International Competition in Mediation: Online in Vienna

International Competition in Mediation: Online in Vienna

Students of the Faculty of Law of Charles University won the award for the Most Effective Opening Address at the IBA-VIAC CDRC VIENNA The Mediation and Negotiation Competition, where they had a chance to compete against their peers from many different parts of the world.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the competition which took place on 10 to 14 July 2021 was not held in Vienna, as is normally the case, but via videocalls. The online format did not, however, discourage the competitors’ determination to give their best performance.

The team made up of Adelaida Křelinová, Petr Ráliš, Matěj Rösner, and Martin Srna competed in the role of negotiators, while Martin Horák and Anna Vondřejcová tried to find common ground between the adversaries as mediators.

Both teams prepared for the competition for more than six months, not only as part of the optional subject Preparation for the CDRC Mediation and Negotiation Competition, but mostly in their free time. The negotiators were coached by Lukáš Jirásek and Tomáš Ryza, and the mediators by Tereza Hanajová and Véronique-Laura Portešová. All the coaches are former participants in this competition and active members of the association Student Mediation Prague, just like some of the competitors.

Although none of the teams qualified beyond the four preliminary rounds in the competition, the preparation and participation in the competition itself was a very interesting life experience for them. They had a chance to test and improve their negotiation and mediation skills, which will definitely come in handy not only in their future practice, but also in their personal life. However, it would be unfair to say that the competitors came back from “online Vienna” empty- handed, as the mediator team won the award for the Most Effective Opening Address with their eloquence and thorough preparation.

So what were the negotiations about?

This year’s case could hardly be more current. It seemed that two pharmaceutical companies, whose relationship is based on a number of interconnected licences to use adenovirus vectors for the manufacturing a Covid-19 vaccine, were heading inevitably to an arbitration with a very uncertain ending, when they decided, almost at the very last minute, to try to find common ground via mediation. During the mediation, the companies sought a compromise on the licences awarded, cooperation in the manufacturing the vaccines, and last but not least, their future business relationship. There was an additional challenge –a third supranational pharmaceutical corporation, which could potentially threaten their position by making its own claims, was apparently watching their every step from a distance.