Two major dispute resolution bodies have joined together to offer businesses what they say is a cheap and speedy way to resolve disputes online, as courts prepare for a deluge of cases arising from the global pandemic.

The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) and the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) have created a fixed cost service for disputes over sums between £5,000 and £250,000. The online resource offers facilitated negotiation, low-cost arbitration and mediation, and companies can proceed with or without a lawyer.

Courts are expecting a surge in commercial litigation in the wake of coronavirus, and in April a group of senior retired judges said international courts and arbitral tribunals need a ‘breathing space’ if they are not to be overwhelmed.

Catherine Dixon, director general of CIArb, said: ‘Ensuring everyone has access to redress is as the heart of what we do. The pandemic and its associated economic disruption have made it ever more important that we use our expertise to support businesses through this difficult time.’

James South, managing director of CEDR, added: ‘Our collaboration with CIArb means that businesses can be reassured that whatever level their dispute they can always gain access to dispute resolution processes of the highest quality, which has always been at the core of our work.’