Law students from universities across England recently competed in the Negotiation Competition sponsored by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution. One of the regional stages was held at the University of Leicester on 14th February 2015.

The purpose of the competition is to allow students to experience a structured negotiation which attempts to reach a settlement in a legal dispute. Before the competition the students are given details of a fictitious dispute together with their client’s instructions which they then research and prepare to negotiate. During the negotiation, the students are assessed for key skills including teamwork, knowledge and understanding of their client’s brief and concession management. High marks are given to those students able to achieve a conciliatory yet favourable outcome for their client.

Overall, I was particularly impressed by the students’ detailed planning and the creative solutions they offered to the problems faced. I would like to offer my congratulations on behalf of BHW Solicitors to the teams from the University of Leicester, University of Northumbria and University of Sheffield Hallam who progressed to the national final of the competition.

Many legal disputes are resolved outside of litigation. Alternative dispute resolution is actively encouraged and, if a matter ends up in court, genuine attempts to resolve beforehand can be taken into account in an award of costs. Negotiation skills play an important part in resolving legal disputes and therefore the competition provided an opportunity for students to gain valuable feedback from professionals and academics on an important skill.

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