Gujarat National Law University (GNLU), in collaboration with PACT and Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas and Co. is hosting the much-anticipated Mediation Championship India (MCI) from September 8-10. This championship will feature some of the best mediation and negotiation talent from across India which includes over two dozen negotiation teams and a dozen mediators.

Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas and Co., one of India’s premier law firms is acting as the headline sponsors at MCI, 2023. In its first major venture into the mediation world, GNLU has opened up its premises to convene India’s finest gathering of mediation professionals and aspirants. Prof. (Dr.) S. Shanthakumar, Director and Vice-Chancellor at GNLU, says that the university is eager to welcome the youth and experience of India’s mediation community. He also remarked that it is extra special to note that Nisshant Laroria is a GNLU alumnus. To test the knowledge and skills of   India’s top mediation talent, SAMVÄD: Partners, led by Ekta Bahl, will test the talent by giving Conflict Simulations.

MCI 2023 event will also feature Retd. Justice Kurian Joseph, Former Judge of the Supreme Court of India; Retd. Justice Gita Mittal, Former Chief Justice of J&K High Court; Sriram Panchu, Senior Advocate and Expert Mediator; Ratan K Singh, Senior Advocate and International Member, Keating Chambers; Tejas Karia, Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas; Laila Ollapally, co-founder CAMP Arbitration and Mediation Practice and Senior Mediator and other legal luminaries. SAMVAD Partners, led by Ekta Bahl, has taken the responsibility to draft conflict simulations that will test the knowledge and skills of India’s top mediation talent.


DAY 1 | 7th September 2023

6:00 PM– Students arrived at around 6 PM for the registration process. Along with badges and ID Cards, they were also given copies of the book “Mediation Simplified” by Nisshant Laroia and Jonathan Rodrigues, India’s first interactive workbook on mediation. The participants were then introduced to the house rules for the competition.



7:00 PM– The participants were taken through the tournament schedule, including orientation session on the 7th of September, mediation advocacy sessions on the 8th of September and the four rounds scheduled for the 9th of September and were succinctly briefed on what is to be expected out of championship. The participants participate in four rounds with the same conflict stimulation, representing the same parties. However, they are presented with a different set of confidential information every round.

Participants were also briefed on the scoring process unique to this championship. The idea behind the entire process is to reduce the element of subjectivity to the greatest extent possible. In contrast to the regular rating scale of 1-5, the assessors are required to follow a 0/1 scoring system where a participant either scores a 1 on any given criteria/competency point or scores zero. At the end of each round, the championship point is calculated and it determines whether a team loses or wins. In case of a tie in the rankings, the overall score rated out of 20 shall be taken into consideration. At the end of the session, the participants were also surprised at the reveal of a twist in the competition where the top two ranking negotiating teams could use their discretion to pick mediators of their choice for the third round!


8:00 PM- The introductory session concluded with the participants dispersing for dinner, music and an icebreaking session.


DAY 2 | 8th September 2023

9:00 AM– The participants are all geared up for the Mediation Advocacy Sessions scheduled to be held for the day. The First Mediation Advocacy Session was taken by Jatan Rodrigues and focused on developing a mediation strategy. The Second Mediation Advocacy Session was taken by Gokul Narayan and focused on engaging with the Mediator. The Sessions provided insights into building and maintaining relationships as a mediator. Further, the Sessions also pointed out that in contrast to litigation proceedings, there was actually space for emotion in Mediation Sessions. The participants then dispersed for a tea break.


11:00 AM– The participants reconvened for the third and fourth Mediation Advocacy Sessions taken by Jonathan Rodrigues and Ekta Bahl respectively. The speakers gave an idea as to how listening to and communicating with a client works. Speakers emphasized the importance of calmness, mindfulness, and consciousness while advising a client. The speakers also elaborated on how mediation humanizes a problem. While doing this, Jonathan Rodrigues elaborated upon his “three-bucket strategy” wherein a negotiator puts forth three buckets; one with a list of things a negotiator can definitely agree to; second with a list of things a negotiator, under any circumstance cannot agree to; and third, with a list of things that can be compromised upon between the parties.  Additionally, Ekta Bahl also emphasized the roll of a counselor and the importance of confidentiality in the entire process.


1:00 PM- The participants dispersed for lunch.


2:30 PM – The post-lunch events commenced with an insightful session hosted by Nipun K Bhatia on “Building Your Personal Brand and Its Significance.” Attendees gained valuable insights into establishing themselves as distinctive figures in the field of mediation, distinguishing it from the branding of practicing lawyers. The session highlighted the importance of differentiating between followers and genuine connections, emphasizing that personal branding transcends social media. It stressed the need to capture attention and stand out, encouraging attendees to forge authentic connections beyond the digital realm. Authenticity emerged as the central theme.

The participants then dispersed for a short visit to Sabarmati Ashram and Adaalaj step-well.



DAY 3 | 9th September 2023

9:30 AM- Participants have gathered with full enthusiasm for the 3rd round of the Mediation Championship India. There are 13 mediation rooms with teams from all over the country. The assessors are founders, partners, and associates of renowned legal institutes such as CAMP Arbitration and Mediation Practice, SAM & Co., Khaitan & Co., SAMVAD Partners, DUA Associates, etc. The competition aims to promote and build a mediation community that grows together. The rounds have started and the participants have proceeded to the allotted rooms.


