Future Lawyer Blog

Report No. 4 from Cape Town: Commonwealth Student Moot – Matthew Sellwood

What a day! Credit: bluebike

A mooting competition isn’t necessarily where one would go to find some drama in Cape Town. Today, however, there was drama everywhere one looked.

As you might remember from the last blog, we were against India today, and we needed to do well after our defeat to Namibia yesterday. We are on a steep learning curve, but it’s fair to say that we both felt much more confident today, both in our grasp of the law and our understanding of what the judges are looking for in an international competition. Despite a brief panic when we realised that we didn’t have enough papers for every judge (reminder to self – double-check this next time!), we went into the moot feeling much more relaxed.

That didn’t last through the submissions of the Indian team, made for the Applicant. Their knowledge of international law could only be described as encyclopaedic. Appendices to cases of which we had never even heard were being cited during questioning, and it was clear that they had spent months preparing. Frankly, we were rather outclassed on content, despite our best efforts.

However, we started to redeem ourselves during our submissions for the Respondent. Our legal arguments and application of the law to the facts was much better than yesterday, and we both dealt better with questioning, as well. An excellent right of reply from the Indian team’s Senior Counsel won them the moot, however, and we were resigned to having gone out in the General Round.

We were so convinced that we had gone out, in fact, that we didn’t check the results as soon as they were released, preferring to relax for an hour. Imagine our surprise when one of the Australian team told us that we had come fourth, and were in the semi-finals! The results were compiled by adding up all the marks from both moots, so as to prevent any team from being penalised by losing narrowly and yet performing well. As it turns out, that had happened to us twice. In fact, our performance against India was the second best Respondent performance of the entire General Round. I’m also delighted to say that I was awarded 3rd place in the individual advocate rankings, and Daniele came equal 7th.

So, as I write this, we are scrambling to pull together our submissions for the semi-final tomorrow morning. Against – you guessed it – India! We are even acting for the same parties, so deja vu will certainly be in play. The other semi-final consists of Australia v Canada, with a place in the final before Lord Chief Justice Judge and Lord Chief Justice Elias up for grabs. We are, suffice to say, a little nervous….

Matthew Sellwood and Daniele Selmi (students at The City Law School) are representing the UK at the Commonwealth Student Moot in Cape Town, after winning the ESU National Moot last year.

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