind of the challenges that the business communities, especially from outside India, you know, what is facing you know.
So I basically then incorporated a company called Aeren IT Solutions Private Limited and that has two segments, you know, one is called the KPO, and the second is the technology segment. In the KPO, my main focus was on the legal process of outsourcing accounting outsourcing and the patent and such, and other back office support services.
So, legal process outsourcing is one of the major, you know the contributory verticals in my era and IP solution in the KPU segment. And, in, because we are now one of the largest legal process outsourcing companies in India that provide legal services technology-enabled legal services to both the corporate houses like Google, Yahoo HP Pepsi, as well as the litigation support to the AmLaw 100 Firms, you know, we’re, we basically provide services like document review services, which is of course through the technology-enabled and we are a team of about 175 attorneys.
So the journey from a CA to government advisory to the entrepreneur, partnership, you know, then I also started some infrastructure projects where we have built up some state of the art intelligent infrastructure for the software companies and the IT companies you know. So these are few businesses that I’m running as of now. My main focus is more on the KPO, means on the knowledge industry, you know, and now bringing knowledge into the knowledge industry, you know, and particularly for the legal, and, and the accounting and financial side, you know.
But during this journey I could see that, you know the dispute is the one of the major vertical is because every transaction in every relationship has dispute as a by-product, you know, there is always a conflict, whenever there is you make some relationship, or you make the or you enter into some transactions. So the results, see that, you know, almost three to 5% of the global transactions, you know, that converts into dispute every year which is almost around $7 trillion, a month, you know.
So, so this escalated to using trust, even during my journey as a CA when I was providing services to the business community, as well as when I started providing the legal process outsourcing services through the technology to the top 100 law firms in US, so I could see that dispute is such thing which is basically a you know one of the major concerns, as of now across the globe, you know,
And, and, and certain facts you know which just came to my knowledge when I was doing more research and went to the advanced level of research, I could see that the Access to Justice is the biggest challenge, there is a dispute, but there is no access. There was a huge gap, you know, like you can see out of a population of 7, 7.5 billion, 5 billion people have no access to justice, you know.
And, and no access to justice cost almost 0.5% to 3% of the GDP, you know. So, this has created in using trust in me, so I was not concerned with the criminal side of the justice system I was more concerned with the civil side of the dispute because it creates more impact on the human beings’ life. As per OECD, you know, three things. The loss of income. The loss of health, and the cost of serving justice that cost over 3% of any nation’s economy, you know, and that has a huge, huge impact on economic development on the social development, and for the human welfare and so on. So that’s why I started basically conceptualizing, you know, the whole concept, you know, from in 2000, almost three years ago. It took me almost about 12 months, you know, to conceptualize the entire justice system across the globe. You know I we so I created my own team, though I had 175 attorneys, but I created a special team of about 16 attorneys who were doing research across the globe and seeing what are the existing justice delivery system across the globe, and are they sufficient or not. So I could see that is all just traditional because the traditional way of access to justice will always remain unfulfilled, you know. So, that basically, you know, this is this, this has given birth to my thoughts, turning into a, a private digital Court.
N: Hmm, the access to justice problem, I mean how we are currently justice is being dispensed, it’s not a sustainable model. I find it hard to imagine how bringing technology or processes in the public justice system will radically change things because the scale is a huge problem. Starting from a clean slate is sometimes more efficient and lends more control to us than solving an existing mess. I want to understand what Jupitice is, as a platform, and if you don’t mind explaining to me what a private digital court is?
R: Now Jupitice Basically, you know, so our, our initial focus was, how to increase the access to justice, other than the traditional judicial mechanism of delivering the justice. So, Jupitice has created a smart and intelligent private digital court, you know, so similar to the public court we have created a private digital code so that because the people, you know, the people you know when they say they’re going to the court they have some level of trust in them. You know they are basically accustomed to go to the court for, you know, getting their dispute resolved.
So, in the same way, I created a private as a digital court, but primarily for the private justice system.
So, when I say it is a digital court, that means, it has all the full eco-justice system, like for example, you say, a public justice system. There is always a judge, there is always a courtroom, there is always a procedure, you know. Like education is not found in the school, it is founded in the process. So justice is a process. So what I did is, you know, we picked up the private justice system because that is something which is Judge-agnostic, which is procedure-agnostic, and which is place-agnostic, you know, something, everything is in the private hand. And that is the right way of increasing access to justice.
