Mediation demonstration

LLM student Chinelo Awa attended the International Chamber of Commerce’s mediation competition and talks about making the most of the opportunity.

Each year the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) provides students around the world with the unique opportunity to test their mediation advocacy skills whilst developing a deeper understanding and appreciation for alternative dispute resolution through participation in its mediation competition.

The competition aims to train law and business students to better meet the dispute resolution needs of today’s global market, to know how and when to efficiently use mediation and how to deal with the cultural sensitivities implied in this process.

This is done by four rounds of preliminary mock mediation sessions after which 16 teams – based on their performance in the preliminaries – proceed to the final knock out rounds where they compete for a spot in the quarter finals, semi finals and finals.

This year, the competition featured over 200 mock mediation sessions, based on real cross-border commercial disputes and put the problem solving skills of students from 66 universities from more than 40 countries to the test.

I was privileged to be one of the three students that represented UCL in the eighth ICC International Commercial Mediation Competition in Paris for six days.

During the competition I was able to demonstrate my mediation advocacy skills in the presence of some of the world’s leading commercial mediators including Jeremy Lack who trained under the late founder of the ICC Competition, David Plant. After competing in the preliminary rounds against four different universities including Cornell University, the UCL team progressed to the final 16 where we successfully competed against St. John’s University School of Law for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Although we did not progress beyond the quarterfinals, I found participating in the competition to be an invaluable experience, which has changed the way I view commercial disputes and the role of mediation in international commercial dispute resolution.

The international element of the competition is an added bonus that can’t be ignored. I met and developed friendships with bright and intelligent students from all over the world including New Zealand, Bulgaria and Singapore.

The feedback from judges who were either mediators or legal practitioners from across the globe also provided a helpful insight into the cultural differences that influence the way disputes are resolved globally.

A tribute to the significance of this competition in the UK legal market is the involvement of leading UK practitioners as mediators, judges or spectators during the sessions – a partner from Linklaters, a QC and leading UK mediators watched some of my sessions. It goes without saying that this is a brilliant networking opportunity.

Proceeding to the quarterfinals has given me the self-assurance to persevere in my search for a training contract, as I am more confident in my ability to assess a commercial problem and identify practical business solutions for the benefit of a client.

Participating in the competition is definitely an opportunity worth taking.