Mooting in Belfast at the HSF/QUB Corporate Law Moot Competition

City Law School GDL students Douglas Grant and Ben Lewy won the 2017 QUB and HSF Corporate Law Mooting Championship on 25th February. 3 QCs and the Honourable Justice Keegan (Northern Ireland’s first ever female High Court judge) judged the final and City won 4-0 in a unanimous decision. The judges refused to award an extra £100 for ‘Best Advocate’, advising the competition organiser Chris Mallon, that there was absolutely no difference between the exceptional ability of both City advocates (the extra £100 was equally split between both mooters). Here’s Doug to tell us more about the day…

In late February Ben Lewy and I flew out to Belfast, armed with bundles and skeleton arguments, to compete in the Herbert Smith Freehills Corporate Law Moot hosted by Queen’s University.

We were to spend the day arguing a case on consideration and promissory estoppel which echoed of MWB v Rock Advertising [2016] EWCA Civ 553. The owner of a shopping centre had granted its struggling tenant a reduction in rent, but when a better offer came in the landlord decided to turf out the tenant and call in its debts. The tenant brought a claim for breach of contract, but this was dismissed: no consideration had been given for the new agreement, and there was no inequity in allowing the landlord to enforce its strict legal rights. The tenant now appealed to the Supreme Court.

After ironing out our arguments in the hotel the night before, we arrived at QUB’s beautiful campus  to begin the competition with a group stage. We were drawn against Leicester, Nottingham Trent and the host team from QUB. The winners from each group would progress to the knockout stages.

We started well with a victory against a good team from Leicester, but after a draw against Nottingham Trent we needed to beat QUB to progress to the knockout rounds. The hosts opened with a strong performance for the appellant and our hopes started to fade. Despite our best efforts we could only snatch a draw – QUB had finished top of the group.

But we were in luck. As the highest-scoring runners-up, we edged into the semi-finals to come up against a second team from the host university. After another hard-fought moot, we won by the slimmest of margins and went through to the final against fellow GDL students from BPP London.

Mrs Justice Keegan presided over an expanded panel of judges in QUB’s impressive moot court. We had the luck of the toss and chose to argue for the ousted tenant: consideration for the variation agreement had passed in the form of ‘practical benefit’; it would be inequitable for the landlord to go back on its promise; and, failing all else, the court should do away with the rule in Foakes v Beer.

The BPP team responded well, but after the judges had returned from their deliberations they found in our favour. We had won.

The celebratory dinner was cut short by the prospect of a dawn flight back to London the following day, but it had been an excellent experience. Mooting five times in a single day in front of experienced barristers and judges provided the kind of advocacy training that is hard to come by on the GDL.

Thank you to Emily Allbon for selecting us and also organising all our travel and accommodation in Belfast,  and to the City Law School for covering our expenses. Thanks also to Chris Mallon at Queens University Belfast for organising such a fantastic event.

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