So, I created a private digital board where the entire end-to-end process relating to Arbitration Mediation and Conciliation has been automated and deeply integrated at a micro level, so every point of the entire system of arbitration, you know. Say for example there are 600 tasks to be performed in the entire process of arbitration.
So, those tasks have been deeply integrated intelligently, so that there is an end to end visibility, that they can see how the process is going on, you know, So, so, so this is the way, you know, this, this basically has started designing and developing the private digital code, and then also created the additional infrastructure in that dispute resolution platform like we now we had it, court management team, You know, so, like, the administrative side of the, of the proceedings, you know, so we have also created a court management team, where the entire community, with all the participants who are performing their entire process are assisted by the professional core management team.
Right. And the third thing is since I wanted to give and maintain the independence, and the unbiased attitude of the private neutrals, you know, so I created a marketplace. Now, basically, a marketplace where we have aggregated and have been aggregating the arbitrator, mediator, and conciliator across the globe.
You know, so that we can connect the disputants, and the dispute resolution professionals on the same platform, You know, so the distributor so that disputants can have, you know, they can find the right match, according to the requirements such as they may be looking for some expertise, they have some budget issue, they have some language issue, or they might, they might have somebody who is from particular nations or nationalities. So all those factors, which basically help the disputant to make a well-informed decision.
So we created an AI-driven marketplace, you know so that any disputant can come on this platform, and they have the various options to find those right matches.
They can search them, which basically is AI-driven search, which also recommends them. Look, you’re finding these kinds of people, so why not, you know, so the AI basically understanding the requirements can also start recommending them.
Second, they can also invite people by posting their requirements and writing proposals from all the people who are all the professionals who are basically registered in the panel on this platform, you know, they can also, you know send their proposal so we then created a lot of technology tools like the evaluation tools so if we are shortlisted may be several, several ADR practitioners so he can, with the help of evaluation tool, he can further, you know, narrow down their matches, you know, and thereafter, through the negotiation room, they can negotiate the entire thing like the fees, etc, because we do not intervene in their fees process, in the negotiation process, because we have provided them that complete interaction, infrastructure, so they can finalize their fees, with the ADR professionals, they can formalize those relationships by using our contract building tool, and they can also digitally or electronically sign that relationship on the platform itself.
And further, to support them. We are also providing escrow services where these justice-seekers can deposit the agreed fees into an escrow account, and so that they can be dispersed to the provider, as per the milestone they achieved. So both, so in that situation, both the buyer and sellers are protected.
So, I have created a complete digital Court where they can find the judge, they have the place to perform the process. And then, this, this dispute resolution platform is compatible to all kinds of rules, whether this these are the United Nation arbitration rules, whether they are the London Court of Arbitration Singapore Singapore Court of Arbitration ICC, so all type of arbitral institution across the globe. Their entire arbitration mediation process has been standardized and put into this platform, and even then if somebody wanted this should be our process to be followed for the purpose of performing the arbitration process, even that kind of a process can be customized within five days. So this is, this is all about the private digital court. So when I use a private means it is a digital court for the private justice system.
N: I understand. I want to understand more deeply, as we were talking about it before the call, what is the innovation path of ODR platforms and systems? Jupitice, you say, is a 3rd generation ODR platform. What is the difference between a 1st generation and 3rd generation ODR platform?
R: See when I see the private. When I say the first generation or the third generation, the difference is in technology. Right? The first generation.. first, they are not workflow-driven. They have different applications to perform the task. Say, for example, they wanted to share the documents, they are using the email. Right? They wanted to have a, have interaction with the video. So they have a third-party application say call WebEx or maybe Zoom. So,, these applications are independent applications that are not deeply integrated.
So that means they are not workflow-driven, you know, as and when you need to do some tasks, you are basically using the legacy technology and tools. So what happens is, like say you are sharing the information. So, you are storing that information in a non-contextual manner, because all the emails, which has you know a basket of 1000s of emails from a different direction. Right, so you have no idea what we need to retrieve some information, you know, there is no link with the previous information because you can simply find out some email, right?
