Scientific Conference held on the 19th of June, 2014 on the occasion of release of the Scientific Textbook written by Mr. Spyros Antonelos and Mrs. Eleni Plessa

On Thursday, June 19th, 2014, a conference on “Mediation and Out-of-Court Dispute Resolution” took place with great success in the “Antonis Tritsis” Lecture Hall, in the Cultural Center of the Municipality of Athens. The conference was held on the occasion of the scientific textbook release titled “Mediation in Civil and Commercial Cases – International Experience and Greek Implementation”, authors of which are the Attorneys-at-Law – Mediators-Mediators Trainers, Spyros Antonelos and Eleni Plessa.

i. Co-organizing Bodies and Conference Co-ordination

 The conference was co-organized by the Greek Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights, the Legal Publications company “Sakkoulas SA” and the Civil- non-Profit company “RESOLVE”. Mr. Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice Transparency and Human Rights Nikolas Kanellopoulos, served as the Moderator of the Conference’s panel.

Several notable speakers from the Legal profession and the Business world contributed to the Conference’s fruitful discussions on mediation and out-of-court dispute resolution.

ii. A warm audience response and indicative noteworthy attendees:

A multitude of people ranging from distinguished representatives of the Legal profession (lawyers and members of the judiciary) and the Business world to supporters of Mediation, graced the conference with their presence.

Attendees, among others, were:

Mr. Athanasios Rantos Vice President of the Council of State, Mr. Vasilios Rigas Honorable Supreme Court Judge and President of the Greek Proceduralists Association, Mrs Zoi Dimopoulou President of Appeals Court Judge and Judicial Mediator of the Athens Court of Appeal, Mrs Ioanna Stratsiani Appeals Court Judge and Ex Judicial Mediator of the Athens Court of First Instance, Professor Lampros Kotsiris President of the Mediators Accreditation Committee, Professor Pinelopi Agallopoulou, Professor of the University of Piraeus Eleni Nina – Pazarzi, Mr. Panagis Kapatos President of the Kefallinias Bar Association, Mr. Michail Kalatzopoulos Member of the Athens Bar Association Board, Mr. Nikos Flamourakis President of the Mediation Commission of the Heraklion Bar Association and Member of the Heraklion Bar Association Board, Mr. Lefteris Rantos Member of the Athens Bar Association Board and Attorney-at-Law, Mr. Giorgos Kotsiras Attorney at law and ex – President of EANDA, Mrs. Katerina Fragkaki Board Member of the Municipality of Amarousion and Legal Advisor of the Athens Medical Association, Mrs. Despina Stiropoulou Member of the Mediators Accreditation Commitee, Attorney-at-Law, Mediator

iii. Speakers and key note speakers

The Conference was opened with a short welcome given by the Editor of the textbook Mr. Yiannis Papagrigorakis, on behalf of “Sakkoulas S.A. Publications”. Mr. Papagrigorakis pointed out the high intellectual value of the textbook, which he attributed to the authors’ exceptional theoretical knowledge as well as practical professional experience on the subject of Mediation.

Following, the authors, Spyros Antonelos and Eleni Plessa welcomed the audience and expressed their gratitude for the great turnout of the Conference.

The authors also noted and subsequently thanked in their speech each and every Body and individual who has, over the last 5 years, contributed in some way to their multifaceted educational and research based work on Mediation. In addition, they referred to the characteristics of the process of Mediation that had inspired the authors’ love for it and practical aspects of Mediation which render it as a highly efficient process internationally, where it has been taught and implemented in practice for several years. The authors have been part of dozens of mediation processes overseas and are of the notion that the particular characteristics mentioned are those that will make a difference with regards to the prospects of Mediation firmly entering the existing Greek dispute resolution system and aiding in its enhancement and evolvement.

A special reference was made to the common values upon which the basis of the authors’ long-lasting successful collaboration lies. The same common values are also shared between the authors and Attorney-at-Law – Mediator and Mediators Trainer Mrs. Eirini Matsouka, the collaboration amongst whom has led to the founding of the Mediation Company “RESOLVE”, which focuses on the implementation of the Mediation process in a plethora of private disputes, in accordance with the Greek legislation.

