The Advanced Training Mediation Workshop (6th to 8th May 2022)

The Advanced Training Mediation workshop held between the 6th to 8th May 2022 was edifying inasmuch as not only were the basic concepts in mediation revisited, elaborated and expanded upon but the experience of trainers, mediators, and even Judges as those who refer disputes to mediation, were shared, which gave different perspectives to how conflicts in various fields of litigation can be dealt with in Mediation.

The process of Mediation being fluid and dynamic is not only known to be an ‘Appropriate Dispute Resolution’ but the skills one learns as a Mediator are in fact life skills for self-development and self-evolution.

During the workshop, the emphasis on developing the art of and the importance of imbibing the qualities of ‘listening’, ‘patience’ and ‘being present’ required in a Mediator also came through, with various examples given; as did the significance of knowing the direction or the path in which a person is headed. The illustration of “Alice in Wonderland and the Cheshire Cat” was an apt example that was cited. 

The connection between Mediation and Meditation was emphasized, particularly when a person is acting as a Mediator. The Power of thought, stilling the mind, not being judgmental, empowering the parties to self-determine, the significance of establishing a rapport with the parties and the advocates, winning their confidence and getting parties to assess their Best Alternative to a Negotiated Settlement (BATNA) and the Worst Alternative to a Negotiated Settlement (WATNA) in a dispute were all extremely well explained through illustrations.

It was also educative to note the differences in the issues faced in Mediation relating to family, matrimonial and custody disputes vis-à-vis handling cheque bouncing cases, other commercial matters and Intellectual Property Rights disputes. 

The evolving dimensions of dispute resolution, such as Arb-Med/Arb-Med-Arb/Med-Arb and how these new mechanisms could be used to resolve and facilitate settlement amongst parties, were elaborated upon.

The problems in mandating Mediations were also pointed out inasmuch as if parties were referred to Mediation without their consent, there could be a possibility of resistance from them in settling disputes; or if under Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 an injunction was granted before referring the parties to the Mediation, how it may cause difficulties in settling the dispute between the parties.

 In fact, the 3 case studies given to participants during the workshop to draw-up settlement agreements, clearly flagged the importance of accurately and clearly drafted settlement agreements and the fact that these settlements when finalised, have to be wise, efficient and clear so that no disputes arise in future from the settlements themselves.

The training given at this workshop was very engaging as each session dealt with the actual experiences of the Mediators in mediating disputes, the different contexts, the errors made, the lawyers’ attitudes and the fact that a person grows in skill with each Mediation.

(Written by Nisha Bhambhani)

But the weekend of the advance training was not all work –  in fact we ended up having a lot of fun too. Here’s another account of the Samadhan Weekend, albeit a more tongue in cheek one!

 As per legend, Lord Krishna made one of the most famous attempts at mediation in the epic Mahabharata when he went to meet the Kauravas to broker peace between them and the Pandavas. He made an offer that the Pandavas would give up all their claims to Hastinapur and Indraprastha in exchange for just 5 villages, only to be rebuffed. While Lord Krishna’s attempts all those years ago might have been unsuccessful, the Delhi High Mediation and Conciliation Centre – popularly known as Samadhan – has made sure that something similar doesn’t happen to its Mediators. Over 3 days (6th to 8th May 2022) at the Heritage (Manesar), they gave us every tool in the toolkit to ensure that all the mediations we undertook as mediators in the future turned out to be successful.

Let’s go back a bit – I’m one of the few picked by Samadhan to be a part of the rigorous training involved in becoming a mediator. The basic training happened in February 2020 when (again!) over 3-days in Manesar we were educated on concepts such as the types of negotiations, how to make an opening statement, etc. In the ensuing two years, we tried our hand at co-mediations with senior mediators, trying to untangle the intricacies of a variety of disputes involving marital, commercial, and even intellectual property issues. After 2 years of some successes and some failures, this May we were invited back to Manesar for our Advanced Training. After this, we didn’t need to be co-mediators anymore; we could be independent mediators.

As soon as I entered the room where the first session was being held, I knew that there was something different this time. For one, the group seemed smaller, but on everyone’s face, you could see determination. It seemed as if they had tried mediation and committed to it as a process of successful dispute resolution. Then I noticed the number of Supreme Court and Delhi High Court judges who were in attendance. That so many judges had taken out time from their busy schedules showed the value they placed in mediation. There was an air of seriousness around us, and it infected me as well.

But don’t for a minute think that just because there was an air of seriousness, things got boring. Not at all. The judges, our trainers and even my fellow students always had a funny story to tell about their attempts at mediation, which lightened the mood all around. There were also moments of great emotion when these stories revealed the deep human impact that mediation can make on the lives of those who are in dispute. It came as a big revelation that mediation as a process resolves not only disputes and settles long-standing animosities but also heals wounds.

The change that I was earlier talking about was also visible in the training curriculum being followed. I noticed that this time we were focusing not just on how to have successful mediations and reach settlements, but also on how to write enforceable settlement agreements. Ms Veena Ralli explained later that she had fought to change the curriculum when she realised successful mediators needed to know how to write good settlement agreements. There were very informative sessions on the ingredients of an enforceable settlement, with special sessions focused on agreements in IPR, matrimonial and cheque-bouncing disputes.

Having done several co-mediations by this time, I could understand the value being added by each session over the 3 days. For myself, I can say that I have never paid so much attention to my teachers, not even in school! But in case I have given the impression that it was all work and no play, let me quickly correct that impression. The evening dinners with the impromptu singing sessions were a perfect end to each day of rigorous academic study. I will forever cherish the bonds of friendship and affection developed with the trainers and my fellow mediators over the 3 days. All in all, it was a perfect weekend of scholarship, enquiry, and camaraderie!

(Written by Pallavi Mohan)