And say, for example, the hearing, so all these data are stored in the third-party server. So what happens here, you know here, every point of the process, right from request for the arbitration. Everything is done on a single platform. Their information is lined in-silo, which has no integration, they are losing the data. Here everything from drafting,, to storage to data analytics, the automation of the process, because here I have given birth to the fourth party. So here, my machine is basically is also one of the participants in the whole process.
The entire data is stored at one place, so you can predict how the case is going on. Right? And where. So it is linked with the SLA, and a lot of processes may be 40% of the process has been automated, which brings more efficiency in the process, you know. And then there is complete visibility. Right? And then, you know, so, so everything you have just to do on the click of the mouse the entire pleading can be drafted and submitted on the platform itself.
Because we have created a huge gallery, a digital gallery where all kinds of format, all kinds of notices, you know. So because these are all very intelligently smart forms that we have created, you know, so they can pick up that particular notice, you know all their original information are automatically filled up, And there is the space where they can print some information, which is not already in our database. And just with the click of the mouse that that data is submitted to all the participants, as per the setting that we have already made at the beginning of the process that this information, go to this participant and not to the other participants. So there is a better access control system there is a better approval system, and you come in the morning as a judge and can see what kind of events I need to perform today.
You know there are a lot of reminders on that page, dial in as a judge, you know you want to say for example some cases being heard. You can see this particular paragraph is more important, he can digitally save it in a digital diary, you know he can basically save all the important information in one place, and whenever he wants to draft the judgment, then he has all the important information stored in one place. So there is better evidence management, there is better data security, encryption is there, blockchain is there, that there is a lot of information where the voice commands help us to fill-up the form and providing the information, all the recorded, recordings are transcribed so we basically developed from the scratch almost over 50 tools and deeply integrated into a single platform that is.
N: Brilliant. Brilliant. What I see you saying is that what you have created is a comprehensive system, an entire ecosystem with tens and hundreds of tools that are designed to work to make the entire platform work as a single unit. And an ODR platform like yours is in fact truly a platform in the technical sense of the word. The goal of a private justice system should not only be to plug gaps where the public system is lacking but what if you can imagine from the ground up a justice administration system that does a lot more than that. Like how would we make a dispute resolution facility at the systems level if we wanted to make one today?
R: Yes, you, yes, that is it so that’s why it took almost about 18 months and spent almost about 35 crores on this. So we had a huge team for that. You know that is that so because you rightly said, See, even if you look at the phase three vision of the Supreme Court e-court committee document, you know, I’m sorry to say, most of the things has been taken away from our concept from our websites, and a lot of things that they are losing in their promise because even the Supreme Court has shifted their vision from system to platform. So that’s exactly what we have already created, even, even my team is interacting with the Secretary of Justice D. Y. Chandrachud because we are saying that we have already experienced that private with the digital court concept what you have in your region three, which is the document.
N: So, the current outlook that the Supreme Court has is systems-based, and they are transitioning to a platform approach? What is it currently, and, and what are the challenges the judiciary will face?
R: No, as of now it is not platform-based. They do not because see, now they have clearly mentioned now what we are going to do is, is because they were just like, what you call as a, as a single cylinder. Right? So what happens is, when I say this exact word, when when I say single cylinder means, you know if I need to make some changes in my system, right, so I have to stop the entire operation of the system.
But in this case, in a platform, you have a modular approach. So if something is, is basically is not working, and then your entire things are not basically stalled. You know, so you can keep, you know, continue the performance of your tasks on the platform.
And second, as a system. One, you cannot make, and customize so fast and frequently, you know, because there’s a lot of cost and delay, and efficiency is less. And second, you cannot integrate the outside or the other ecosystem service provider to your things, you know, to your system. So these were the two major things that have faced, they have faced problems so now, that is why, in October 2020, they came out with a draft of vision, vision, face the vision document, and they clearly mentioned in the beginning, we have learned a lot during, during this pandemic time. And this was the biggest mistake that we did it. Now we are shifting our approach from system to the platform, which means we would now create a digital court. That is what we mentioned.
