AUA LL.M. Program Mediation and Arbitration Clinic Established to Improve Armenian Judicial System

Drafted by Maria Abrahamyan, Member of the AUA LL.M. Program Mediation and Arbitration Clinic, contributed by all members of the Clinic

Having the goal to improve the national legal system and establish new effective methods of dispute resolution, the program on legal and judicial reforms of the Republic of Armenia for 2012-2016 anticipates a series of activities, among which the development of “alternative means” to the court, in particular mediation and arbitration, is highlighted.

One of the pioneers of the ADR movement in Armenia is ADR Partners LLC, the first Armenian mediation firm, which, in cooperation with the American University of Armenia Legal Resource Center (AUA LRC) established the AUA LL.M. Program Mediation and Arbitration Clinic. As a result of this cooperation, in Fall 2012 AUA professor Dr. Mushegh Manukyan launched a formal academic one-credit course on mediation for AUA law, political science and international affairs, and non-degree students. The AUA LL.M. Program Mediation and Arbitration Clinic is now actively involved in organizing trainings, conferences, and seminars on ADR, preparing relevant materials and research in policy-making issues and legislative recommendations in the field of ADR.

The working team of the Clinic is composed of 3 generations of AUA Law Department alumni (2011, 2012 and 2013). Under the supervision of the qualified arbitrator and mediator Dr. Manukyan, the working team members – Karine Poghosyan, Mariam Mkrtichyan and Nona Stepanyan, dedicated a significant amount of time for the fruition of the idea to develop a proper dispute resolution mechanism in Armenia. Later, several new participants volunteered to join the working team – Hovhanness Hovakimyan, Heghine Badalyan, Maria Abrahamyan (non-active) and Mary Galstyan (offline member).

The AUA LL.M. Program Mediation and Arbitration Clinic has organized numerous events. First, participants received a short training by Dr. Manukyan on the basic principles of mediation and techniques of a mediator, practiced their skills and opening speeches with video recording, and analyzed current legislation on arbitration and conciliation in Armenia. These activities led to more comprehensive activities.

A truly remarkable event was the first Armenian Mock Arbitration Competition, dedicated to international commercial arbitration held in May 2013. It is designed for undergraduate and postgraduate law students from all universities of Armenia (both Yerevan and the regions). Five universities and six teams participated in the two-day program. Throughout tough battles among the teams, the winner was the Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University team. Many local and international companies supported the event with their generous contribution for the winners. Currently, the team is working on preparations for the 2014 Competition, which will be held March 22-23, 2014.

In early September 2013, another ADR event was organized by the AUA LL.M. Program Mediation and Arbitration Clinic, in cooperation with the Republic of Armenia’s Ministry of Justice (MOJ). Many ADR practitioners from various law firms, arbitration courts, judges, arbitrators and state officials were invited to the event, who shared their thoughts about the current ADR development program of the MOJ.

Recently participants Heghine, Karine and Mariam, under the supervision of international arbitrator Dr. Aida Avanessian, ADR Partners arbitrator and mediator, won a policy fellowship from “Open Society Foundations Armenia” by virtue of the skills and knowledge gained at AUA, the Clinic, and their commitment to accomplishing ADR projects. The research aims to suggest an alternative policy in the field of judicial reform and to assist the existing Financial Arbitration Institution established by the Union of Banks of Armenia to improve their system and win consumers trust toward the arbitration. The project will last about six months, followed by a seminar with all stakeholders.

In December 2013, the AUA LL.M. Program Mediation and Arbitration Clinic organized a free two-hour master class for judges’ assistants in cooperation with the Republic of Armenia Judicial Department, where Dr. Manukyan and Dr. Aida Avanessian shared their thoughts on mediation and arbitration and provided some directions how ADR will be developed in Armenia very soon.

Currently the AUA LL.M. Program Mediation and Arbitration Clinic is comprised of three active members—Heghine, Mariam, and Karine—and two other members—Maria and Mary, who occasionally participate in projects.

We would like to hear from you if you have any question– adr@aua.am.

FORMER AND CURRENT PARTICIPANTS

HEGHINE BADALYAN (2013-current) earned her LL.M at AUA in 2013. She is the assistant to the Deputy General Prosecutor of the Republic of Armenia. Currently she is involved in research on arbitration, as well as the organization of the Second Mock Arbitration. As Heghine states, AUA has made an enormous change in her professional life. “I see the AUA LL.M. Program Mediation and Arbitration Clinic as a vehicle for scrutinizing interrelation of various rules on international commercial arbitration and implementing the best practice in Armenian arbitration reality.”

HOVHANNES HOVAKIMYAN (2013) joined the Clinic in March 2013 and greatly assisted in the organization of the 2013 Mock Arbitration. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from the Law Department of Yerevan State University (2012). In 2013 he entered the Law Department of the American University of Armenia and is currently doing his LL.M. Hovhannes currently works at the “High Voltage Electric Networks” CJSC as a leading legal advisor.

KARINE POGHOSYAN (2012-current) joined the Clinic in early 2012 and currently assists in the preparation of relevant materials on mediation and research. Karine obtained the necessary qualifications in law-knowledge, legal competencies, and skills from Yerevan State University (Bachelor of Jurisprudence, 2010) and AUA (LL.M, 2012). The scope of her interests includes but is not limited to commercial law, business negotiations, and ADR.

MARIA ABRAHAMYAN (2013-current, offline member)

Maria joined the Clinic recently. She has been actively involved in preparing a research project on mediation, as well as the preparation of this material on the Clinic. “High costs of judicial procedures and lack of trust in judicial systems shall be supplemented by the mediation and arbitration in Armenia, which we all need now – that’s why I am here.”

MARIAM MKRTICHYAN (2012-current)

Mariam has been part of the Clinic since its commencement. She has actively participated in different projects accomplished within the Clinic. It is particularly worth mentioning her substantial contribution to the material and procedural aspects of the organization of the Mock Arbitration in 2013, as well as in all activities of the organizational matters. She is involved in conducting research on mediation and arbitration. Mariam earned her LL.B from the Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University in 2010 and earned her LL.M from AUA in 2013. She is currently working at Hovhannisyan Legal LLC as a legal consultant.

MARY GALSTYAN (2013-current, offline member) received her LL.M degree at AUA in 2012. She joined the Clinic recently with interest in researching opportunities on mediation and the further development of ADR in Armenia. She is actively engaged in studies and projects dealing with juvenile offenders and is seeking possible opportunities to apply mediation in civil procedures with the engagement of children and minors.

NONA STEPANYAN (2012) had been with the Clinic since its launch. Understanding the importance of the goals the Clinic, Nona made efforts towards to the realization of those goals. She was actively involved in research and surveys and had her contribution in the success of the first Mock Arbitration Competition. Her participation in the Clinic motivated Nona to conduct further research and write her LL.M Master’s thesis on the topic of the implementation of mediation in Armenian civil procedure.

 

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