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Law students win online

9 June 2004

Law students win online

Two teams from Victoria University's Law School have been successful in an international competition organised by the University of Massachusetts' Centre for Information Technology and Dispute Resolution.

The third annual eNegotiation tournament event, the International Competition in Online Dispute Resolution (ICODR), virtually brought together competitors from 21 countries around the world to test their skills in arbitration and mediation.

Victoria University's Elizabeth Wiessing and Sue-Anne Lee, coached by Victoria law lecturer Ian Macduff, were judged most effective mediators in Round 1 (the competition was divided into two segments, Round 1 and Round 2) of the Mediation Competition, ahead of law students from UC Hastings School of Law, the University of Paris, the University of Toledo, the National University of Singapore, and Queen Mary University of London.

Sarah Arnold of Victoria, also coached by Ian Macduff, was judged second most effective arbitral tribunal in the Arbitration Competition (which was won by New York's Cardozo Law School).

In the Mediation competition, Ms Wiessing and Ms Lee worked on a dispute between a building owner and an architect. The building owner was threatening to sue the architect over design faults that caused a flood in the building and construction problems in the bathrooms. When the contractor was declared bankrupt, the property owner threatened to sue the architect to recover his costs.

"The most important thing was that both parties wanted to protect each other's reputations," said Ms Wiessing. "It is important in mediation to be able to spot key issues and to sense the mood of the different parties. If one is not happy with something you have to go back and fix it up before you can move on.

"Working on line was a challenge because unlike a face to face meeting you can't always judge the nuances of the situation."

In the end, the architect was engaged to fix up the problems. He agreed to find another contractor to do the work and to bear its cost.

"There were a lot of fraught points, but I think both parties realised that mediation would save them a lot of time, effort and money."


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