N: Right. I am following you. So, say the Supreme Court goes ahead with this vision and is able to execute it as imagined, I mean hypothetically, will it be taking the same direction and approach that you have taken at Jupitice? What are the similarities and what are the differences between the way a public system and a private player would approach this?
R: Yes, there is a similarity, of course, because that is the only way of making it property, the process right, but see this scope and scale is different also. Because ultimately, they would take the government as a service, because they would not only working on the judicial side of the whole dispute resolution process. They will also integrate the other, the stakeholder at a broader level like say forensic department, the police department, so all of their investigations and everything would be basically they know to you know go separately, and then, you know, the same information is again repeated in the judicial platform. So when all the different platforms can also be integrated. So the entire information will start storing in one place, and that would bring more efficiency, and transparency, you know, in the whole process. So of course the architecture and the process would be the same.
N: Right. Let me go back and close a previous point about the advancement of ODR systems. Would it be incorrect for me to say that currently, many ODR platforms are technology-enabled services, where of course you have the technology to mediate the interactions between the different stages but of course technology is not at the core of the solution? Now it’s okay if it’s not, that’s not the aim either, but at best they are tech-enabled services. Whereas in your case, as you spoke about developing a 4th participant in your system which is your machine, that we can say is a technology-driven platform, tech-driven platform as a service. And also, more generally, what do you think of the ODR market and its potential?
R: Oh wonderful, it’s a great market. You rightly explained the major difference. They are the technology-enabled service provider, and this is technology-driven. Basically, the platform, right, it’s basically platform as a service, right, it’s a platform as a service, right. So, it’s a big market, because, for example, we just signed on 25th of June, the MOU with the TCIL like which is the IT PSU of the government of India, you know they are now our marketing partner. You know, and they would be now promoting, the then law Minister basically because he was holding the charge of it and telecommunication, so he has basically made TCL sign up this contract with us, and they are basically going to promote this platform among all the PSU which has almost, 176 in number, you know. So because most of the PSU, all the contracts have arbitration clauses.
So you know that arbitration clause, because if there is an arbitration consensus on an agreement, only then they can go to the arbitration. So they are, they would be promoting the government to because 46% of the current litigation is from the government side, so they wanted to reduce that litigation that is what the objects of the National Litigation Policy of the government of India, right? So, we are promoting this platform through this TCIL to all the PSUs. You know where all of their arbitration processes can become more cost-effective and efficient.
Right. So, one, those who have already entered into a contract, so that they can basically again revise the arbitration clause, and use this Jupitice platform for the online arbitration or mediation. So, this is one area that we are helping the government in this direction. And the second area is basically, you know we have signed up, an MOU like the MSME is like you know because the MSME has no better access to the functional, the judicial system because they have the limited capital. They cannot wait a long time to get their money brought into some kind of dispute, on average, you know one MSME has about four to five disputes in a year, you know. So as you know the 90% in India we had about six and a half crore MSMEs which are registered which are basically recognized MSMEs you know, so we are approaching them through their Chamber of Commerce, through their confederation, you know, and giving them a solution, you know, on as, so that they can all come on this platform and can start resolving their disputes, you know, we are basically, you know, through the expedited arbitration process which can, you know, last for maximum say about 60 to 90 days at the maximum. So this is the way we are approaching them, so all the arbitral institutions in India, you know, we are basically, they are very keen to collaborate with us, so there is a huge market, huge and huge market for that, you know.
And I’m not seeing any, any kind of competition here, being they’re kind of a solution they are providing and what we are because they are just a technology service provider, you know they are not workflow-driven, either they are doing the independent application, even if they have integrated through the application but they are not workflow-driven. At the most, they have, you know, integrated say like a Dropbox, or the or the Zoom, etc integrated so that information is there, you know, but they are not workflow-driven.
And they cannot, you know, bring more ecosystem service provider, like for example you were saying like a contract space, right, say as of now we are also going back because the contract is the source document for any dispute, you know, if, also we are also almost ready for the contract, so that will basically become part of this system, this platform so that anybody who basically wanted to enter into a contract, they can come on this platform, they can drop the platform or the contract over here, they can redlining, is the negotiate the platform where use our all negotiation room or other tools, you know, and finally formalize it, and digitally sign it, and store it in the blockchain.
