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Negotiate this – Cardiff duo take on national competition final

10 June 2022

Dan Starkey and Jess Nyabwire with Professor Julie Price
Dan Starkey and Jess Nyabwire with Professor Julie Price

Two Cardiff Law students put their skills to the test at this year’s final of the National Negotiation Competition, sponsored by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR).

Graduate Diploma in Law student Dan Starkey and LLM student Jess Nyabwire, excelled in the regional final and, as a result, were invited to compete in the national final which took place at the CEDR offices in London on 2 April 2022.

The annual competition sees students from across the UK battling through rounds designed to test their negotiation skills. The competition gives participants the opportunity to work on real life scenarios where collaborative-based discussions take place and a confident awareness of wider interests, creative options, and persuasion techniques are required.

This year’s tournament was designed in a way which encouraged participants to use practical skills rather than focussing on applying the law which meant that scenarios weren’t only viewed through a ‘legal’ lens.  This year’s negotiations included:

  • How best to crew an 18th century ship being used by a tea company for a global promotional trip.
  • How to get a TV production company to apologise and pay damages on behalf of a company whose product was seen to cause the death of a major character on a popular TV show.
  • Resolution of a dispute over the intellectual property rights of a game changing product, invented during a task on a business reality TV show.
  • Representation of a Formula 1 team signing a new driver for the upcoming season following the termination of the contract of one of their two original drivers at short notice.
  • The father of a family had passed away leaving behind his second wife and children from his first marriage with colossal debt, forcing them to make changes to their expensive lifestyles and find a way to live amicably.

Although varied, these scenarios incorporated aspects of contract, media law, wills and estate disputes and employment law and saw Dan and Jess compete with peers from Nottingham Trent University, Edge Hill University and Northumbria University. At the end of the competitive day, students from the University of Exeter were crowned this year’s champions. The highest placed Welsh university was Swansea.

Speaking about his experience, Dan explained, “I’ve learned that negotiation is a lot like an iceberg: there is information known to others such as the parties’ claims, their demands, suggested solutions, but simultaneously there are the unknowns below the surface such as  emotions, history, risks, hopes, or any commercial drivers, etc. It is up to the parties negotiating to better understand these unseen aspects before coming to a solution that works best for all.”

Jess added, “Participating in this competition has helped me learn soft skills that are poignant to my career. I am very grateful to Julie Price and Cardiff University for creating such great opportunities for students like myself.”

Law students at the School of Law and Politics are able to develop a range of skills via extracurricular activities which focus on the development of practical competences including negotiation and client interviewing.

Find out more about the National Negotiation Competition on the CEDR website.

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