Teams from New Zealand excel in international mooting and client interviewing competitions

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Pictured here at the Willem C Vis mooting competition in Vienna are Cheyne Cudby (coach), competitors Philip Arnold, Thom Clark, Sally Wu and Caitlin Hollings, along with Campbell Herbert (coach)

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Representatives from the University of Auckland Law School have recently been jetting all over the world, from Austria to the USA and from Prague to Puerto Rico, showing off their mooting and interviewing skills in top international competitions attracting participants from around the globe. We round up some of their successes below.

Auckland team gives strong performance in the world’s largest mooting competition

A team of students from the University of Auckland Law School has placed in the top eight in one of the world’s largest and most prestigious mooting competitions.

The Willem C Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot was held in Vienna in mid-April this year. The Auckland team reached the quarter-finals, where it was unfortunately knocked out by Deakin University in a split-decision. Deakin ultimately went on to win the competition.

The 2014 competition marks the first year in more than a decade that an Auckland team has participated in the Vis moot, which is the largest single mooting competition globally, attracting more than 2000 students from 300 universities and 900 arbitrators.

The team, comprising Philip Arnold, Caitlin Hollings, Thom Clark, Sally Wu and Luke Sizer (who did not travel with the team but assisted in the writing of memoranda), faced off against teams from Utrecht University, Dalian Maritime University, MGIMO University and the University of Osnabrück in the preliminary rounds.

In the knockout rounds of the competition, the team went on to beat teams from the University of New South Wales, the University of Ottawa, and the Catholic University of America.

Caitlin Hollings and Sally Wu both received an Honourable Mention for their oral performance, placing them in the top fifty speakers at the competition. The team as a whole also received an Honourable Mention for its overall oral performance.

Coaches Cheyne Cudby and Campbell Herbert travelled with the team to Vienna.

“Their success is a testament to the incredible amount of work they have put in over the last six months. Auckland’s success at the competition, and the impressive showing from their colleagues from Victoria, firmly cements both Auckland and New Zealand’s already strong reputation on the world stage,” said Cheyne.

“The team very quickly developed a reputation as a formidable opponent,” said Campbell, “an incredible achievement considering this was Auckland’s first foray into the Vis Moot in recent memory.”

In addition to their success at the competition proper, the team also competed at pre-moot competitions at the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, CEPANI – the Belgian Centre for Arbitration and Mediation (where it placed third), Heidelberg University, Freie Universität Berlin, and at Charles University in Prague (where it placed second, narrowly losing the final to Indonesia).

Now in its 21st year, the Vis moot competition simulates a fictional dispute, to be settled by arbitration, between commercial parties arising out of a contract governed by the Vienna Convention on the Sale of Goods.

This year’s problem concerned the applicability of the Convention to new and intangible technologies, and parties’ ability to compel arbitration when faced with a pathological arbitration clause – an issue currently under consideration by the New Zealand Supreme Court.

In the lead-up to the oral rounds in Vienna, teams prepare written memoranda for both claimant and respondent.

The oral rounds see students make submissions before three person tribunals comprised of professional arbitrators, counsel practising in the areas of arbitration and international trade, and leading academics.

Philip Arnold and Thom Clark have finished LLB(Hons) degrees. On their return from Vienna, Thom will commence work with Bell Gully and Philip with Minter Ellison Rudd Watts. Caitlin Hollings and Sally Wu both resume their studies. In 2015 Caitlin will assume a judge’s clerkship in the Auckland High Court and Sally a clerkship at Buddle Findlay.

The team acknowledges the generous support of the Faculty of Law, which helped make possible its success, and also wishes to extend its thanks to the Vice Chancellor, Russell McVeagh, and the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand for their financial support.

The team also thanks those members of the profession, the Bench, and colleagues from other universities who have provided support in their preparation for the competition.

Auckland Law School gives an outstanding performance in the Jessup Moot Competition 2014

The Auckland Law Faculty’s mooting team represented New Zealand at the prestigious Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in Washington in April. 

