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Opening Ceremony of the 2007 International Negotiation Competition for Law Students


Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs, Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee,Chair of the International Negotiation Competition, Professor Larry Teply,Participants of the International Negotiation Competition for Law Students,Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen, Good Evening.

It is my pleasure to welcome all of you to the 2007 International Negotiation Competition for Law Students. And to those of you who are in Singapore for the first time, I would like to extend an especially warm welcome.

The International Negotiation Competition for Law Students, otherwise known as INC, is now in its tenth year. The INC is a law student competition designed to foster the skills of negotiation in the next generation of lawyers.This is the first time that the INC is held in an Asian country and the Singapore Mediation Centre is proud to host this competition. As you are probably aware, SMC is hosting INC amidst SMC’s 10th Anniversary celebrations.

The countries represented at the inaugural INC were Australia, Canada,England, and the United States. Since then, the competition has become truly global with teams from North and Central America, Europe, Asia and Oceania. This year, we have representatives from Australia, Canada,Denmark, England & Wales, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Japan, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, and the United States. I commend the organising committee for building up the competition’s reputation and attracting participants from such diverse places.

From my years of practice, I well know the importance of negotiation skills in helping clients achieve their objectives. In fact, I believe that one of the basic skills required of any lawyer is the ability to negotiate effectively. Whether it is a corporate lawyer trying to close a multi-million dollar contract or a dispute resolution specialist trying to settle a civil suit, good negotiation skills are critical. INC provides a valuable platform for future lawyers to become aware of and experience the challenges of negotiations. Furthermore, in this increasingly connected world, INC gives participants the opportunity to engage in international negotiations and the challenges of navigating crosscultural communication.

In its role as educator and promoter, SMC has been active in conducting courses for institutions of tertiary education, notably the Singapore Management University, in addition to training local and overseas
individuals and organisations in mediation and conflict resolution. Hosting INC is part of SMC's efforts as an educator and promoter of amicable dispute resolution methods. It is one of our aims to educate future lawyers about the importance of interest-based negotiation skills in amicable conflict resolution. After all, negotiation is at the heart of the mediation process. Hence the other moniker for 'mediation' - facilitated negotiations.

We hope that through such efforts, more individuals and organisations will realise the benefit of resolving conflict through negotiation and mediation before resorting to adjudicatory dispute resolution mechanisms. At SMC, we believe in the efficacy and efficiency of mediation. Of the 1,300 disputes that were mediated at SMC, 75% were resolved and more than 90% of those resolved were settled within a day. Such successes are not only achieved through well-trained and qualified mediators, but also informed lawyers who influence their clients in the choice of dispute resolution methods and negotiate effectively on their behalf.

In closing I would like to quote a famous one time lawyer, one Abraham Lincoln who advised as follows: And I quote, “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbours to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.” Unquote. Let us, as lawyers, take a leaf from this famous man's book.

I wish all participants an enjoyable experience in the competition and a memorable stay in Singapore.

Thank you.