After six months of blood, sweat and tears coaching the Freiburg Vis Moot Team, I thought I had had enough of the Vis. But when I received an invitation to join the workshop “Mediating the Vis”, organised by the “Deutsche Institution für Schiedgerichtsbarkeit”, I changed my mind. Over the past year, I have heard a lot about mediation and was curious to learn more about other forms of dispute resolution, especially after spending half a year exploring the world of arbitration (twice). It is important to note that the workshop was NOT about meditation (with a “t”) and practicing awareness.
Three weeks after the announcement of the winner of the Vis Moot 2023, about fifteen interested Vis Moot participants gathered at the heart of German arbitration, Bonn – Germany’s former capital and seat of the “Deutsche Institution für Schiedgerichtsbarkeit”. Over two days, we learned a lot about different types of dispute resolution, negotiation tactics and how to mediate a dispute based on the 30th Vis problem.
On the first day we started with a short recap of the 30th Vis as a warm-up. Trying to find out what Drone Eye Plc (Claimant) and Equatoriana Geoscience (Respondent) actually wanted led to the first discussions. Katja Kröll and Natascha Tunkel, two experienced mediators, then introduced us to dispute mechanisms other than litigation and arbitration. Stefan Kröll and Thomas John provided further very interesting insights. At least I was surprised how many mechanisms there are. We then had to discuss in small groups which mechanism would have been best for Claimant and Respondent, using a new tool that suggests suitable dispute resolution methods after answering a few questions.
After enjoying the gorgeous weather during the lunch break, we delved into the details of the Vis case, especially the financial details, and developed further arguments for Claimant and Respondent, assuming they would negotiate a settlement. Towards the end of the first day, we took a closer look at mediation and were immediately thrown into the deep end by having our first mock mediation. Many of us enjoyed the fact that we did not have to point out every single mistake made by the other party, but that we could work together with them to find a sustainable solution. We celebrated the end of the first day in a bar in Bonn catching up and updating each other on how we survived the past weeks without the Moot (most of us were sick).
On the second day, we picked up where we left off: “learning by doing”. Each of us had the opportunity to play the role of either a party representative or a mediator. As we received feedback from mediation experts after each round (one thing we did not miss during the three-week break), we learned more and more about the details of the mediation process and the role of a mediator in a real mediation.
In short, the two-day workshop was an excellent opportunity for (former) Vis Moot participants to go beyond the world of arbitration and gain interesting insights into mediation and negotiation practice.
Tom Lukas Aust