My experience participating in the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot

International Commercial Law LLM student Elene Kalandiia recently took part in the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot in Vienna – a competition for law students to develop and practise advocacy skills in international commercial law and arbitration. She shared her experience of preparing for the competition, and how it sharpened her advocacy, networking, and employability skills.

The team: Stanisław Mucha, Elene Kalandiia, Vaishnavi Naik, Nguyen Hoang. On the right, our coach: Ahmed Drwish. 

When I first arrived at the University of Bristol, one of my aspirations was to participate in the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. During the very first lecture dedicated to international commercial arbitration I asked my professor, Dr Mark Campbell, whether it was possible to participate. It turned out the University had not taken part before, however Dr Campbell was very supportive of the idea and encouraged me to gather a team. 

The Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot

The Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot is a competition for law students to develop and practise advocacy skills in international commercial law and arbitration – as well as presenting an opportunity to build valuable connections with other aspiring legal minds, and legal scholars, from around the world. 

The moot problem involves two foundational aspects: procedural and substantive issues. Our team delved into this year’s challenge, tackling legal issues that mirror the complexities of real-world arbitration.  

On the procedural aspect, we worked on the tribunal’s authority to authorise new claims or alternatively consolidate them. Meanwhile, the merits of the case concerned application of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG).  

In this instance, the moot problem raised the impact of cyber-attacks on parties’ legal relationships. These legal dilemmas reflected contemporary challenges that demand creative legal reasoning. 

Preparing for the Moot

The path to the Vis moot was paved with hard preparation and teamwork. Our coach, Mr Ahmed Drwish, gave us valuable insights and guidance that helped to strengthen our arguments, striving for clarity and persuasiveness. From the moment the moot problem was released, we concentrated on numerous brainstorming sessions, intensive research, and rigorous practice.  

Divided into distinct steps—drafting written memorandums for both the Claimant and Respondent, and later getting ready for the oral hearings—the process demanded both strategic planning and adaptability. Each team member was responsible for specific aspects of arguments – my role for instance was focused on the merits. 

Exploring and applying the vast expanse of legal resources posed its own challenge. Amidst a sea of information, we narrowed our approach, selecting the most practical sources to build our arguments. The heart of our preparation laid in crafting compelling arguments that transcended legal theory. We linked each argument to principles of efficiency, commercial reasonableness, and practicality. In doing so, we sought to demonstrate real-world applicability of our stance. 

Transitioning to the oral pleadings introduced a new dimension to our preparation. With the supervision of Mr Ahmed, we pushed ourselves to explore new avenues of legal reasoning and seized the opportunity to test our arguments via online practices with universities worldwide. Participation in the London pre-moot enabled us to compete against the strongest teams in front of arbitrators from around the globe. 

Exploring the Art of Advocacy

Over these six months, our journey through the Vis moot became a transformative experience that sharpened our advocacy skills and enhanced our ability to apply legal principles to real-world scenarios.

The moot competition demanded strategic foresight and tactical agility. As we crafted our written memorandum, we learned how to build compelling arguments that combined legal theory with practical application. Pleading was not merely about presenting our own case – it was about anticipating and countering the arguments of our opponents with precision. We learned to think several moves ahead, anticipating possible rebuttal and crafting persuasive responses. 

Central to our preparation was the spirit of teamwork. Each team member brought their unique strengths to the table. Amidst all the late-night preparations, I am especially thankful for the moments of laughter and camaraderie that got us through the stressful times. 

Impact of our Moot journey

Our participation became a gateway to the global arbitration community, offering us an opportunity to set connections with distinguished practitioners and outstanding fellow students.  

“Beyond developing our legal advocacy skills, the moot became a platform for shaping meaningful relationships with individuals from diverse backgrounds, united by a shared passion for the law.”

This journey not only expanded our professional networks but also enriched our lives with new perspectives and friendships. 

Embrace the Moot Journey

Mooting is about seizing opportunities to stand out in the realm of law.  Here’s hoping our experience sets a path for many more to come!  

“From grappling with real-life legal issues to showcasing our skills on a global stage, the moot experience gifted us invaluable lessons and unforgettable moments.”

It is a journey that empowers you to grow personally and professionally. Employers recognize the immense value of mooting experience, viewing it as a testament to your dedication, preparation, and versatility.  

Believe in yourself, embrace the challenges that come your way, and dream big. 

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