Bar & Bench: What made you choose this particular competition?
JGLS: We got interested in the idea of pre-trial dispute settlement mechanisms during our 7th semester. We realized that the need for such a culture where parties would strategically weigh their disputes before simply approaching courts was missing in India.
If ones looks at American statistics, less than 5 percent of cases ever make it to trial, and that is because they have a culture of effective mediation and negotiation. Home grown lawyers in the states really advocate the need to mediate before litigating. Hence, we focused on inculcating an ADR culture in our law school, in particular, negotiation and mediation. And a natural extension of this realization was to participate in competitions, especially in the ADR circuit.
The NLS NMC is an eminent and rigorous competition that puts one’s ADR skills though the litmus test. This competition was also guised as a pre-qualification event and acted as the Indian Qualifiers for two very popular and enterprising ADR events, the ICC mediation Competition and the International Negotiation Competition. We participated in the mediation and the negotiation legs of the event and ultimately were declared winners of the mediation competition and also took home the trophy for the best overall University for winning two out of three events. Aman NL and Shivansh Malik participated in the Negotiation competition and Harsh Loonker and Siddharth Malik participated in the Mediation competition.
B&B: What was the preparation phase like?
JGLS: The core strength of the JGLS team lies in generating creative options in order to smoothly facilitate various types of disputes. We’re constantly honing and developing our skill-sets so we can approach mediation from a multi-disciplinary lens which in turn improves upon our option-generating capabilities.
Since the problems ranged across different subject matters, we had to familiarize ourselves with the issues and disputes that generally crop up in those areas. For example, if our subject concerned a construction dispute, we would spend some time on understanding the genesis of this field, the most common construction disputes, the most prominent issues amongst other allied things.
We ensured that we were familiar with all legal as well as commercial precedent set in a particular industry. Typically, our approach is to channelize our energy into this rudimentary phase of preparation since it helps develop the primary underpinnings on which the crux of our participation rests. As budding lawyers, we made good use of our writing skills to create effective mediation plans that would highlight strategy and structure of arguments.
Mediation being an oral tradition, we put in a fair amount of time watching mediation videos and rehearsing our arguments and dialogues.
Additionally, some members of the team have taken part in a week-long international civil-commercial mediation training session conducted by Mr. Rahim Shamji, who is the CEO and Founder of ADR-ODR International Ltd. This training programme focused on the nuanced issues that crop up in commercial mediation and business relationships.
B&B: How would you rate the competition?
JGLS: Mediation competitions are unique since they require one to fight not only the problems but also the person on the opposite side of the table. The distinct undercurrent of competition garbed in the niceties of cordial conversation ensure that you play the man, not the odds. This is what makes it all the more interesting.
Using this as a litmus test, we rate this competition a full ‘A’ in our book of events to participate in. It had the perfect balance of competitiveness and quality. Plus, the members of the organizing committee were very nice and welcoming. A huge shout-out to the 2016 ‘OC’ back at NLSIU.
B&B: Any special moments that you would like to share?
JGLS: The judges seemed to really appreciate our conduct. After watching our negotiation, they very kindly commented on the rising standards of mediation/negotiation in the country. It is always encouraging and heart warming to receive such comments from experienced members of the legal fraternity.
With clear and consistent preparation, Harsh Loonker and Siddharth Agarwal had emerged as overall winners in the NLS-NMC Competition in 2016, which earned us a spot in the ICC Mediation Week, 2017 at Paris. For the team, this honor is a catalyst to our preparation and research for the competition.
We’re currently engaged in rigorous preparation. As with any competition, it involves a clear reading, understanding and absorption of the problems presented to us. See you next time, on ‘Jindal wins another………’!