The team won all four of their moots in the preliminary rounds in Washington, including their moots against the high-ranking Paris Institute of Political Studies, the University of Oxford, and teams from Macau and Kuwait.

The Auckland team, comprising Nupur Upadhyay, Jeremy Wilson, Gretta Schumacher and Tim Condor (who did not travel with the team), was ranked third out of the 32 teams to go forward to the run-offs midway through their week in Washington, from among teams from more than 600 law schools in about 90 countries – making this the largest moot in the world.

The team lost their run-off moot with China’s University of Wuhan in the next round, knocking it out of the competition, in which Auckland Law School has represented New Zealand for five of the last six years. In the final results, the Auckland team was ranked in the top 10 for its written submissions, and all three orallists were placed in the top 100. 

Coaches Associate Professor Caroline Foster (International Law) and Isaac Hikaka (Advocacy) travelled with the team. “They performed very well in the competition and did credit to New Zealand,” Associate Professor Foster says. “It was a pleasure to work with them and their teamwork was excellent – they have shown that New Zealand can hold its own on the world stage in this highly competitive competition.”

The team’s preparation was also assisted by Mark Tushingham and Benedict Tompkins, both successful participants from the 2012 Auckland team.

This year’s Jessup problem concerned the conflict between maritime development and conservation, criminal jurisdiction and maritime salvage rights.

Teams first prepared written submissions, just as states do in the real International Court of Justice.

These were graded and the points taken into account in working out whether they should win each of their moots in the various rounds in which they participated in Washington.

The memorials were written and honed over December and the summer break to meet the January deadline, after which the team put in several months’ preparation for the oral rounds, which were the focus during the week in Washington.

“The team’s memorials were ranked highly, demonstrating that they are good on paper, as well as in person,” Caroline notes.

She says highlights of the competition included the very grand opening ceremony with a parade of nations and the Go-National costume ball, where the New Zealand team (including coaches) dressed as characters from the Lord of the Rings.

The Jessup Moot was won by the University of Queensland, bringing the final award to our corner of the world, which is a nice touch, Caroline observes.

The team is very grateful for the support of the New Zealand Law Foundation, the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law, and the members of the Faculty, Bench and profession, who, along with colleagues from other universities and lawyers from various government departments, helped and gave advice to the team in Auckland and Wellington during training.

They would also like to acknowledge the role of the International Law Students Association, responsible for organising the competition, and White and Case LLP, official sponsor of the White & Case Jessup International Rounds.

Law students show strong client consultation skills

Auckland Law School students performed strongly in the opening rounds of the International Client Consultation Competition (ICCC), entering the semi-final round undefeated with perfect scores in first-equal place, but not making it through to the final.

Team members Andrew McLeod and Luke Sizer gave a strong interview but after a very close decision, the Dutch team progressed through to the next stage and the team from the Republic of Ireland won the competition.

Andrew and Luke were selected to represent New Zealand in the international event when they won the national Client Interviewing Competition sponsored by Russell McVeagh last year.

They travelled to San Juan, Puerto Rico last month with their coach, Robert Clarke, who says the New Zealand team members handled themselves with enthusiasm and professionalism, and the considerable effort they put into their performance at the ICCC ensured New Zealand’s strong tradition of achievement in the competition continued.

The trip was made possible with the generous support of the New Zealand Law Foundation, which has funded the attendance at the competition by New Zealand’s national representatives for a number of years.

The Faculty of Law at Auckland University also provided valuable administrative support to the team.

The competition is designed to simulate a client consultation in a legal context.

The lawyers are required to conduct an interview, often with little information as to the legal issues faced by their client, and to then provide some preliminary legal advice on their client’s options.

At the conclusion of the interview, the lawyers also conduct a “post-consultation” discussion between themselves where they cover the important issues that the interview raised and divide any work that the client needs done.

In 2014, the theme of the competition was “Commercial Contracts”.

The team found the ICCC an invaluable experience in terms of development of legal skills relevant to future practice and the opportunity to engage with lawyers and law students from other jurisdictions.

Team members were very interested in how those other jurisdictions would respond to the issues raised within the competition.  

 

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