The ICC headquarters in Paris this year hosted the 10th annual International Mediation Competition from the 5th - 11th February 2015.
Aside from consumption of coffee, croissants and attending evening cocktail parties, the worlds top 130 mediators and expert academics coverged upon central Paris to share best practise, facilitate and judge student teams from business and law background in a competitive mediation situation.
The participants travelled from as far as New Zealand, China, Russia and South America. 67 Universities were represented with students from 49 differing countries with an almost even spread between male and female amongst the 500 or so students.
The status and prestige of the event is evident through the headline support from KPMG, Clifford Chance, Eversheds, Linklaters, CEDR, McDermott Will & Emery amongst many many others. The prizes for winning teams include internships with CEDR, the ICC, Eversheds, a shadowing program with JAMS in its New York office amongst several other "money can't buy" opportunities.
So what is the ICC and what part does it play in all of this? The International Chamber of Commerce or ICC, was created in 1919 by a group of entrepreneurs to represent business globally and provide a mechanism to govern trade with rules and processes to collaborate and resolve disputes in the private sector. Things have developed over the years with the ICC maintaining its place at the forefront of commercial diplomacy with mechanisms supporting international dispute resolution, business leadership and collaboration.
The level of preparation, planning and skill of those participating in the ICC's International Mediation Competition is evident. Competing teams involved undertake role plays of complex business negotiations. Both client and counsel are played by students whilst the mediator provides a very realistic account of their interventions and facilitation. Cultural differences in styles and approaches to reaching settlement are evident.
As the week progresses, teams move to the latter stages of the competition and emotions run high. The whole experience for those involved certainly does reflect the reality of complex commercial disputes: not all apologies, friendly hugs and apple pie. The opportunity to take part whilst networking with global peers and absorbing practical advice provided by the world's top mediators is something any aspiring law or business student should give full consideration.
The growth and popularity of mediation as a tool within commercial dispute resolution is something which is set to grow exponentially as commodoitization arrives in legal services, "med - arb" or "arb - med" gains traction and legislation moves towards the inclusion of ADR mechanisms within Civil justice frameworks across the world.
The work of Etienne Clementel as founding president of the ICC has endured almost 100 years of change and progress. I expect the ICC mediation competition will continue in a similar fashion whilst the business leaders and top legal counsel take their experiences and new found friends into the future enabling international cooperation and trade for the centuries ahead.
Callum Murray - Co-chair Young Mediators' Group