Europe|International|Mediation

UIA Mediation Forum Meets in Zagreb

The 17th gathering of the World Forum of Mediation Centers was held under the auspices of the Union International des Avocats in Zagreb, Croatia, on October 5-6, 2012.  Mediators and Centers came from the U.S., Spain, Italy, India, Canada, Croatia, France, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Lebanon, Russia, the U.K., Slovenia, Germany, Austria, Cameroon, Hong Kong and Belgium.  About 50 people were present.  Co-President Thierry Garby arranged this conference; Co-President Colin Wall will arrange the next one, June 7-8, 2013, in Prague.

The first program was a panel discussion of corporate representatives, reporting on their experiences and preferences with commercial mediators.  The general tone was highly positive and supportive.  In particular, both Mireille Bouzols-Breton of Technip (Paris) and Gilles Martin of Saipem (Paris) said that they considered mediation to be an essential attribute of their management program.  They both are active in the oil & gas industry and engage in very large infrastructure projects.  The clients are only a few (Shell, Chevron, etc.) and the financial risks are great.  Therefore, disagreements arising from contracts must be resolved in a manner that points to future work and a minimum of public acrimony.  Marina Kralj Mlisa, of Koncar-Electrical Industry Company (Zagreb), said that she gets most of her mediators through institutions and centers rather than by personal approaches, and the other two agreed that institutions make selection of qualified neutrals much easier.  The panel also included Mladen Vukmir, who is active in the ADR Committee of INTA, and Aleš Zalar, who until recently was the Minister of Justice for Slovenia.  I had the honor to chair the discussion.

Next on the program was a lecture demonstration of “mediation styles.”   Regine Lang-Sasse of Munich Re (Munich) had a dialogue with Colin Wall on facilitative mediation principles, and then two attendees played the roles of disputants in three sequential styles of mediation: “directive” (conducted by Texas mediator Jeff Abrams), “transformative” (conducted by Slovenian mediator and trainer Marko Irsic) and “Integrative” (conducted by Quebec professor and mediator Thierry Berault).  The result was entertaining and diverting, and the three mediators were very good at articulating the theoretical basis for their styles.

Camilo Azcarate of the World Bank in Washington addressed the Bank’s internal mediation program, and was joined by Georges Feghali of Lebanon and Thierry Garby of France.

On Saturday morning there were impressive, pithy presentations by three mediation centers on their current work in identifying and addressing specific client needs.  Katarina Kresal of the newly founded European Centre for Dispute Resolution, in Ljubjana, Slovenia, described a consumer complaint procedure that has earned the support and approval of stakeholders, including many companies who financially support it and consider their participation to be a competitive advantage.  She said that collective or coordinated claims were encouraged, rather than barred as they are in America, and indeed the Centre offers its services at a discount in such instances.  Greg Hunt of CEDR gave an update on CEDR Solve.  His view — not new but always worth remembering – is that a service provider relies on relationships rather than brand recognition, product lines or trust.  Get out of the office and go to the customer.  Finally, Stefano Azzali of the Milan Chamber of Commerce Arbitration Center painted a chaotic picture of the Italian dispute market since the effective date of mandatory mediation as a condition requisite to filing cases with the court.  Italian mediation centers now number over 800, and he described it as “a zoo; and like a zoo there are nice animals and some not so nice.”

The last formal program was chaired by Fabienne van der Vleugel of France, on “Become and even better mediator.”

During the exchange of news from the Centers at the close of the program, Colin Wall noted the recent passage of a mediation ordinance in Hong Kong.  An article describing the provisions may be found here.

1 Comment
  1. Thank you very much Peter for being one of the attendees playing the roles of disputants in three sequential styles of mediation: “directive” (conducted by Texas mediator Jeff Aaron), “transformative” (conducted by Slovenian mediator and trainer Marko Irsic) and “Integrative” (conducted by Quebec professor and mediator Thierry Beriault.
    It was great pleasure seeing and feeling the different impacts of the different mediation styles, as the American scientist Leonard L. Riskin described in his several articles in the US literature.
    We all enjoyed playing our roles in this session.
    Let’s conduct a follow up.

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