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The National Law Institute University, Bhopal (NLIU) in collaboration with the International Academy of Dispute Resolution (INADR) held the 1st edition of NLIU Khaitan & Co. INADR Mediation Tournament from February 16-19, 2012. The National Law School Bangalore emerged as winners of both the first and second prize. CLC Delhi won the first prize for Best Client-Counsel Team followed by SOEL, Chennai.
The event was different from other such competitions as the first two days were dedicated solely to workshops in order to acquaint the participants with the nuances of mediation. The INADR faculty conducted the workshop with an aim to spread awareness about mediation and highlight its merits. On the first day H. Case Ellis, President of INADR; Thoma P. Valenti, member of Board of Directors of INADR and arbitrator for American Arbitration Association (AAA) for the past 15 years; Rahim Shamji, member of Board of Directors of INADR and representative of BPP Law School London conducted a day long interactive session with the participants.
The faculty from INADR talked about the factors that render mediation better that litigation. They also said that because the process is voluntary the resolution so reached has a high probability of compliance. Where litigation puts the parties against one another, mediation places them at the same pedestal and allows them to realise that an amicable solution beneficial to both of them is a better alternative.
Shamji stressed on ‘cultural baggage’ that clients carry and the need for the mediators to be sensitive towards this. Valenti said that a good mediator needs to be patient, a good listener and a good person. According to Ellis, “Law schools tend to teach students to be adversarial. But mediation requires a different skill set entirely. One needs to be patient, a good listener and a people’s person. Empathy is essential. Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If’ personifies an ideal mediator.”
On February 17, mediation stalwart Richard Clakins carried forward the workshop. Calkins discussed the nuances of mediation and also gave key suggestions to aid the competitors in fulfilling their roles as mediators, councillors and clients. He further added that creative solutions are always welcome in mediation.
Armed with acumen shared by the faculty of INADR, the teams were geared up and excited for the challenge of the competition on the next day. The preliminaries consisting of 3 rounds were held with problems varying from family matters to corporate affairs. Out of 30 participating teams, 12 qualified for the next round. The qualifying teams were: SLCU Bangalore, GLC Mumbai, CLC Delhi, NLU Jodhpur(A), SOEL Chennai, ILS Pune(A), ILS Pune(B). Amity Delhi, NLSIU Bangalore(A), DES Pune, NLSIU Banagalore(B) and NLU Delhi. The mediators who broke to the semi-finals were from NLSIU Bangalore(B), GNLU Gandhinagar(A), NLU Jodhpur(A) , RMLNLU Lucknow, SLCU, SOEL Chennai, NLU Delhi, ILS Pune (A), NLSIU Bangalore (A), DES Pune, CLC Delhi and ILS (B).
The NLIU – INADR Competition concluded with both teams representing NLSIU, Bangalore taking home the first and second prize of the Best Mediator Team and CLC Delhi won the first prize for Best Client-Counsel Team followed by SOEL, Chennai. Aaron Rossi Kamath from Christ University, Bangalore was declared the Best Mediator, while Aditya Singha and Ayush Shrivasta of NLU Delhi were declared the Best Individual Client/Counsel Pair. Appreciating the efforts put by the various teams, top 8 teams in each category were awarded.
The valedictory ceremony was held at the NLIU Auditorium where Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice (Retd.) VK Aggrawal, the Chief Guests, shared the dais with Mr. Ashish Razdan, Principal Associate of Khaitan & Co. and faculty members from both NLIU and INADR.
NLIU’s Prof. Surya Prakash initiated the ceremony with words of congratulation to all the teams and appreciated their dedication to the competition. Prof. S.S. Singh, also from NLIU, addressing the gathering lauded INADR for its self-less initiative of sponsoring and organising mediation competitions around the world and thanked INADR for choosing to work with NLIU in their very first event in India. He also voiced hope that such events continue occurring in the university.
Mr. Razdan remarked that it was a pleasure for Khaitan & Co to lend support to the event and said that as alumnus of NLIU he is proud to see where the university has reached. He added that he was happy to see talents maturing in the future lawyers. Mr. Ellis was elated to witness students exceeding his expectations. Lauding the organisation skills of the students he said that he would surely like to come back to NLIU.
Justice VK Aggrawal pointed out that the principles of justice are enshrined in the constitution itself and mediation is an effective step towards the same. Justice Patnaik said that mediation is a beacon of change for the better and shows that the traditional concept of stringent procedure is dissolving. In his experience, he said, certain disputes cannot be settled in courts but require mediation.
In the 4-day event it was observed that the competition pushed the students to think out of the box, learn to put oneself in other’s shoes and come up with novel solutions. As the rounds called for solutions not just from the mediators but from the clients and counsels as well, by the end of the day it was clear that a spirit of compromise and co-operation was taking over.
(This report has been prepared by NLIU student Anant Raje. Photographs courtesy Ritwik Parashar and Devyani Gupta)