A team of five budding lawyers has tackled a complex case of international public law, reaching the Australian semi-finals of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.
UWA Juris Doctor students Clinton Arnold, Ebony Back, Oliver Mills, Tegan Chick, and Keahn Sardinha spent their Summer holidays poring over a fictional case brought before the International Court of Justice.
After honing their skills in legal writing, oral advocacy and research, the team flew to Canberra to moot against university teams from across Australia.
During the moot, the team made written submissions for both the Applicant and the Respondent. Then, the team faced opposing teams in oral advocacy rounds.
In just 45 minutes, the team presented their pleadings to the Court. This year’s fictional case—incorporating transboundary aquifers, the right to water resulting in damage to World Heritage, the illicit transfer of cultural property, and refugee outflows—revolved around mostly unresolved areas of law.
After competing against five other teams, UWA narrowly missed out on progressing to the Australian grand finals. While the competition was challenging, the team was well prepared.
“From the moment the UWA Jessup team began in November, we spent months painstakingly learning everything there is to know in order to master the law,” the UWA team said.
“This year’s problem had several distinct and different issues to deal with and required in-depth knowledge of many areas.”
Assisting the team were coaches and UWA Jessup alumni Ralph Timpani (Associate at the Supreme Court of Western Australia.), Eleni Kannis (Associate at the Supreme Court of Western Australia), and Charlotte Westbrook (Solicitor at DLA Piper). The coaches assisted the team to prepare, acting as judges for practice moots, providing feedback and – in the case of Ralph and Eleni – travelling with the team to Canberra.
The Jessup competition is considered to be the most prestigious international mooting competition for law students. But for the UWA team, the biggest prize was in the learning process itself.
“The biggest thing we got out of participating in Jessup was seeing our skills increase tenfold,” the team members said.
“Each of us has developed a stronger work ethic, better time management, research, oral advocacy and teamwork skills. Everything we have learnt will assist us in years to come. In addition, we join an alumnus of UWA Jessup competitors which dates back to the early 1980s, and we hope to support and assist teams to achieve success in the future.”
In more tangible outcomes, the UWA team was awarded the Best Applicant Memorial (written submission) for having the highest scoring Applicant Memorial in Australia. Additionally, their Respondent Memorial was ranked as the third highest in Australia.
Clinton, Ebony, Oliver, Tegan and Keahn all hope to become lawyers or barristers in the future, and highly recommend mooting to other law students.
“Mooting is a great opportunity to develop advocacy and research skills. There is no better way to engage with the law than by learning how to present arguments, answer questions, explain difficult concepts in simple terms and hopefully persuade the judges!” the team enthused.
“UWA’s strong encouragement of mooting gives students like us the opportunity to compete in local, national and international competitions.
“We owe a big thank you to the many academic and administrative staff from the UWA Law School for their assistance and support during Jessup. In particular, we’d like to thank the library staff, Carol Hicks, Catherine Kafentzis, Sylvia Kalitsis and Philip Pegg, and the unit co-ordinator, Renae Barker.”
The team took part in the Jessup competition as part of the unit LAWS5162 Jessup International Moot Competition.
UWA has competed in Jessup since the early 1980s. UWA has represented Australia in the international rounds in 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Verity Chia (Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Education) (+61 8) 6488 1346