Hundreds of business and law students from around the world are set to compete in the 10th edition of the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) biggest educational event, the ICC International Commercial Mediation Competition, on 6-11 February in Paris.
The competition, together with the 2nd International Mediation Roundtable on 5 February, makes up ICC’s Mediation Week – a “must-attend” event on the international dispute resolution calendar. This year will the biggest yet, with more than 500 participants expected.
We sat down with Hannah Tuempel, Senior Counsel and Manager of the ICC International Centre for ADR, who tells us more about the importance of the ICC Mediation Week in the global dispute resolution community.
What, for you, is most exciting about the ICC International Commercial Mediation Competition?
The event is exciting – and extremely valuable – in many ways. Firstly, we’re training a new generation of mediation wise lawyers and business people who learn how to solve disputes effectively. Secondly, we’re supporting the development of a worldwide network of mediators who use the ICC Mediation Competition to exchange experience and know-how. And thirdly we’re creating a forum where all stakeholders in international dispute resolution can exchange their experience and learn from each other – across generational and cultural divides.
Over a decade, the competition has become increasingly diverse. Where do the participants come from?
From Sao Paulo to Melbourne, from Pristina to New York, 67 universities were selected to take part in the 10th ICC Mediation Competition, through a very competitive selection process. This year 34 countries are represented. Wuhan University (China), University of Lagos (Nigeria), University of Carthage (Tunisia), and many more, are fielding universities for the first time.
How are students’ international mediation skills tested during the week?
It’s pretty intense! Over six days, teams of up to four students are pitted against each other in nearly 150 mock commercial disputes across Paris. Two university teams compete in each session. And each team is represented by two students who take the role of the company representative – for example the CEO or project manager – and the external lawyer. All the case scenarios reflect real commercial disputes – ranging from patent disputes to cross-border trade agreements. And just as in real life, participants apply the ICC Mediation Rules. Cases are mediated by real professional mediators, and observed by a further two professional mediators who evaluate the students’ performance.
Many of the world’s leading commercial mediators helped set up the event and will participate as volunteer judges and mediators. What’s their main motivation?
Yes, we are very fortunate indeed that so many internationally renowned commercial mediators accept to come back each year to the Competition. I think there are different reasons for this. ICC Mediation Week has gained a reputation as the world’s main forum for practising commercial mediators from across the globe. You could say it’s become mediation’s ‘place to be’! That’s a huge evolution since the event was launched with just 10 teams in 2006. But also I think the mediators simply enjoy meeting each other and having the chance to see each other work. This is quite unique in the world of confidential mediation: mediators usually work behind closed doors. And finally, I think they are very passionate about what they do, and are excited to teach the next generation.
Tell us about the 2nd International Mediation Round Table, on 5 February, the day before the competition kicks off.
We launched the Round Table last year as a forum for the mediation practitioners and ADR academics taking part in the ICC Mediation Competition to exchange best practices and new techniques. The first year of the event was such a success that we kept it on the agenda for this year – and have a completely sold out event! This year, the Round Table will feature ICC’s first MED(iation) talk – the mediation version of the TED talks.
ICC Mediation Week must be a lot of hard work for all involved… but the 10th anniversary also seems a good reason to celebrate.
Yes indeed – we’ll definitely find time for some well-deserved celebrations along with all the hard work! In particular, I think it’s worth celebrating 10 years of combined support – financial and logistic – from so many stakeholders. This year, we’re particularly grateful to our top sponsor KPMG – and to the many law firms, associations, other dispute resolution institutions, media partners, consultancy firms and the bar of Paris – not to mention our amazing staff and volunteers – who have helped make this event a reality.
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