Future Lawyer Blog

Report No. 5: Commonwealth Student Moot – Matthew Sellwood

Yesterday was a rollercoaster, and today was no different. We had both spent the evening trying to relax, although Daniele somehow managed to muster the energy to hone his submissions a little further. It was all I could do to stay awake! We both woke up early to put the finishing touches to our adaptation of the Respondent’s argument, and then headed off to our second appointment with India – this time, in a knockout format. Whilst we had been lucky to qualify for the semi-finals, we knew that there was no alternative to winning this time.

Congratulations to Matt & Daniele! Credit: SJ Photography

Perhaps this new pressure affected the Indian team a little. They weren’t quite as smooth and polished as they had been yesterday, although their submissions were still absolutely excellent and full of fact and detail. Unfortunately for them, however, since we were representing the same parties as in the previous moot, we had been able to anticipate more of their arguments, and were much better able to rebut them. Both of us were delighted with the quality of our submissions, despite some serious nerves – and when the judgment came in, we found that we had won!

We have certainly been on an upwards learning curve when it comes to international law, and getting to the final after losing our first two moots left us rather stunned.

We couldn’t stay that way for long, however, as immediately after our semi-final Canada and Australia met each other to determine the other finalist. By a ridiculously small margin of one point, Australia prevailed, and we knew which team we would be facing.

After that, we only had a couple of hours to further refine our arguments. At 4 pm, we found ourselves in front of a panel of Chief Justices Archie, Elias, and Gardner – the presiding judges of New Zealand, Trinidad & Tobago, and the Falkland Islands respectively. As might be expected, they peppered us with interventions. The junior counsel for both parties suffered particularly badly, as Australia were putting forward an argument around the mandatory death penalty which the panel had not necessarily anticipated, and Daniele was attempting to argue some quite difficult to sustain points around the use of circumstantial evidence.

As expected, it was tight. Neither of us knew what to expect when we filed back in for judgment. I’m delighted to say that it was good news! We won, and became Commonwealth Mooting champions. Daniele was also named the best mooter in the final, due to his excellence in dealing with some very challenging questioning from the bench. Unexpectedly, we received a first place prize of £500 of LexisNexis vouchers, along with a number of other mementoes by which to remember the moot. Tomorrow, we’ll be presented with the Turnbull Shield at the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Law Conference. Perhaps, by that stage, it might actually have sunk in that we managed to win!

Matthew Sellwood and Daniele Selmi (students at The City Law School) have been representing the UK at the Commonwealth Student Moot in Cape Town, after winning the ESU National Moot last year. They are the first UK team to win the competition in a decade!

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