Why this mooting competition was a highlight of our university years

Participating in mooting competitions is an excellent way to develop your advocacy skills – particularly if you are looking to pursue a career at the bar. The Law School has a well established advocacy programme open to current students throughout the academic year. Current undergraduate law students, Cher Lyne Peh and Chloe Yeung impressively came in second place from 64 universities competing at the OUP & ICCA National Moot Competition. Read their blog below to find out more about what the competition entailed and what they learned during this experience.

Cher Lyne Peh & Chloe Yeung
Cher Lyne Peh & Chloe Yeung

It all started back in September 2021 when we came across the OUP & ICCA National Moot Competition 2021-2022. Having had some mooting experience, we wanted to challenge ourselves and compete at a national level.

The Competition

The Moot took place over eight months and consisted of 64 competing universities/teams across the UK. Each round engaged different legal topics and issues which were very current and mostly unresolved. We were able to moot on cases awaiting the judgment of the Supreme Court such as Fearn v The Tate Gallery [2020] EWCA Civ 104, Paul v The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust [2022] EWCA Civ 12 and many more. In the Grand Finals, we were judged by The Rt Honourable Lady Justice Andrews and were invited to dine at Middle Temple.

Preparation

In each round, we started preparation by doing a broad sweep of the topic across platforms such as Westlaw, LexisNexis and so on. Most of the time, the moot problem would be on a general area of law that we were familiar with (e.g. tort). However, the actual subject area would be a lot more niche (e.g. psychiatric injury for secondary victims and overlooking into neighbours’ windows as a form of tortious nuisance).

“Since the moot problems were set in the Supreme Court, anything could be overturned or overruled, so we had licence to stretch our imagination!”

Hence, we looked beyond merely applying primary sources such as cases and legislation; we looked at the intention of the relevant legislation, rationale of decided case law, academic commentaries and law reform proposals from the UK and other commonwealth countries in order to build strong arguments and a good foundation of knowledge.

Secondly, we would refine, test and build on each other’s thinking processes to establish (hopefully!) not only sound but original legal arguments. We would embark on a “rebuttal exercise” where we would put forward rebuttals to each of our arguments to ensure that comprehensive responses had been crafted for any opposing arguments and judicial intervention we could think of. We would then summarise these into documents called “skeleton arguments”, to be submitted to our opponents and judges well before each round.

Cher Lyne Peh & Chloe Yeung

Thirdly, preparing to advocate orally was the next stage of the process. A very practical and effective way to test our fluency, ability to respond to judicial interventions and the strengths of our submissions was to practice them with the other teammate intervening as the judge. For the Grand Finals, we were instructed to print our bundles and skeleton arguments to better simulate an in-person courtroom environment. Filing and tabbing our bundles in heavy ring binders, then carrying them to London with us for the competition, was certainly a physically taxing ordeal, but was truly an exciting moment for both of us!

Skills

The requisite skills of research, legal-mindedness, quick thinking and fluent advocacy are essential for mooting, particularly at a competitive level. However, the first skill that helped us progress to the finals of the competition, ultimately winning second place was definitely having a strategy.

“In a national competition comprising many excellent universities and students, we knew that we had to go above and beyond the traditional mooting scorecard criteria of good advocacy skill and knowledge of the law  – we had to stand out and be original.”

Secondly, mooting on such complex and controversial topics meant that we had to develop a firm grasp of the core issues in each moot problem. Broad research was undoubtedly important, but just like tackling any problem question in an exam, we had to distinguish the helpful resources and strong arguments from the peripheral, insignificant ones, so to build a case that was not simply effective and strong, but focused, persuasive and easy to understand.

Cher Lyne Peh & Chloe Yeung

Finally, teamwork was crucial to our success. Having mooted with each other previously, we knew of each other’s particular strengths, and so delegated arguments and speaker positions accordingly. More broadly though, having a teammate meant that we could bounce ideas off each other and be constructively critical of each other’s thought processes, which helped us massively as we progressed into more difficult rounds.

Final Thoughts

Getting to moot in front of a Court of Appeal judge at the Middle Temple was a great honour and privilege for us, and definitely one of the highlights of our university years.

Cher Lyne Peh & Chloe Yeung

This competition tested our ability to research a broad range of unfamiliar and unresolved areas of the law and use it for a hypothetical client’s interest. This experience no doubt affirmed and enhanced our skills as advocates, law students and aspiring barristers, and has been an extremely memorable way to end our time at the University of Bristol.

“We would heartily recommend any student interested in pursuing the Bar, or a career in law, to represent Bristol at this competition in the years to come!”

Further information

Find out more about the practical experiences of law opportunities available to law students on our Careers and Employability webpages – and find out how you can do more with law.

 

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