So maybe five years a few years later if they have the dispute, they can retrieve the entire contract, as well as all the surrounding interaction and discussion and messages and everything on the same platform, you know, this will help to strengthen their case.
N: Let’s dabble with the blockchain and smart contracts part of this. We had spoken earlier about some patents you are filing or have filed, regarding the usage of blockchain to manage contracts, and that your intention is to integrate these solutions into your platform. Do you mind delving a bit deeper and explaining to me what that is?
R: Yeah, yeah, yeah, So blockchain we have already filed one patent over here. Let me explain this blockchain too because, you know, so in a blockchain what we did is because the most important part of the blockchain is the credentials that you’re holding. Because once you have forgotten your earlier password of the blockchain, you know, then you cannot get access to that, you know like in case of your phone, you can still forget your password and can retrieve it. But in this case, you cannot like you must be you know must be having knowledge of one of the latest incident, the guy who are having the bitcoins in the hard, hard drive which was saved in the blockchain. Of course, Bitcoins are saved in the blockchain. He forgot his ID and passwords and today he is almost seven to $80 million value worth of bitcoins, but now nobody can open that thing. Right, so we have, we have patented its technology, where that ID and password would be safely kept securely as well as he will never be able to misplace that ID and password. Right. So since the blockchain, we have already created that storage, and that services we are already providing a part of our platform. Regarding the smart contract is concerned, that we will be doing it for a, because in a smart, smart contract, what happens is, all the [inaudible] that we have created and program that cannot be altered or changed to an event is to form. Sorry, that would go to the second level of the events. So, that means the machine, the machine is basically driving the whole transaction, so that we are already you know, almost on the trial. And for that, we are also filing the patent for this.
N: I got it. Allow me please to try and imagine how your platform functions on a practical level. We spoke a lot about workflow automation. Could you give me examples of what kind of processes and workflows you are automating?
R: Okay. Yeah, first is the basically is the notification process, like say for example you have filed the Statement of Claim, let’s say for example from there. So once you file the Statement of Claim, right .so that Statement of Claim the moment you file it. So, See, in the beginning, what we are going to do is we will set up the entire workflow. That who will be the participants, what would be their rights, what kind of access they could have it, what kind of things they can view it, you know, so this itself is automation in itself. So anything you do it in the beginning, that would happen in the entire workflow automatically, right? So, unlike emails, you know you file the Statement of Claim, right, so you have to tell them somebody else whether he has received or not received it, to have filed the Statement of Claim, it would automatically (be) submitted, and by notification, it will go to everyone. Right?
So, automatically it would start appearing on everybody’s upcoming events, you know. And then, say for example, if you perform some action. Right. Again, it will go to the respective participants, right. So, unlike the traditional way of doing it in a non-automated way, you can track it, where the things are like, you can see, this thing is [inaudible] because in everything there is three-party three kind of a rule, one is called as a requester role, second is called as a performer role. And third is called as an approval role, right, so you can track what is happening at the click of the mouse where the things are going on and say, then again. I’m randomly I’m explaining the automation process, it’s not in a sequence.
So, so what we have done is we have divided the entire process into stages, then under each stage what events are required. And under each event what steps you need to perform it. And that task level. This, then, means the action level, then, to do that action. What is the involvement of the tools and the human? Say, for example, you want to drop something, create some document you want to have a chat. You want to have a video conferencing, you want to have a hearing, you know you want to reschedule adjournment, you know, so all kinds of steps that you need to take that we have integrated there, so you can track everything the way things are going on, you know, so.
So, back-end, the machine is performing a lot of things. So like, mostly its the reminders, mostly its the notifications. Mostly it is the information which is automatically filled up, you know, because of the second, because you need not to repeat and type that information, again and again, you know, so, so, then automatically you can reschedule your calendars. This will automatically reschedule your calendars, you know everything, the way you want where the analysis for the human mind is not required, that process, which is mechanical, which is repeatable in nature. These are have been automated.
N: Right, and these workflows are pre-programmed and I assume when the dispute resolution process is triggered by a party, based on the facts of the case as well as the dispute resolution rules, a workflow would already be in place and it will get customized to that case without any manual intervention?
