Global mediation success for Auckland law team

20 March 2014
The successful commercial mediation law team and coaches in Paris, are from left Brierley Penn, Anna Quinn (coach), Stephanie Panzic, Katya Curran and Jean Yang with inset, co-coach Nina Khouri.

Auckland students placed in the top ranks of an international commercial mediation competition recently.

The University of Auckland’s Faculty of Law team received the third highest score in the preliminary rounds of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Mediation Competition held in Paris in February.

The ICC competition is the pre-eminent event in the international mediation community, attracting some 500 students from 66 universities and top professional mediators (who act as mediators and judges) from around the world.

The 66 universities are admitted to the competition following an application process. This is the second time the University of Auckland has been accepted to participate, following on from its silver place finish in 2013.

The 2014 Auckland team was selected following an intense interviewing process in October. The final team comprised Brierley Penn, Stephanie Panzic (both final year students), Jean Yang and Katya Curran (both Part II students,).

This year, mediation expert, Anna Quinn joined Nina Khouri as co-coach.

The initial coaching sessions were dedicated to familiarising the team with basic mediation theory, the rules of the competition, and competition strategy. In addition to lectures and required reading, the team watched the 2009 and 2012 competitions finals on DVD and met the 2013 team.

With the ground work achieved, focus shifted to preparing the written mediation plans; these were developed over the Christmas break and into January, before the final versions were submitted to the ICC in Paris prior to the deadline of 19 January 2014.

The team spent the remaining preparation time on simulated mediation sessions, using problems from past years with local mediators under competition conditions. A full “dress rehearsal” was held at the Arbitration and Mediation Centre in Shortland Street, Auckland.

This year’s competition began on 7th February with Anna Quinn providing in person coaching in Paris and Nina Khouri “patching in” via Skype with Anna and/or the team each day. The team faced Leibniz University (Germany), Hugh Wooding Law School (Trinidad & Tobago), Kaliningrad State Institute (Russia) and Erasmus University (The Netherlands) in the preliminary rounds.

They qualified for the final rounds, placing them in the top 16 of the 66 competing teams. The team went on to defeat the University of Ottawa (Canada) in the Eighth Final and progressed to face Monash University (Australia) in the Quarter Finals.

Unfortunately the team lost this round (by two judges to one, with the swing judge saying there was just one point out of 40 in it) and was eliminated at this point. Monash went on to come second overall in the competition, which provided some comfort.

The friendly rivalry which exists between these two law schools may well provide opportunities for future collaboration,” says co-coach Anna Quinn.

“The four students have gained an enormous amount from the process of training and participating in the competition. They have gained an understanding of the benefit of conflict resolution approaches which foster collaboration and creativity; – mediation advocacy and team work skills as well as insight into what it means to be a professional mediator. These lessons will stay with them throughout their careers”, says Anna.

“In terms of the benefit to Auckland Law School, placing in the final rounds two years in a row goes a long way towards establishing the University of Auckland, Faculty of Law’s reputation internationally and locally as an emerging leader in dispute resolution education,” says Nina Khouri.

The team are indebted to this year’s local guest mediators - Miriam Dean QC, Carol Powell, Paul Sills, David Clark, Barbara McCulloch and Anet Kate for their generous pro bono assistance in training the team; the extremely generous funding from the Faculty of Law; valuable input from Geoff Sharp, the only NZ competition Judge and Mediator, and sponsorship from LEADR.

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