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14th Cologne Academy on Business Negotiation and Mediation

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The 14th Cologne Academy on Business Negotiation and Mediation took place from August 25 - 29, 2019. The Academy started with a Welcome Reception at the seminar building of the University of Cologne. IMG_20190825_182011.jpgDuring the Reception the participants had the opportunity to get to know each other while having a cold Kölsch.

On Monday, the 14th Cologne Academy on Business Negotiation and Mediation started with an introduction into negotiation. The first two days were led by Professor Ian Macduff from the Centre for ICT Law at Auckland Law School. The participants looked at the different stages of a negotiation and analyzed what a good negotiation should be like. Professor Macduff has a great way of engaging everyone in the tasks and always took his time to answer everybody’s questions.

The day ended with an interesting city tour through Cologne and with a Kölsch at a local brewery.

P1010029.JPGThe second day consisted of adapting negotiation skills developed the previous day and techniques of mediation. Common skills such as active listening and discussing were highlighted. Furthermore, ethical and psychological aspects and the difference to vis-à-vis manipulation were discussed. During the day, the several steps undertaken in the mediation process were analyzed, focusing mainly on the initial phases such as agreeing to mediate, the pre-mediation correspondence and how to adequately prepare an opening statement. Additionally, the role of lawyers at each stage was discussed in depth.

The learning process was based on a very dynamic approach that included critical analysis of videos, simulating each moment of a mediation, completing tasks in small groups and taking part in a highly participative exchange of ideas with the other participants and Ian Macduff. A great emphasis on types of mediation, and the values and principles governing the process such as constructive dialogue and party autonomy, guided our activities in the afternoon. The knowledge built in those sessions provided the participants with a concrete overview of mediation, providing us with expertise that would be necessary to make use of the following day.

IMG_20190827_191510.jpgIn the evening the participants very much enjoyed the boat tour on the Rhine.

The third day was led by Dr. Martin Svatos a mediator and the President of the Working Group of the ICC Czech Republic for Mediation.

The different phases of mediation were analyzed. The importance of a mediato"s summary activity was discussed. It is meant to clarify the interests of the parties, reduce cognitive distortions and lead to feedback from the parties.

P1010031.JPGFurthermore, the opportunity to introduce a legal evaluation of a case within the mediation process was thoroughly discussed. Martin Svatos touched upon the reframing technique as a way to foster the dialogue among the parties and open their minds to creative solutions. While analyzing the generation of alternative solutions, the group considered several strategies the mediator may employ for helping the parties to come up with new ideas – focusing especially on ‘indirect suggestion’ techniques.

By discussing those strategies with a partner, the participants acquired an very rich list of potential strategies and exchanged views on the role of the mediator as proposer of potential solutions. The group finally examined the procedural steps and the content of the caucus sessions. Martin Svatos enriched the session with several examples taken from his professional experience as a mediator.

P1010041.JPGOn the last day, some of the terminology and contemplated the difference between a dispute and a conflict was reviewed. The workshop leader, Professor Berger, also explored the “limits of authority” problem, as well as what the “success of mediation” actually means.

Furthermore, the possible terms that had to be included in a settlement agreement were discussed. The participants also found it interesting to look at the “science” behind the SCTA, and the reasons for the failure of mediation, or for mediation to make no sense.

In the afternoon’s joint session, the Academies were rounded up by a comparison between arbitration, mediation and negotiation, and by discussing the issues of drafting an escalation clause.