Ms. Priyadarshini Natarajan is currently working as an independent practitioner before the Madras High Court. Prior to starting her Independent practice, she was employed with HSB Partners, Chennai as a principal associate of the firm and heads its General Corporate Commercial, Mergers & Acquisitions & General Corporate Litigation.

This interview has been taken by Supriyo Ranjan Mahapatra, Student Ambassador of Eastern Book Company and SCC online.

1. How was your experience while judging the 1 st National Med-Arb Competition, 2019 organised by the Tamil Nadu National Law University, Trichy?

It was indeed a good experience. The hospitality of the college and the students stands out!

2. According to your opinion, whether the problem drafted by the organizing committee was unique and different as compared to other Alternative Dispute Resolution Competitions organized by various universities across India?

The problem was unique, yes. Attempting to have something to mediate and arbitrate, is definitely a good thought and gave the students to think from various angles and encourages budding lawyers to think and feel the alternative dispute resolution.

3. Do you think the parties should have two-tier dispute resolution clauses such as Mediation and Arbitration in commercial contracts instead of single tier dispute resolution clauses?
As a matter of fact, I do think so. While mediation and arbitration can be entered into by parties even at a later point, having something in the contract would strongly encourage parties to come together to explore it at a time where conflicts are abode.

4. Do you think that arbitration and Mediation are the future of dispute resolution in India?
It is already in vogue in India and yes, it would become more rampant with a bit of awareness, professionalism and maybe, tact.

5. What would you be your advice to the participants of the National Med-Arb Competition?
They did a fantastic job and I am sure the future participants would only learn from this and get better. One feedback would be that I noticed a few students taking this as a ‘role play’ and it ended up affecting their performance. As a team while they prepared and tried to present it quite well, the role of a ‘client’ is not to be subservient and a role of arbitrator does not mean they have to take a condescending tone. It is really about being present there and exploring what best can be done to resolve the disputes.

6. Would you like to give any suggestions to the organizing committee?
Hats off to the organizing committee for being innovative with the problem, the scoring, the allocation of teams into arbitrator etc.

The scoring was quite unique but caused a bit of confusion as to which team was getting evaluated. Though this is not the organizing committee’s fault maybe, some of the judges did not follow that the scoring was of individuals though they came from the same college/ university. While the scoring was indeed explained, some more clarity can be given to judges so that questions / interruptions during the session can be avoided.

The problem drafted gave a lot of scope for students to immerse into various laws. However, it did have issues which are not arbitrable and had one too many twists, which caused a bit of confusion. Maybe, that can be minimized in the future and it can be drafted as arbitration problem and eventually any issue can be mediated.

7. Do you look forward to coming again to Judge the next edition of National Med-Arb Competition?
Sure, I do look forward to coming again. Would love to be playing a role in the student community!

Supriyo Ranjan Mahapatra is pursuing law from TNNLU. He has a keen interest in the subjects of Arbitration, Competition Laws, and Insolvency. He is an avid mooter and has participated in various international moots.

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