Collaboration in Krakow


Krakow: Picture courtesy UIA

The World Forum of Mediation Centres was created in 2001 by the Mediation and Conflict Prevention Council of the Union Internationale des Avocats.

It brings together commercial mediation practitioners and representatives of ADR Centres from around the world (including the Law Society of New South Wales) via an active program of collaboration with its constituents.

With my Australian colleagues, I was delighted to receive an invitation to present various sessions over the two days of the 23rd Forum, which has just concluded in Krakow, Poland.

Jagiellonian University, located in the beautiful city of Krakow, was the perfect setting for the forum. The picturesque setting, with blankets of snow covering the landscape, made the sub-zero temperatures bearable!

My fellow pracademics, Emma-May Litchfield and Danielle Hutchinson, joined me in delivering an interactive session on The Power of the Narrative in Mediation. Our session reviewed the significant research into narrative structure and power found in such diverse fields as education, semiotics, neuroscience and economics and reflected on the limited contribution in the field of ADR.

Using a case study drawn from real life, participants investigated and debated what steps they would take as mediators to identify the narratives which had led the parties to a seemingly impossible impasse; then to consider how the parties could be encouraged to develop new narratives which might meet their interests and create opportunities for resolution.

Emma-May and Danielle then drew links between the case study and findings from The Singapore Report, the analysis of the inaugural Global Pound Conference (GPC) event last March. They explained the different narratives of inexperienced and ‘dispute-savvy’ disputants and the tools the GPC research offers to mediators as they build repertoire.

Alan Limbury, our other Australian representative, was his usual provocative self in his session on Arb-Med-Arb with the same neutral. Other panellists explained hybrid processes generally and what their future role might be. Furious debate, laced with scepticism and concerns about ethics and procedural fairness, kept us entertained and engaged. The jury is still out and we may need a mediator to sort out the panellists’ differences!

There were many other important topics including the benefits of teaching Greek healthcare practitioners how to apologise effectively for medical errors; what the future looks like for Online Dispute Resolution (ODR); and in-house programs to reduce staff conflict.

The Forum is a great opportunity to share international developments and initiatives and to collaborate with colleagues whose professional practices vary widely.

The social calendar was challenging too and included a tour of the famous Krakow salt mine, an UNESCO World Heritage site. Descending more than 300 steps to dine 110 metres below ground was a chilly but unforgettable experience.

The program and most of the papers are available at along with news of the next forum in Singapore in October 2017.

This entry was posted in Dispute resolution by Dr Rosemary Howell. Bookmark the permalink.

About Dr Rosemary Howell

I am a Professorial Fellow at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, delivering dispute resolution programs to undergraduate and postgraduate students. My company, Strategic Action, provides mediation, facilitation, coaching and bespoke training to business and government.

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