During the week from 2 August 2015 until 8 August 2015, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) opened its premises to the inaugural Young International Mediation Competition (YIMC).
The YIMC marks the latest endeavour of the Vis East Moot Foundation which, as early as 2003, introduced the Willem C. Vis Arbitration Moot Court to Hong Kong. Whilst the underlying problem was based on one used previously in the Willem C. Vis Moot Court, YIMC’s Organisers chose an entirely new path concerning the conduct of the competition which is unique in that firstly, during the first two days, students receive mediation training by experienced mediators and secondly, it includes competitions for both counsel teams and student mediators. During the competition, students had been assessed by professional counsel and mediators many of whom also being listed on the HKIAC’s panel of mediators.
The inaugural Young Mediators Competition comprised teams from six universities from three different countries, including Australia, India, and Kenya. After having received the mediation training, each participating university sent one student mediator and at least two students acting as counsel team into the competition. During the following three days of general rounds, counsel teams met with student mediators to conduct mediation sessions using HKIAC’s facilities and attempting to reach an amicable settlement of the underlying dispute. The teams represented Sexto and its long-time customer Quinto, which had run into difficulties following a fire in Sexto’s production facilities that delayed the delivery of Sexto’s newly developed computer chips. On 8 August, the two top-ranking teams, after succeeding in the semi-finals, met for a final session with a professional mediator to negotiate their dispute and find a compromise that would respond to both parties’ interests.
Ultimately, it was the National Law University Delhi which prevailed in the final round and edged out the National Law School of India University (Bangalore). Awards for best mediator and counsel were handed to David Endersby of Edith Cowan University (Australia) and Chris Ndegwa of Strathmore University (Kenya), respectively. National Law School Odisha was awarded the price for best mediation representation sheet.
The competition was perceived as a great success and is likely to further contribute to broader acceptance of mediation as a viable and efficient dispute resolution mechanism for commercial disputes and to introduce mediation to a greater number of professionals and students. Organisers, judges and participants greatly appreciated the success of the inaugural competition already peering at next year’s YIMC which will take place from 3rd – 9th July 2016. As one student stated: "Just the first two days of training were worth coming for, and learning the mediation skills has been tremendous fun."