Maxwell Chambers recently announced that it is set to become the world’s first smart hearing facility by the end of 2018, in a bid backed by the Ministry of Law to boost Singapore’s position as an international dispute resolution hub.  In this Q&A interview with Asia Law Portal, Katherine Yap, Chief Executive of Maxwell Chambers, explains this new initiative and her views on the intersection of technology and dispute resolution in the Asia-Pacific region:

What is Maxwell Chambers and what is its role in the Singapore legal market?

Maxwell Chambers was officially established as an arbitration centre in 2010. It is the world’s first integrated dispute resolution hub, housing hearing facilities as well as top international dispute resolution institutions within the premises for the convenience of visiting legal practitioners. We have 10 custom-designed hearing rooms and 12 preparation rooms, which can also be used for meetings, seminars, and conferences.

In addition to the main building, we are expanding our premises to occupy the adjacent conservation building at 28 Maxwell Road, which has been renamed Maxwell Chambers Suites. Maxwell Chambers Suites will house around 50 office spaces for dispute resolution institutions, law firms and chambers when it officially opens in 2019. We believe that the expansion will help support the growth of dispute resolution institutions in Singapore and capture more opportunities in the sector in Asia.

Maxwell Chambers recently announced that it is set to become the world’s first smart hearing facility by the end of 2018, in a bid backed by the Ministry of Law to boost Singapore’s position as an international dispute resolution hub. What are the key elements of this initiative?

With Smart Maxwell, our visitors can enjoy a seamless experience from the point they enter the building. Through a single, customised application, visitors attending hearings and meetings at Maxwell Chambers will be issued a unique and encrypted electronic access card, allowing them to tap into the rooms with their mobile devices. The smart app provides users of Maxwell Chambers with fast and private access to their hearings and meetings. In addition, the app will enable users to control room settings such as lighting and air-conditioning, as well as request for secretariat services such as photocopying.

The app will also act as a smart concierge to connect our users with food and beverage, as well as amenities in the vicinity. Users can order food from the participating restaurants and eateries in the area directly. A delivery system featuring Max the robot will be piloted to deliver documents and refreshments to hearings and meetings efficiently. Additionally, users will be able to track their expenditure through the application as well, providing real-time itemised billing and allowing our staff to speed up administrative and finance related functions.

Furthermore, the new solutions will be integrated with a revamped Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, bringing various aspects of the services offered by Maxwell Chambers onto a singular, intelligent platform, allowing us to streamline back-end operations.

Generally, we aim to boost productivity, meet the growing demand for hearings, and incur significant time and cost savings with the adoption of smart technology at Maxwell Chambers. We are really excited to roll out the upcoming developments by the end of this year.

How does Maxwell Chambers set itself apart from competitor venues?

Our service standards and the setup of our premises differentiate us from our competitors. We pride ourselves on outstanding customer service and premier hearing facilities. Our diligence in keeping up with technology and corporate knowledge also gives us an edge in this industry.

As Chief Executive of Maxwell Chambers, what is your vision for the future of dispute resolution and the use of technology in legal services in Singapore and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole in the future?

The Smart Maxwell initiative is expected to generate more business opportunities for the legal industry in Singapore by strengthening its position as one of the top dispute resolution venues in Asia. Recently, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre – a frequent user of Maxwell Chambers – announced that it set a new record of 452 new cases in 2017, a 32% increase from the 343 cases filed in 2016. We foresee that the number of dispute resolution cases in Singapore will continue to rise as we upgrade and improve our offerings.

In the Asia-Pacific as a whole, competition is tough and it is not difficult for our competitors to replicate what we are doing. While it will be a challenge, we are certain that Singapore will be able to retain its position in the region, with Maxwell Chambers’ commitment to service and continuous improvement as well as a symbiotic partnership with the Government, the profession, and the dispute resolution institutions and practitioners who use our facility. Smart Maxwell is only the beginning of our smart innovations – we are on a constant lookout for new technologies to adopt, so you can definitely expect more from us in the future!

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal. An independent writer & editor, he's the author of: A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets (Ark Group 2014).

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