SINGAPORE — The Republic is exploring the possibility of building a virtual platform for international dispute resolution that will offer arbitration hearings and mediation sessions in the metaverse, Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong said on Wednesday (July 20th).

This platform could leverage augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology to allow parties involved in litigation to see a replica of a relevant site.

“For example, in construction disputes, (it would mean) transporting the conflicting parties to the site instead of looking at 2D plans and diagrams,” said Mr. Tong, who is also minister of culture, community and youth.

“So they can step into the actual tunnel or oil containment facility, for example, to examine the construction dispute from the perspective of an augmented reality 3D representation of real space, allowing parties to really feel like they’re looking at the relevant defect in question and making sure they’re all on the same page.”

The Minister noted that many companies, legal advisers, arbitrators, mediators and expert witnesses come to Singapore for arbitration hearings and mediation services, even if their disputes do not have a substantial connection with Singapore.

He added that the Republic is a prime location for these services due to its strong legal system and infrastructure, top-notch rule of law and justice system, and accessibility and connectivity.

These are qualities that remain accessible online, in a virtual space, Mr. Tong said.

“To meet the demands of these businesses, we will continually improve and update our policies, review legislation and review services to not only keep pace with global developments, but perhaps be ahead of the curve. .

“If companies see the need for an online replica of what Singapore might offer in the real-world space, for that to be replicated in the metaverse space, we will explore building one.”

Mr Tong was speaking at the opening of this year’s TechLaw.Fest, an annual law and technology conference. The three-day event features speakers from the legal and technology scene, as well as academics and government officials.

The Metaverse is a shared virtual world connected by the Internet, in which people use digital avatars to participate in many social, entertainment, and commercial activities that currently take place in the physical world.

Tong said the government is closely studying the characteristics of the metaverse and its implications, risks and related legal issues. “For example, immersive, interactive, decentralized and anonymous elements pose potential risks to online security, consumer protection, privacy and intellectual property protection,” he said.

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