R: Yeah, because at the time of setting up the entire workflow, it is just like you open the phone, you set up the entire thing. Same is what we have done is we have created the various workflow. So, that is, that lies in our digital library. So, you this somebody says okay I want to conduct this arbitration, through the United Nations arbitration rules. So that blueprint will come for this case and appear, and then a court, then we will set up the entire workflow, you know, this kind of rules and everything would be, you know, set up at the beginning of the starting the proceedings, you know, so that every time they know to check up and something like that. If they have set up that there cannot be more than two or governments, then that, that that that will become disabled until unless this has to be approved by the say the tribunal, you know, something like that, you know, so, and then it has to be approved by the tribunal. Then what kind of approval format or note, should be there, they would definitely start appearing over there.
N: Yep. And you already mentioned that there are different roles involved with different rights and permissions. So, the workflow being pre-programmed doesn’t mean that some unintended actions or decisions will get passed. Does it just mean it will stop and wait for approval from the person required to give the approval?
R: yes yes yes yes yes yes, that I said requestor performer and approval, you know, and this workflow has become so advanced, I can use it for any other purpose too. Tomorrow I wanted to use for a chartered accountant, I can do that for them.
N: I got it, Mr. Raman. I understand what you’re saying. Okay, I want to understand something. So, say there is a player like you in the market, it’s an end-to-end dispute resolution mechanism in and of itself. Now the institutional arbitral institutions like SIAC, ICC, say MCIA in India, they are not providing… I mean they are only providing three things (1) a body of rules, (2) case administration services, and (3) the facilities like conference rooms and transcription and others.
So, I guess what I am asking is, say resolving through a private court like Jupitice with workflow automations and hundreds of tools becomes the standard, what is the place for arbitral institutions? They would need to move in the similar direction as you?
R: Ah. Ah ha ha, very good points. Very good. This is, this is what I working on it, because, see, I do not want to say as of now because otherwise, the arbitral institution will be after my life because it would be a disruption to them. Practically speaking, because see they are providing two things one is the case administration services, and second is the logistics, the infrastructure. Right, so both things are gone there. Because the case administration would be 60 to 70% substantially reduced by the automation process. The rest is just human interference like somebody should be there so we have already provided the code management team, as a part of the platform fees. So, they will be somebody who would act as a communication channel among all the participants, you know like, say, say for example validation of the documents like say you you had submitted a statement of file so as for the procedure whether all the information rules etc have been submitted, not some human intervention would be required to review. It’s like a validation process just like the court, we have the registry see whether this document should be accepted or not, you know, so that kind of process of the administration would be there otherwise from the accounting point of view, like the arbitral fees collections and the disbursement. That would all be automated, you know.
N: But.. is that communication channel really required? It’s like the secretarial or registry part of a Court, and the errors that are clerical or procedural in nature.. we should be able to program rules and have those automated too right? For the most part, I mean.
R: We, we are trying to even abolish that, right. But the problem, you know, let me now see, because I, we, we already have the AI engineers and the blockchain. See, the text, the text of the document, sometimes there are some text to be read. Right. So some form, column, or row information, whether this has been properly filled or wrong information has been given, or it is adequate or non-adequate that interpretation through the data, this can only be done through the AI or the ML, right, but AI and ML as of now is very weak in analysis (of) the text, they are very good in as a, as a vision, or as a number. Right? But not as text analysis, because there the context becomes very important. So, in what context, this information is sufficient or not to that kind of things we are working, but the biggest challenge as of now, is there is no government open data policy, as the National Grid of the judgments, they have no open data policy, so we are trying to, you know, working with the government, you know, and because though 28th of July, tentatively the law Minister has agreed to formalize to formally inaugurate it. Right. And based on that, we have also got feedback from the Prime Minister to look at this thing because I’m giving a proposal of e-courts for the quasi-judicial mechanism. The way the Court, the Supreme Court has done for the judicial mechanism, I’m saying for the, for the quasi-judicial mechanism. So there, I’m going to put this point in saying that sir give us open access to the data to the API so that we can also through the AI we can do a lot of automation. The see-through algorithm, whatever we could do we are doing because, through the algorithm that we cannot automate the entire level of processes, it is to the AI only we can do the better automation.