Mr. Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice Transparency and Human Rights and Mediator of the workshop’s panel Nikolas Kanellopoulos, presented a brief historical review of when Greece was first introduced to Mediation in 2008 and its present-day place in Greek reality, a movement that Mr. Kanellopoulos was very actively supportive of.

In addition, Mr. Kanellopoulos expanded on the prospects of development for Mediation in the Greek legal system, through its expected compulsory implementation in the preliminary stage of court cases on dispute resolution with a proposed amendment on the existing relative Greek legislation.

Finally, he congratulated the authors for their contribution to the field of Mediation, firstly by having dedicated their professional careers on Mediation and secondly, by writing and publishing a textbook on the subject, which he praised for its scientific value both on a theoretical as well as a practical application level. Mr. Kanellopoulos finished his speech by introducing the Panel and inviting its members to take their turn on beginning their speech.

Mr. Charalambos Machairas, Supreme Court Judge, Mediator and President of the Exams Committee for the Accreditation of Mediators, quoted several excerpts from the textbook and referred in detail to the role of an attorney in a Mediation process, during which the involved parties are obligated to have their attorneys present. He then discussed the differences of an attorney’s conduct when he/she is present in the process of Mediation as oppose to when he/she is representing a party in the courtroom.

Mr. Fotis Kotsis, Attorney-at-Law, Member of the Athens Bar Association Board and President of the Mediator Training Body “Athens Mediators Training Center – PROMETHEUS”, spoke about the training of Mediators.

Mr. Kotsis referred to the excellent collaboration between the Training Center and the authors and Mediators Trainers, Spyros Antonelos and Eleni Plessa. He shared with the audience his experience and personal gains of reading the textbook and highlighted the parts of it which mention the prestigious social status mediators have possessed and enjoyed through the years, since the birth of Mediation in Ancient and Medieval Greece. Finally, he stressed the need of an effective specialiazed training of the modern day Mediator to be established, in order for him/her to be adequately prepared and able to fulfill his/her duties in their entirety.

Mrs. Amanda Bucklow, Distinquished Mediator and Head Mediator Skills Trainer of the British Mediator Training Body “Facilit8” and “Athens Mediators Training Center – PROMETHEUS”, expressed how moved she was to have seen the growth and dedication that the authors have shown with regards to their involvement with Mediation – the authors are her present fellow trainers in “PROMETHEUS” and her former trainees, as they were two of the very first Mediators in Greece (Spyros Antonelos since 2008 and Eleni Plessa since 2009, at the time Mrs. Bucklow was training Mediators in programs run by the Hellenic Ministry of Growth).

Mrs. Bucklow then moved on to talk about the multiple, from various perspectives, benefits that Mediation offers to a society. She gave a brief historic review of the very first reaction the society and the Legal profession of the United Kingdom had with regards to their receptiveness, upon their introduction and exposure to Mediation, up until the subsequent growth of the process and its indisputable success.  Furthermore, she expanded on the benefits of Mediation on the British economy and the economy of any other country and closed her speech by focusing on the real and effective solutions Mediation can offer towards the growth of the Greek National Economy and the facilitation of Entrepreneurship in the country, since the Greek environment is currently highly adverse.

Mrs. Danae Bezantakou, internationally distinguished Entrepreneur in the Maritime industry as well as the Tourism and Hospitality industries and President of “IforU”, a Greek Mentoring Network which empowers women entrepreneurs, commented, among others, on the practical application of the Book with means to establish Mediation as an approachable tool used by the entrepreneurial world of Greece in matters of assisted negotiation and dispute resolution.

Mrs. Bezentakou then elaborated on the situation that Entrepreneurship in Greece is currently under, pointing out that Mediation can not only be a solution for the survival and growth of Greek businesses but also one that aids in the attraction of foreign investment to the Greek economy. That is because the process of Mediation allows for a dispute to be resolved in significantly less time compared to the length and duration needed to do so by using the traditional Greek legal proceedings route, which can prove and has proven to be an important reason for an investor to decide otherwise when considering on investing in the Greek economy.

Following the completion of the panel’s speeches, a reception was held at the Cultural Centre, where everyone had the chance to converse and exchange opinions on the growth of Mediation in Greece.