Benefits of mediation in business strategy voiced at Mediation Week launch conference

  • 7 February 2013
ICC Advertising and Marketing

Speaking at the ICC 4th International Commercial Mediation, Michael Leathes, former Head of Intellectual Property at BAT, stated that while mediation offers an 80% success rate, a depressingly small number of companies seem to have a conflict management system in place.

Outlining the steps companies can take towards conflict management in order to increase their company’s price-earnings ratio, Mr Leathes referred to the ‘Medici Effect’ theory to demonstrate how mediation was a concept at a multiplicity of intersections that the world is starting to open their minds to. “Mediation is not a branch of law but a branch of business negotiation,” he said.

The sold-out conference, tailored to the interests of in-house counsel, kick-starts ICC’s annual Mediation Week, a dynamic, seven-day programme of activities to highlight the merits of mediation as a commercial dispute settlement method.

Featuring the 8th ICC International Mediation Competition, ICC Mediation Week will see 600 participants converge for a rare chance to take stock of the latest developments in alternative dispute resolution and share experiences with dispute resolution professionals from more than 40 countries.

The highly interactive conference was attended by over 100 participants who gained insight from mediation expert on how alternative and amicable dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms can provide companies with greater control over escalating costs and risks of other dispute resolution processes, including arbitration and litigation.

Stating that legal remedies rarely solve the business issue at hand, Alexander Steinbrecher, Legal Counsel at Bombardier, said: “Clients need to take an informed decision based on an objective legal assessment when it comes to provisioning risks and opportunities. External counsel should not take the decision alone.”

Afternoon panel sessions culminated in much agreement that a won legal case is not always a won business case and that the early disputes are resolved the better for business.

Christine Guerrier, Vice-President of Dispute Resolution and Litigation for Thales, France, told participants that Thales’s budget for legal costs had been cut by approximately one-third down due to the increasing use of mediation. Ms Guerrier however acknowledged how difficult it could be to convince legal teams that who is right or wrong is not really the issue in a mediation.

In an inter-company exchange on how to implement a mediation-friendly company policy

Mr Steinbrecher underscored how important it was for in-house counsel to be aware of problems before their clients. “If information exchanges work well, in-house counsel should be able to see the fire before the client sees the storm,” he said.

Isobelle Hautot of Orange said that appropriate training would help to change the current mind-sets of managers and legal professionals and to get them thinking about how to resolve problems in
their early stages.

The conference was moderated by Hannah Tuempel, Manager of the ICC International Centre for ADR, and Christopher Newmark, experienced Mediator, Arbitrator and Counsel, who summarized and visualized each session in the form of a conference ‘mind map’ to be used as a practical takeaway reference tool for participants.

The event received the support of several in-house counsel associations including the Association of Corporate Counsel Europe, Corporate Counsel International Arbitration Group, the European Company Lawyers Association, and the Round Table Conflict Management and Mediation of the German Economy.

ICC also wishes to thank gold sponsors Accuracy and Fidal, silver sponsors King & Spalding, KPMG, Taylor Wessing and Winston Strawn, and bronze sponsors Diales, FTI Consulting and The John Hardy Group for their support.