City Scholars Moot Final. Supreme Court. Lord Sumption. Help!

On 14th March 2017 four City students faced Lord Sumption at the Supreme Court in the final of the City Scholars Moot.

The City Scholars Moot is open to all students on the LLB and Graduate Entry LLB programmes and kicks off with the first round in November. Finalists for the 2016-17 competition as follows:

  • Najma Ali (LLB3)
  • Zehra Hassan (GELLB1)
  • Kareem Tamam (LLB1)
  • Nigar Ali (LLB3)
The problem pivoted around the potential duty of care owed in a cricket match and it was Kareem who triumphed on the day, with Najma as runner-up.
So what did our mooters think of their experience?

Nigar Ali, Kareem Tamam, Lord Sumption, Daniel Isenberg (Judicial Assisstant to Lord Sumption & City GDL alumni), Zehra Hassan and Najma Ali

Kareem
So it’s the final and there I am standing in front of Lord Sumption, a man who the Guardian dubbed the ‘Brain of Britain’, about to discuss an area of law I only learned existed a week prior. I only have one thought going through my mind- how on earth did I make it this far?

Mooting truly is the best thing you will ever do as a Law Student. Not many practicing Barristers can say they have presented a case in the Supreme Court. Thus being given the opportunity to do so whilst still a student is truly remarkable and something I will always be grateful for. The following is what I learnt throughout the entire process.

Moots always start and end the same way. You start off nervous at the prospect of trying to pass yourself off as an expert in a particular area of law and nervous at the end of it, eagerly awaiting the news of your success or failure. However, it is all about what happens in-between. Once you get up and actually start talking, a rush of adrenaline hits you and it feels great. You’re on top of the world and it is just you and the judge, in what always feels like your first proper case as a proper Barrister (even if you are not wearing those silly wigs).

Speaking to many of my fellow students, the one thing that seems to put them off joining any competitive moot is the thought of public speaking. Advocacy can be something of a scary thought, but here’s what I would say if you were worried or nervous about mooting.

Firstly, you are at University! This is the time and place in your life where you owe it to yourself to try new experiences. Do something you thought you never would – carpe diem and all that stuff. Also, here is the bit that most students don’t seem to fully comprehend and it bewilders me. There is literally nothing to lose and everything to gain! A moot will force you to read up in some depth on an area of law. Guess what – you are now an expert in that area. A moot will equip you with planning and preparation skills you never knew you had. Guess what – you are now way more organized with your time. Worst-case scenario in a moot is you don’t proceed to the next round. What you will still proceed with however, is all that knowledge you stored up in preparation.

So just how on earth did I end up winning the City Scholars Moot, as a first year against older students, in areas of law I was yet to learn. Well, truthfully I do not know. Nevertheless, if I had to write a winning recipe, this is what I would write.

A little bit of preparation, a lot of research and a sprinkle of confidence all mixed together and poured into some business attire.

Nigar

There were few things I’ve been more excited about than mooting in front of Lord Sumption. At the same time I was really nervous that I will completely mess up my bundle (because to be honest, it already happened to me once) or that I will forget English once the judge starts asking me questions and will instead be incoherently mumbling something in a mixture of Azerbaijani and Russian. However, as it always happens, the actual thing wasn’t as scary as I thought: Lord Sumption was very attentive and patient. He carefully read the synopsis of every case we had in our bundles and was able to immediately process our arguments, pointed out the weak and strong sides of them. His questions were direct but there was no pressure applied to any of the participants, even in relation to our weakest submissions.

Nervous preparation in advance of Lord Sumption’s arrival…

There are two things I would like to share with all the students who might be interested in mooting. First, if you do not wish to have a career as a barrister, do not strike out mooting straight away – mooting is a very interesting (even though nerve wracking) experience which can help you gain the most important skills any lawyer should possess, such as the ability to analyse and to critically assess every situation and to think on your feet. Second, this is a bit of a cliche, but don’t give up on something you enjoy doing simply because you can’t succeed at the beginning. I have entered several mooting competitions since the first year but I never reached the final round until now. Even though I didn’t win the final, I still had the honour of mooting in the Supreme Court in front of one of the greatest judges of our time which is a dream come true.
Najma
The City Scholars Moot allowed me to challenge myself on my advocacy as well as the points of law. Part of being an advocate is knowing how to orally convey your arguments but to also question the law and its adequacy in society. I believe standing before Jonathan Sumption, of all people, arguing on points of the issue of duty of care and its relation to sports has made me realise that I have the confidence to represent (though, fictional) clients to the best of my ability. Though it was a challenging and gruelling process, the Moot has taught me a lot about the notion of perseverance and advocacy. And for that, I am glad I took part in it.

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