This competition provides an opportunity for students to try their hand at what is fast becoming the most popular means of dispute resolution available to lawyers. It is, on the whole, an exercise in diplomacy, rewarding not those who employ autocratic means of achieving the best possible outcome, but those who are most sensitive to the wishes of the party they are representing.
Teams are to consist of two students of any year level eligible to compete. In the interests of professionalism, students are expected to don corporate attire when competing.
Prior to the Negotiation:
Teams will, one week prior to the negotiation taking place, receive two pieces of memoranda. The first of these, given in identical form to both sides, will be a statement of general facts offering a broad insight into the starting position of each party to the dispute. The second will be a set of confidential facts unique to each party; these will take the form of specific instructions from the client, detailing the parameters within which he/she is willing to negotiate and any compromises or concessions he/she is prepared to make.
A maximum of 50 minutes is allowed for each negotiation; there is no restriction as to how much each team or member of a team must contribute to discussions. At the conclusion of the negotiation, both teams will each be permitted 10 minutes in which to debrief with the judge(s).
A Basic Structure:
A negotiation does not have a set structure. The course it takes will depend entirely upon the teams involved, the interests they are trying to protect and, above all, the strategy they choose to adopt. The skill of negotiators is in their ability to adapt to a given situation.
As a general rule:
- Competitors will begin by establishing ground rules on matters such as confidentiality and the prioritisation of issues to be discussed. Again, this is subject to change.
- At any point during the proceedings themselves, parties may agree to separate for a five-minute break; this time may be shortened at the discretion of both teams.
- When all relevant matters have been addressed, parties will often reiterate, for the sake of certainty, any agreements that have been reached or, if the situation so holds, any contentions which still exist and further meetings which might be warranted.
- The debrief will take place in private; at the conclusion of the negotiation, one team will be asked to leave the room while the other spends its allocated 10 minutes with the judge(s). There questioning will be based on two questions which teams will be asked to reflect on:
- Given the same situation again, what would you do the same, and what improvements would you make?
- Taking into account the outcome reached, how effective was your strategy?
Teams will be evaluated on a broad range of criteria, including their preparedness, strategic flexibility, teamwork, the overall outcome of the session and the reflection, among other things. For further information in this regard, students should refer to the criteria form which will be sent to competitors after their application to compete.