Book Review: Edited by Prof Silvana Dalla Bonta
Le parti in mediazione: strumenti e tecniche. Dall’esperienza pratica alla costruzione di un metodo.
I have had the pleasure of collaborating with the Faculty at the University of Law in Trento and in particular the innovative Conflict Managers of Tomorrow Project, pioneered by Prof. Silvana Dalla Bonta. As part of this collaboration I have had the pleasure to read this publication. It is written in both Italian and English as it is the result of the project’s long experience in training and coaching students in both languages.
It is a very thorough, detailed and clear analysis of conflict resolution, particularly aimed at students attending mediation competitions. It should be essential reading for any team thinking or preparing to compete. It actually should have a broader audience and has much to inform anyone involved in conflict analysis and dispute resolution, whether lawyers, mediators or parties in dispute.
The publication adopts a practical approach, with contributions from both academics and practitioners. Great store is placed on preparation, both on the part of the lawyers and the parties. This is the case for any real- life mediation. As an author of a role play case study for the ICC used in a semi-final at the competition I found the incisive advice as to how a student should read, analyse, dissect and work through a role play invaluable for anyone preparing for a mediation competition, or indeed planning to engage in mediation. Advice on how to engage with the mediator is illuminating – many mediation advocates would be well served to read this. The advice is given in the context of the ICC competition where parties are encouraged to remain in a plenary session and opportunities for caucuses are limited by the rules. This makes it more pertinent to those reading from jurisdictions where joint sessions are the norm (such as Germany) rather than say the UK and US where for commercial mediations private caucuses are very prevalent.
In addition to the varied topics covered there are comprehensive bibliographies at the end of each chapter which provide excellent springboards for those wanting to research further. The authors have consulted many of the great works on the subject across the globe in a variety of languages and incorporated concepts from different jurisdictions. This makes the work truly international.
Aspects of cross -cultural communication and psychology are also considered and dealt with sensitively and from a global rather than Italian perspective. A useful addition if the publication were to go to a second edition would be a full chapter dedicated to the psychology of conflict, as this forms an important part in negotiation and mediation. A further future addition would be a chapter on online mediation, given that the 16th competition held in 2021 was entirely online. But, of course, it takes time for publications to keep up to date with changes to practice due to world events such as a pandemic.
The inclusion of a real- life experience from a participant at the ICC Mediation competition is invaluable and encouraging. In common with most skills training, the importance of practice and having a “can do” attitude is emphasised. As a judge myself at the competition, I was heartened to read how valuable the feedback from the judges to the teams was and how much the participant felt they improved during the competition as a result of this and the “hands on” practice they gained.
As the old Chinese proverb says, ‘Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.’ The practical approach to teaching conflict resolution at the University of Trento is exemplified by its enthusiasm for its students to participate in mediation competitions. Further the creation of this excellent publication that serves as a textbook to assist those students in this experience is laudable. Prof Silvana Dalla Bonta and her colleagues are doing excellent work in developing Conflict Managers of Tomorrow, people we are likely to need increasingly, and who cannot be replaced by AI and the many other technological developments we are seeing in the world.
Congratulations to the team from the Faculty of Law, University of Trento, Italy, for winning the Special Award for Best Creative Solution Generation at the 16th ICC Mediation Competition in February 2021.
Rebecca Attree M.A. (Cantab) International Mediator and Solicitor, London 2021. Visiting Lecturer at faculty of Law, University of Trennto, Italy.
 Translated loosely as “The parties in mediation: instruments and techniques. From practical experience to the construction of a methodology.”
ICC International Mediation training Role Plays 2015