11:30 AM- The first in-person rounds concluded at 11:15 PM with Shashwat Ambashta and Garima Thankur securing the first rank. The participants were marked on various criteria such as relationship building, information gathering, dealing with impasse, teamwork, etc. The round was followed by a short break before the commencement of the second in-person rounds.



1:30 PM- The second in-person rounds ended at 1:30 PM with Muskan Mishra and Sharmila Suresh Adyanthaya overtaking the top ranked team, pushing the erstwhile Rank 1 holders to the second position.  Post this round, the participants dispersed for their lunch break. 


3:30 PM- The lunch break was followed by the third and fourth in-person rounds. As per the rules of the championship, the top two negotiating teams could pick mediators of their own choice at the end of the third round. Consequently, the top ranking team at the end of the third team, comprising of Shashwat Ambashta, Garima Thakur and Amaan Alam, Samyuktha Karthikeyan were eligible to pick their mediators for the final rounds. 


6:00 PM- The last round before the finale round kicked off at 4:45 PM and concluded with two teams qualifying for the Finale: 1. Shashwat Ambashta, Garima Thakur; and 2.  Anshul Kumar Sarma Kessav Navaladi, Shankar Ananya Dewan. The teams had championship points 6 and 5 respectively. Among the top 5 featured Amaan Alam, Samyuktha Karthikeyan, Dexter Bruno Colaso, and Gunav Menon. Among the mediators, the top-ranking participants were Akshita Kothari and Akshita Kothari. The participants dispersed for the Gala Dinner organized at Grand Mercure, GIFT City. 


DAY 4 | 10th September 2023

9:30 AM- Tensions are running high as the championship draws to an end with preparations for the grand finale round, which would be an open round. The finale is scheduled to be held in Vitaan II, GNLU Gandhinagar, with the assessor panel graced by Retd. Justice Gita Mittal, Former Chief Justice of J&K High Court; Laila Ollapally, Mediator & Founder, CAMP Bangalore; A J Jawad, Mediator and Trainer; Tejas Karia, Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas; Chitra Narayan, Mediator and Co-founder, FCDR; and Sriram Panchu, Senior Advocate and Mediator. The rounds shall also witness the audience voting on the contingency of the teams coming to a tie.


10:30 AM– Upon the arrival of the esteemed panel, the rounds have commenced. This finale would be a 70-minute round with the conflict Simulation pertaining to an “Exit Plan” between an investment company and Clean World Investments.



1:00 PM- The rounds ended at around 12:30 with feedback. This was followed by Mediation !mPACT Caucus wherein the assessors shared their experiences. Laila Ollapally emphasized upon the importance of emotions. Her joint mediation sessions gave her an idea as to how authenticity, discipline, and emotions give an opportunity to know or understand unmet needs. A J Jawad spoke on “omni-partiality” and the impact of the human element of emotion on conflict and how an apology had the potential to change anything. Chitra Narayan shared her views on custody disputes, the differences between mediation and law, and about how mediation understands emotions. Tejas Karia emphasized the importance of time, emotions, actions, listening, language, approach, and mediation style to understand each other’s conflict. Lastly, Retd. Justice Gita Mittal elaborated upon how mediation is a careful process and essentially a way of life. The participants then dispersed for lunch.


3:30 PM- Eager to find out the results, the participants gathered in the Orientation Hall for the Valedictory Ceremony. The Hall was filled with excitement and nervousness. The ceremony commenced with Jonathan Rodrigues delivering a vote of thanks to GNLU and its Director, Prof. Shanthakumar, for hosting the Mediation Championship, India 2023. The audience also observed one minute silence as a tribute to Senior Advocate and Mediator Niranjan Bhatt for outstanding achievement as a mediator and an inspiration to the mediation community. The ceremony proceeded with honoring other dignitaries with various awards. Advocate-Mediator Sadhana Ramachandran was awarded the National Impact Award for a Lifetime of Inspiration to Mediation,  Retd. Justice Gita Mittal was awarded the National Impact Award for Social Awareness in Mediation, Ms Laila Ollapally was awarded the National Impact Award for Policy and Standards in Mediation, Retd. Justice Kurian Joseph was awarded the National Impact Award in Mediation Advancement, Advocate AJ Jawad was awarded the National Impact Award for Training and Education in Mediation, Mr. Tejas Karia was awarded the National Impact Award in Mediation Advocacy and Ms. Chitra Narayan was awarded the National Impact Award for Research and Literature in Mediation.


5:00 PM- The Mediation Championship India 2023 ultimately concluded with the announcement of winners. For the category of Mediators, Akshita Kothari from Himachal Pradesh National Law University, Shimla bagged the first position, followed by Tanushree Gupta at the second position. For the category of Negotiators, the team of Anshul Kumar, Kessav Navaladi Shankar and Ananya Dewan bagged the first position, followed by the team of Shashwat Ambashta and Garima Thakur at the second position. The Hall was filled with hoots and cheers for the winners.

With this, the Mediation Championship 2023 comes to an end. See you all next year!

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