N: Yeah, I think you have answered my question very well. I mean, I see where automation of this part can become a tricky job, where context becomes relevant. That said, over time especially in Court registry matters etc we should then at a policy level try to reduce the importance of context because you know in the case of hearing by a judge context it’s different but in secretarial matters, I don’t see why we can’t have a more programmatic approach.
R: Yes, yes, yes.
N: Hmm, what is your revenue model?
R: Yeah, we have, basically, one is called a gig work gig workers revenue, which means gig working commission. So it’s, whenever the marketplace, you know when the disputants engage some ADR professionals, right. So whatever fees, the ADR professional get from this platform, so they will share a commission to us, that’s, that’s almost about 16 to 18%, because why, see, now you must be knowing that for SaaS enabled marketplaces, so where on the supply side, I am giving them complimentary free various tools, right, even their invoicing tools, the document management, and etc. So, for that reason, I will be charging about 16 to 18% of the fees they receive it. This is one revenue. This is monetization. And second is the private digital court, if somebody wanted to perform the entire process, they can hire this private digital court, right, even the marketplace is a separate service as well, say tomorrow, they have got the neutral but they don’t want to perform the entire process on the platform. Right? So they can just hire it and they can do it traditionally, but this second process where they want to use our dispute resolution process, you know they can do that, you know, there we have basically is, is a tiered system where claim based we are put a fixed amount, like if this is a claim amount we will charge for this much of fees for the entire duration of your proceedings.
N: From the parties?
R: See the parties will pay the use of the platform. It is just like case administration services.
N: You mentioned there’s an escrow-based workflow, so this means that the neutral’s fees or service provider’s or lawyer’s fee say is protected by an escrow mechanism?
R: Yeah, because see what happens is, so rather I say it is a protection to both the seller and buyer. Right. That’s because they say for example the disputant who basically engages or hires some neutrals. And that generally you know being in this profession the payment is linked with the milestones, right. There is almost about seven to eight types of stages in the arbitration when the payment is released. This is a normal practice across the globe, right. So, so what happens is the entire fees would be deposited into the escrow account. Once that particular stage is performed automatically it will appear to the neutral, and then he would immediately just bring to the knowledge and submit it, the invoice would be made automatically through the accounting system, And would go to the disputing parties as per the agreed conditions, and if we accept the button, then it will go to the payment would be released.
N: Mr. Raman, I am finding this conversation extremely intriguing and you know before the conversation I was reading about you and Jupitice and your work, and I saw an animated explainer video and I swear it has not explained any of these aspects of value propositions. I mean, it feels like two completely different companies.
R: No. Oh, that’s true because see we that was made long back. So a lot of clarity to explain to you has also come in our mind, you know, because that’s a big challenge, you know, maybe six months before I was not able to explain the way I’m explaining today, But the vision was already there.
N: Speaking of vision, what is your vision for say the next 3-5 years?
R: You know, I basically is first my first two years, is you know more focus on private justice system, because it is attached to my heart too because I wanted to increase the access to justice, you know, that is my whole goal, you know, and which I could see that more and more nations are contributing and working more on making arbitration, even the mediation process like the Singapore convention, you know they have made that mediation settlement as impossible like arbitration, but only 41 countries has ratified that convention.
So even if you look at that newly appointed Chief Justice of India Mr. Ramanna, even he has, in one of the days before they have a mediation conference, and where the Singapore, Chief Justice was also there even they’re also saying that let’s make mediation, which is the most informal process, and which does not require that dispute is not resolved through the articulation of law. You know what I’m trying to say, you know, I wanted that justice should not be more driven by the law. Right. It should be more driven by the ethical virtues, you know, like that we used to have in our centuries ago, you know, maybe you know in 2000-3000 years ago, where our manav dharamshastra which has 14 volumes of that Justice delivery system where the things are different, you know, because see, see the people are not, see in a judicial system. This is an adversarial proceeding, that spoils your relationship because one party is the winner, one party’s a loser. You know, and in these in these type of settlement dispute resolution mechanism, who the parties are when they built up a good relationship. You know, so if you had a business relationship, your remain your customer remained with you. You know, so, so, this kind of dispute resolution process of course if you see society doing research, and my research team keeps updating me on this stuff, worldwide, the mediation process is getting more and more popular. You know, so this is the best way and especially for the underprivileged, or handicapped people who have no access to justice because of the physical barrier. Let’s say even you take the example of the army, they are they’re serving from far away, and they have some disputes somewhere, they can’t go to the court, you know. So, this mechanism of the private justice system where basically, more autonomy has been given to the private hand, and if it is properly fixed up and proper, especially when it is given by the technology, there is less misuse of the process. There is more transparency and because every, you can, everyone can visualize end-to-end what is going to happen.
