WA backing for online dispute resolution

31/10/2019 - 14:27

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Victoria-based online mediation and arbitration service Immediation will officially launch in Western Australia on November 20, on the back of $1.8 million partially raised from local investors.

Laura Keily says Perth investors appreciate Immediation's innovative potential.

Victoria-based online mediation and arbitration service Immediation will officially launch in Western Australia on November 20, on the back of $1.8 million partially raised from local investors.

The platform, founded in 2017 by barrister of the Victorian bar Laura Keily, offers an alternative dispute resolution method for businesses in construction, property and insurance industries, with the company claiming it can reach outcomes within 30 days of parties agreeing to use the service.

Ms Keily told Business News she founded Immediation because while she enjoyed being on her feet in a court setting, her background as a corporate lawyer gave her insight into the shortcomings of litigation when it came to smaller claims and disputes.

“I noticed having come from a negotiation background of doing win-win deals that litigation was just diabolical, and that people were just struggling with the system,” Ms Keily said.

“There was this middle band of people who couldn’t access the system to get a reasonable outcome.

“Either they couldn’t access it at all, because they didn’t feel confident going into a claims environment, or they thought the justice would be on their side and would go into it and then it would become an intractable process.”

The platform’s WA launch comes after a capital raising supported by clients of Patersons Securities, ranked first on BNiQ’s list of stockbrokers, and Alto Capital.

Ms Keily said Immediation’s commercial executive director Nick Northcott was the first to suggest the business speak to WA’s investment community.

“He encouraged me to talk to people in Perth, because he had a good understanding that there was an appetite for innovation and entrepreneurship in that market,” she said.

“There seems to be a community that supports early-stage companies over in Perth, and it was relatively easy to get backing over there.

“They understood the potential and helped us bring together a large pool of investors.”

Though Immediation is based in Victoria, the platform’s 90-member dispute resolution panel is located throughout Australia, with former WA chief justice Wayne Martin and justice John Gilmour serving as arbitrators.

Ms Keily said Immediation’s relationship with the two WA-based jurists stemmed from Blackwall Legal’s Rob McKenzie, who she said was impressed with the technology’s sophistication and fit to market.

“I spoke to them and explained what it is, and I think from their position as senior leaders in the profession … they understand more is required,” she said.

“They could see that this platform was likely to fill a gap and provide an alternative.

“It wasn’t like pulling their arm; it was actually quite easy.”

Business News has previously reported on online mediation platform Judicate, a WA-based service founded by Pragma Lawyers’ Aaron McDonald.

Ms Keily said the recent uptake in online mediation services had arisen because of a need to constrain the financial and time costs that inevitably arose from pursuing litigation.

“It’s not like I woke up one day and said, ‘I want to be an entrepreneur, I’m going to go searching for a problem’,” she said.

“The problem was sitting in the open; you only have to talk to anyone in business or the law to tell you the system is broken.

“The validation, once you start looking for it, isn’t hard to find.”

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