The Civil Justice Council’s ADR Working Party produced its ADR Interim Report last October, appropriately during Mediation Awareness Week. Within the Report is the recognition that there is a challenge to make ADR ‘culturally normal’. One way of trying to achieve this is to ensure that today’s students – including law students – are very familiar with ADR. To that end mediation competitions such as the National Mediation Competition held recently at the University of London on 26th and 27th January play an important role.
In line with the increasing number of undergraduate law courses which include a module on ADR, mediation competitions are arguably more significant now than the traditional moots. Over 20 institutions participated in the competition at the University of London last Friday and Saturday and over 60 nations will compete in Paris next week at the 13th International Chamber of Commerce (‘ICC’) Mediation Competition from schools across all continents. Having judged in both competitions, it is a genuine pleasure to see the participants of these competitions demonstrate enthusiasm both to practice their skills as well as learn from others. Ultimately their future clients will benefit from the added value their broader skillset provides.
Mediation is not of course the preserve of lawyers. It was interesting to note recently the growth in 2016 of non-lawyer mediators in an article which described the available post-graduate courses in mediation and conflict resolution. No-one doubts the need for these skills in an increasingly complex world and the more people who can navigate the least destructive course through conflict, the better.
In the Working Party’s view, standards and consistency are identified as requiring improvement to prompt greater judicial and public confidence in ADR and mediation. As the number of students and public who learn about mediation grows, it is hoped that education will accelerate the process of making mediation and ADR the cultural norm. A welcome achievement could be to reach greater openness towards exploring time and cost-efficient ways to resolving disputes, sooner.