by Tasman Fleming, Victorian Bar

I would like to begin by acknowledging the Woi Wurrung Wurunjeri people of the Kulin Nation, the traditional owners of the land including earth, water and sky, on which I live and work and pay my respects to the elders past present and emerging, I extend that to elders of first nations who may be present.

Your Honour, Distinguished guests, competitors and competition judges and mediators. On behalf of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee of the Victorian Bar, congratulations to the winning team of the 2023 ICC-ADC Asia Pacific Commercial Mediation Competition, and the  Henry Jolson Prize. Congratulations also to the runners up.

As the winning team you will receive a certificate and cash prize from the Victorian Bar.

Since 2017, the Victorian Bar has awarded the Henry Jolson Prize as recognition of the outstanding performance of each team member involved.

Henry was called to the bar in 1973 and took silk in 1991, his bar roll number was 1075. He was a pioneer of mediation in the legal profession in Victoria from the mid-eighties, which has seen mediation become an essential part of the Victorian justice system and a compulsory step in some instances. I note my bar role number is 4502, my grandfathers around 300 I think.

Henry was one of Australia’s most distinguished alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practitioners. He served on the Victorian Bar’s ADR committee for a record number of years and was a foundation member of the Law Council of Australia’s ADR committee.

He received an OAM in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for service to the law, particularly in the area of ADR, to professional associations, and to the community.

In 2012 Foleys List recorded and interview with Henry, I would like to read to you a portion of this interview.

The mediation usually starts with the parties and their lawyers not willing to give anything away, with fixed positions, and aggressive attitudes. Gradually, as the day unfolds, they open up, and you get to a meaningful discussion. I never give up because I am no longer surprised by a sudden change in mood or direction by just one sentence or comment that can open the door to a resolution. I found that human behaviour quite stimulating.

Negotiating is an important skill in various aspects of life, from personal relationships to professional settings. Negotiation is a process of reaching agreements, resolving conflicts, and finding acceptable solutions.

Mediation goes beyond negotiation, it is a philosophy that encapsulates the values of empathy, respect, and open communication. It invites us to listen actively, to comprehend different perspectives, and to seek solutions that are mutually beneficial. It is through this process that we discover that even the most entrenched conflicts can be unravelled, paving the way for resolution and growth.

I was very impressed throughout the competition, it was clear to me all participants had prepared their matters well and used their best endeavours to listen, communicate clearly and come to a resolution.

I would again like to congratulate the winners of the Henry Jolson Price and all participants in the competition. I should note that this speech was prepared by Temple Saville Barrister and member of the ADR Committee who was not able to be here tonight I speak on her behalf and behalf of the ADR Committee. On behalf of the Victorian Bar I wish you well for your bright futures ahead.