A short insight into national education and development in mediation around the world from four former participants of IBA-VIAC CDRC – the Consensual Dispute Resolution Competition Vienna, representing Lebanon, Georgia, India and the UK.
The key influencer behind the Lebanese movement is the Centre Professionnel de Médiation (CPM) which is based at the Saint-Joseph University in Beirut. The centre was the first of its kind in the Middle East. It aims to provide training and courses to a wide variety of people, including lawyers, business professionals and students as well as the wider community as a whole.
In fact since its inception in 2006, the CPM’s initiative has reached a total of 5610 students in the country. It has also succeeded in formally training and registering just short of 500 professional mediators and has also begun training lawyers at the Beirut Bar as mediation advocates. The work of the CPM has been far reaching and they are even currently working on a bill in the Lebanese Parliament to allow judges to rest proceedings and give them the power to ask parties whether they would like to settle disputes in mediation.
Mediation is a fledgling industry in Georgia and as such, much of society, including legal professionals are often unaware of the concept of mediation which in turn has fostered some disbelief of the process. The National Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution has been making an effort to provide trainings, competitions and conferences on ADR-related issues. This has been important in educating the public as mediation is rarely featured on the curriculum.
Judges can refer parties to mediators, however this is usually only done as a legal requirement. Nonetheless, some judges do see the benefits and are pushing suitable cases forward to mediation. This said, a total of 98 cases were referred to mediation in 2013-2017. With a forthcoming Law on Mediation, the industry will hopefully continue to grow.
The leading professionals are very engaged in educating students to accelerate the success of mediation. Professors and students from New Vision University are currently generating ideas to form an annual regional competition with neighbouring countries in South Caucasus. In words of Sophie Tkemaladze, lawyer and mediator: “By engaging students in mediation competitions, clinics and/or ADR curriculum, ideally, we can create an army of mediation enthusiasts who will know the benefits of mediation and contribute to managing the ever-increasing number of disputes in the world.”
Though still in its nascent stages, mediation in India has picked up a momentum and the interest around it has grown massively over the last few years. Courtesy: A dedicated bunch of students and professionals working to engage this form of consensual dispute resolution as their primary tool in resolving disputes. Two of the key court-annexed mandatory mediation centres in Delhi and Bangalore have been very successful, resolving thousands of cases every year and reducing the burden on courts.
However, out of the one million or so lawyers in India, many still need to be convinced of their significant roles in the mediation process. Private mediation firms are finding it difficult to convene a mediation session, even as mediators are churned out by the dozens every month. The absence of a law and regulations governing mediation practice in India may be a reason why the litigious society remains skeptical of mediation.
Looking to the future, law schools in India have fast caught on to the importance of consensual dispute resolution in their academic curriculum. Many educational institutes in the country are proactively involved in organising conferences, workshops, competitions and seminars on consensual dispute resolution. Organisations such as the Peacekeeping and Conflict Resolution Team (founded by two CDRC alumni), has been touring the country and introducing students to different forms of consensual dispute resolution that would not involve battling in court for decades, a current sad truth of the justice system that reflects in the over 30 million pending court cases in the country.
The UK is home to many international institutions that promote mediation and other forms of consensual dispute resolution. Many barristers and solicitors are accredited mediators, some practice as mediators and others use the skills they have acquired in their training to enable earlier settlement. The skills taught in mediation training are therefore increasingly important in a country that saw around 10,000 commercial cases mediated between 2015 and 2016.
A key issue for the young mediation enthusiast can be seen in the CEDR Seventh Mediation Audit, where it is shown that the average age of a mediator is mid 50s, what is more is that an overwhelming percentage of mediators are white. This lack of diversity is an issue that needs to be addressed. One way this could be done is by putting larger emphasis on CDR at undergraduate level, as too often students are only introduced to it at their professional training qualifications.
Although there are many experienced mediators that are eager to assist young people gain experience as mediators, there still remains a huge financial barrier for young mediators because training and accreditation are enormously expensive. Perhaps with the growth of UK participants in international competitions similar student initiatives as those in India will begin to grow here as well.
Written by Jenny Driver, Jonathan Rodrigues, Karim Zein and Mariam Malidze.
Jenny Driver (UK) is a law graduate from SOAS, University of London. Previous to studying law, Jenny earned a BA in languages. She is very interested in ADR and has tanked part in CDRC Vienna in 2016 and 2017. She is currently the co-chair of the competition’s Young Global Ambassador Programme.
Jonathan Rodrigues (India) is a journalist and a certified mediator in India. With a background in law and psychology, he is pursuing dispute resolution as a career. He is the co-founder of the Peacekeeping and Conflict Resolution Team (PACT) and alumni of CDRC Vienna.
Karim Zein (Lebanon) is a Master 1 law student specializing in business law at Saint Joseph University. Karim participated in the 24th edition of the Willem Vis international commercial arbitration moot, the 3rd edition of the CDRC-Vienna and Karim’s team won the 2016 Lebanese Mediation competition. Karim is interning at the Centre Professionnel de Médiation.
Mariam Malidze (Georgia) is doing her LLM in Comparative Private and International Law and works for a local law firm as a paralegal. Having passion for ADR, she has competed in Vis Moot and IBA-VIAC CDRC. She is currently involved in research preparing a study on Arbitration in Georgia.