Future Lawyer Blog

Representing the UK at the Commonwealth Student Moot (in Cape Town!) – Matthew Sellwood

Two students taking the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) at The City Law School have been selected to compete in a high profile international competition. Matthew Sellwood and Daniele Selmi will travel to Cape Town in South Africa for the 13th Commonwealth Student Moot.

The invitation-only Moot is limited to representative teams from regions of the Commonwealth. Matthew and Daniele secured their place by winning the English Speaking Union National Mooting Competition, the largest and oldest of its kind in the country. They will compete against the best teams from North America, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa, Australasia and the South Pacific for the Commonwealth Shield.

The competition is held in conjunction with the 18th Commonwealth Law Conference (CLC) and takes place between 14th April and 18th April 2013. It has been ten years since a team from the UK triumphed at the competition.

Matthew and Daniele will be sending regular updates about their experiences which will appear here on Lawbore’s Future Lawyer blog. Drum roll for the first report in this series!

Daniele and Matthew at the ESU National Final 2012

My name is Matthew Sellwood, and I am a recovering politician. Specifically, before I started down a legal path, I used to be a local councillor. After getting better, I thought I’d take the law conversion and study to be a barrister. That brought me into contact with Dr Daniele Selmi, who is a recovering academic scientist, and who also wanted to do a bit of mooting whilst learning what the legal world was all about.

Daniele and I first started mooting together in October 2011, as part of an internal competition during our law conversion course. That first round was one of the hardest moots we’ve ever had to face, but we got through it somehow, and managed to win the competition.

After that, we represented our university in the English Speaking Union/Essex Court Chambers national competition, and were lucky enough to win the final. Being grilled by a High Court judge about the law of trusts was quite an experience, particularly given my less than stellar grasp of the equitable jurisdiction at the time.

We had expected that to be our last moot, but after we had both chosen to pursue the BPTC at City Law School, we were asked to represent the United Kingdom at the Commonwealth Moot. We would have said yes anyway, of course, but the fact that it is to be held in Cape Town didn’t hurt. However, if I had thought that my grasp on equity and trusts was poor, imagine our slight consternation when we found out that the problem was going to be based on the legality of nuclear programmes and the sovereign rights of nations. Neither Daniele nor I have been taught a day of international law in our lives.

Fellow BPTC students will also be aware that early April is not the best time to be attempting to learn something new, given the workload imposed by the central litigation exams. Nevertheless, Daniele and I have put together our submissions, sent them off, and are preparing to fly out to South Africa. Only an enormous amount of photocopying in order to prepare our bundles remains. Along with the small matter of presenting oral arguments in front of some of the world’s leading judicial minds, on a topic which we have learnt from scratch.

What could possibly go wrong?

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