Maxwell Chambers to be world's first smart hearing facility

The app can be used as an electronic key to get through the turnstiles, securely check into hearing rooms and offices, and make requests for secretarial services.
The app can be used as an electronic key to get through the turnstiles, securely check into hearing rooms and offices, and make requests for secretarial services.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - There is a mobile phone application for everything, and now one for dispute resolution hearings in Singapore as well.

Not content with being the world's first integrated dispute resolution complex, Maxwell Chambers is now gearing up to become the world's first smart hearing facility by the end of this year.

The app can be used as an electronic key to get through the turnstiles, securely check into hearing rooms and offices, and make requests for secretarial services. It also gives users access to participating eateries in the area for food deliveries.

And just for good measure, a robot named Max will deliver files and food within the building, which will incorporate other elements of smart technology.

In a demonstration of the technology's capacities, Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah remotely ordered a roast chicken sandwich using the mobile app, which Max promptly delivered.

The technology will be rolled out as part of a "Smart Maxwell" initiative, launched on Wednesday (April 4) by Maxwell Chambers and the Ministry of Law (MinLaw).

Ms Indranee said the initiative would leverage technology to "enhance convenience, comfort and security for users" and will generate more business opportunities for the legal industry in Singapore.

"'Smart Maxwell' is also in line with Singapore's smart nation effort," she added.

Smart technology will help speed up administrative and finance-related functions and boost productivity, potentially saving over $500,000 a year, said MinLaw.

It will be made available to tenants at no additional cost. However, tenants will be able to opt out of using the technology if they so prefer.

Jointly developed with local tech start-ups Habitap and Techmetics, the technology will also be extended to the adjacent Maxwell Chambers Suites - a 120,000 sq ft expansion that will be housed in the Red Dot Traffic Building - when the building is completed in 2019.

As of now, tenancy figures for the new building remain unchanged from June 2017 at 65 per cent, said a MinLaw spokesman.

Maxwell Chambers houses a number of top firms involved in dispute resolution, which is offered as an alternative to litigation. Last year, a record number of 204 cases were heard at the complex. The Singapore International Arbitration Centre, a frequent user of the complex, saw 452 new cases filed in 2017 from parties in 58 countries involving some US$4.07 billion (S$5.34 billion).

Mr David Bateman, an international arbitrator at long-time tenant 39 Essex Chambers, said that the smart technology would "help a lot".

"We require that kind of up-to-date technology in the building for our day-to-day work," said the 64-year-old.

"However, it's possible that there might be some early-stage wrinkles - that tend to come with new, advanced technology - that might need to be ironed out first."