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4th Cologne Summer Academy Business Negotiation and Mediation



This year I had the pleasure of attending the 4th Summer Academy on Business Negotiation and Mediation organised by CENTRAL and the German Institute of Arbitration (DIS). My fellow attendees came from a variety of backgrounds: practising lawyers and mediators, oil and gas lawyers, commercial lawyers, overseas academics and students and a healthy contingent from the University of Cologne! Many nationalities were represented: Singapore, Italy, Turkey, Angola, Russia, Germany and New Zealand.


The week got off to a great start with a welcome at DIS headquarters in central Cologne. The fantastic organisational capabilities of the CENTRAL and DIS teams would be a feature of the week. Visitors to Cologne had the chance to sample local specialty foods such as "Halve Hahn", "Himmel und Äad" and "Rievekooche" - of course washed down with Kölsch (or Apfelschorle for non-drinkers). From the beginning a convivial atmosphere within the group and also with members of the International Commercial Arbitration Academy was apparent.


mediation2009-1.gifThe first day of the Academy proper was led by Professor Grande Lum from the University of California Hastings College of the Law at San Francisco who was attending for the first time. Prof. Lum"s background in the Harvard University "Getting to Yes" project was shared with attendees as well as his further research on the subject of persuasive negotiation. Attendees learned new techniques and approaches for negotiations in the context of business disputes, in addition to gaining crucial skills of persuasion useful for all facets of a legal career. The day concluded with a real-life negotiation between the class and Professor Lum where a copy of his "The Negotiation Fieldbook" was up for grabs. A colleague from Italy managed to wrest the book from Professor Lum"s hands with a convincing argument.


mediation2009-2.gifChristopher Newmark, a lawyer and mediator from Spenser Underhill Newmark, LLP, London joined the class for the second day. We moved from negotiation into learning about the mediation process. Mr Newmark is a busy mediator for commercial disputes and was able to provide a detailed insight into the process and his personal approach. As was the case with the other lectures, the structure of the class followed the scenes from Professor Berger"s book and DVD "Private Dispute Resolution in International Business". This provided the opportunity for analysis of the scenes from a practitioners point of view.


mediation2009-3.gifOn day three, Alexander Oddy, head of alternative dispute resolution for Herbert Smith, LLP, joined the class. He provided insight of negotiation and mediation from a practitioners viewpoint. The class enjoyed the contrast between Mr Newmark"s mediator view (an impartial one) and Mr Oddy"s advocate perspective (very much focussed on achieving the best result for his client). Mr Oddy passed on "war stories", anecdotes and tricks of the trade from his practice which kept the class entertained. In the afternoon we were able to escape the heat to more pleasant surrounds in an outdoor courtyard where Mr Oddy presented his firm"s research into ADR use by multinational corporates - providing context to the Academy as it was clear that ADR use is increasingly popular in Europe and the U.S. as a cost effective way of settling disputes.


mediation2009-4.gifFinally we experienced Prof. Berger"s famed teaching style on day four. The DVD dispute we had been following on screen all week also came to a conclusion with the "pop" of a champagne cork as the parties reached an agreement (or was it a pre-mature celebration???). The class learned some of the pitfalls of drafting settlement agreements, especially when the terms are not specific enough to bind the parties to measurable obligations. Once again, we learned real and applicable skills for use in our careers.


The academic endeavours in the classroom (and courtyard!) were counterbalanced by a full social schedule. A tour of the city of Cologne was interesting even for the local students and the Brauhaus visit that followed it justified the "open end" billing it had received in the timetable. No Summer Academy would be complete without the trip on the river Rhine. We were joined on board by the Academy lecturers and also by local dispute resolution practitioners from Luther, and a large contingent from CMS Hasche Sigle who were all also sponsor the event. Picture perfect weather was "arranged" by CENTRAL for the trip affording the breathtaking image of the sun setting behind the Cologne Dom.


The attendees of the Negotiation and Mediation Academy left the joint session with the International Commercial Arbitration Academy on Thursday afternoon knowing they had had a full week and armed with new skills regardless of career level. If there were any questions outstanding, the answer is sure to be found in the (weighty) copy of Prof. Berger"s book all attendees were given on their departure.


Andreas Heuser, LL.B (NZ)