So my first focus is to increase the access to justice to the private as well as, you know, the smaller nations, right, which have no judicial system. We are not. There is no use of technology. So I would be giving this platform to those countries where they want to bring this judicial system online, right. So, this is my second. And third, for India, you know whenever Prime Ministers Saab gives me the time I would pitch for the e-courts for the quasi-judicial mechanism. We have an entire consumer forum. Look at the consumer forum. The whole goal of the consumer forum is defeated because they have not created an adequate ecosystem, or the infrastructure for the consumer forum, and this has been more dominated by the lawyer, of course, you’re a lawyer dude but I’m just saying that my son is also a lawyer. You know, so the consumer forum is difficult, you know they have to spend a lot of money for smaller disputes, and just take an example of e-commerce, where the ticket size is so small, if they’re the how they are going to resolve the dispute that is why the ODR came, that is why [inaudible] mechanism came, which is the fastest way of resolving the disputes, where all the three stages, right from negotiation to mediation to arbitration one by one after another fails, that has to be performed through the ODR if you look at the United Nations and APAC countries. So, these are the few areas which I’m very focused on, and specially for India, I’m more for this but for outside India, you know, if probably though I still have the capability to take this project forward be my own capital. Right. but if I get the investor investment, then I would have the battle the, you know, the better leverage to move faster.
N: What’s your corporate outlook at the moment with respect to investments? Have you raised any outside capital, what’s the current situation?
R: Currently I am looking for about $4 million for a runway of say about a year or 18 months, right. That mainly for investment into the AI, investment into AI, as well as I wanted to start with the augmented reality, because the video conferencing, you know, is the next version of the video conferencing is the augmented reality, where you can be a part of the physical community, you know where the other aspect of your things which are missing, which the larger the lawyer community are not comfortable looking at the people’s gestures and their behavior, through the video conferencing. So, these are the areas, and lastly is [inaudible] through the deep market penetration. That is my main object of going to the investment.
N: What kind of use-cases would come out of this? The AI and AR parts you were talking about, product development?
R: My use cases would be more of decision-making, decision-making, so that, because, so that text, means the judgment, can, like say finding out the correct position of law on that particular issue. So that can be easily found. Right. Today, you are finding through the keywords or you may know the case number or the name of the case. So if you know the proposition of the issue that you can have the proper, you know, the recommendation of the proposition of the correct position of law in that particular issue, maybe, and then you know you’re interpreting your analysis, even, you know, the certain level of disputes, you don’t even require the judge, you know. Even small ticket sizes, a certain level of dispute, even the machine, through the voice commands can resolve the dispute too. So, you know, the area they are the almost, I have about 26 or 28 use-cases for AI, but one by one we are working on it.
But, as we have more data created on this platform, as well as I, have an access to the other source of data, then the AI efforts can be ramped up, you know, otherwise, second is my the second is the second version of this platform, where more additional features are there, which can be added on.
N: Mr. Raman, are there other companies or efforts being taken similar to what you’re doing, I mean not just in India but anywhere in the world?
R: There is a company called eBRAM. So that’s basically is a Hong Kong based society, you know, and they, there are few Society was formed this eBRAM, they have already spent over a $7-8 million to create the prototype like this the way I am saying that. And, but they have not been succeeded to do that level.
N: Wonderful, Mr. Raman, wonderful. This has been a very deep, very insightful conversation and I am very glad to be walking out of this interview with a gold mine of insights and you know just a lot of fresh perspective.
R: Thank you very much, and understanding my progress. I am very happy, because being a lawyer, as well as being a technology, legal technology guy, you’re appreciating that that matters to me a lot.
🟢 N: Thank you for your time, Mr. Raman. We’ll be in touch.
🟢 R: Thank you. Very good, Thank you very much.
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