On 10-11 May 2018, a conference “Mediation as a Primary Option for Commercial Dispute Resolution” was organized in Belgrade. The conference was one of the final activities within the “Commercial Mediation in Serbia” Project, implemented by European Centre for Dispute Resolution – ECDR (Slovenia), ADR Centre (Italy), ADR Group (UK), and Partners for Democratic Change Serbia (Partners Serbia), in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (CCIS), and Judicial Academy, supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and UK Investment Climate and Governance Fund. The goal of the Project was to improve the use of mediation in commercial disputes in Serbia by improving capacities of mediation service providers, as well as to increase awareness of potential beneficiaries (companies, citizens) about the benefits and advantages of mediation in dispute resolution. The two-year Project offered the business community with a possibility of an alternative resolution of commercial disputes through mediation, as a more efficient process, contributing to economic development and the rule of law in Serbia.
Over the two days, the Conference was attended by over 130 mediators, , judges, lawyers, business people and representatives of regional chambers of commerce, including several commercial, basic and higher court presidents. On the first day, the participants were welcomed by Blazo Nedic, from Partners for Democratic Change Serbia and president of the Serbian National Association of Mediators (NUMS). Opening remarks was delivered by representatives of Ministry of Justice of Republic of Serbia, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia, the Supreme Court of Cassation of Serbia, Commercial Court of Appeal in Belgrade, Judicial Academy, as well as United Kingdom ambassador to Serbia and a representative of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for Serbia (EBRD).
The keynote address of the first day was given by Karl Hennessee, VP& Head of Litigation, Airbus Group, who reflected on the informality, benefits and success rate of mediation procedure.
Ales Zalar, the Project Team Leader and former Minister of Justice of Republic of Slovenia, spoke about resolving disputes, establishing mediation centres and relevant legal framework, as well as professional development of mediators.
This served as a good introduction for the ceremony of signing of the Mediation Pledge by the representative of CCIS, Nermina Ljubovic, aiming to improve the business environment and incentives for attracting foreign investments.
The second session was devoted to the role of lawyers in mediation. . The speakers were Katarina Kresal, the President of the ECDR, Masa Kociper, practicing lawyer and Director of the Mediation Center at the Bar Association of Slovenia, and Jasmina Milutinovic, the Vice-president of the Bar Association of Serbia.
Felicitas Paller, Judge of the Vienna Commercial Court and mediator, reflected on the the Austrian judicial and court practice in mediation, while analysing the Civil Law on Mediation from 2004.
Ivana Pavlovic, a judge of Commercial Court of Appeal in Belgrade, citing the outcomes that are desirable in a court-annexed mediation, spoke about the important role of the court in promoting this process of alternative dispute resolution.
Graham Ross, member of UK Civil Justice Council ODR Advisory Group, delivered a presentation about on-line conflict resolution, in line with rising technologies and market needs.
Ivana Nincic, consultant on MDTF-JSS project, Ministry of Justice of Serbia, analyzed how regulatory framework could support the quality of mediation.
Finally, Blazo Nedic closed the Conference by speaking about the different aspects of evaluative and facilitative mediation, including the “broad” and “narrow” approach of mediators as described in the “Riskin Grid” typology of mediation styles and approaches to conflict resolution.
This two-day Conference on commercial mediation for business people, lawyers, judges and mediators aimed at raising public and professional awareness on mediation benefits.