Teaching Negotiation & Mediation Skills in Tbilisi - International Black Sea University
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Teaching Negotiation & Mediation Skills in Tbilisi

Law and State Governance School

Being right is not the same as obtaining a right solution

From 19 – 28th of April Tabitha Van Den Berg was a visiting lecturer at International Black Sea University (IBSU) in Tbilisi. Over ten years ago Tbilisi was her hometown while she worked on a project supported by the European Commission. Though she has visited Georgia every year since then to visit family and friends, she says it was great to return in a professional capacity.

Mediation as an alternative to court
Tabitha Van Den Berg works as an accredited legal mediator in The Netherlands and helps settle disputes in labour law and conflicts between small and medium sized enterprises. She owns her own business and works as a preferred mediator for the Amsterdam Court. She is a firm believer in mediation as a solution for many disputes and conflicts in all areas of law. Mediation is a collaborative decision-making process, facilitated by a neutral third party, the mediator. It is an alternative to a lengthy and often expensive and insecure process of taking your opponent to trial. Also, attempting mediation before going to court, often allows people to settle and therefore is a way to release some of the workload of the court system, which is challenged in the Netherlands.

Mediation: what is it about?
Mediation is a voluntary process, which asks parties to commit to finding a solution, rather than to sit and wait for someone else to end the dispute for them. Additionally, mediation is a process in which parties sign in advance for strict confidentiality. This will enable parties to explore their dispute and possible solutions more openly, not having to fear the privileged information will be shared with the media or may end up being used against you in a future court case if the mediation does not end with a negotiated result both parties are happy to accept.

Benefits of mediation
Mediation allows for more creative solutions, and will offer parties to solve not only the legal issue, but also discuss matters like the previous expectations of the (business) relationship, future collaboration, damaged reputations (or avoiding further damages) and more. Matters which are often at the hard of a conflict. It’s rarely just about money or a pure legal matter that cause people to fall out. In mediation parties are in charge of all content of the dispute, the mediator is only in charge of creating a setting and offering questions and other interventions that help people understand each other’s position, needs and underlying interests.

Skills versus theory
Tabitha Van Den Berg mentioned, that teaching the master students of the Master International Commercial Law and a selection of bachelor students was a great pleasure. Apart from theory, they explored their views on conflict, the need to know your own personal conflict styles, the role of a lawyer with regards to the position and underlying needs of the client, Harvard Negotiation principles and much more.

Students actively participated in role play games, as skills are best developed in a situation where you are challenged to practice and receive feedback on your application of skills and interventions.