ELSA Mooting Competition: CIBEL sponsor UNSW Law team

UNSW Law student Cara Sorensen provides her report of the mooting competition.

"The European Law Students' Association (ELSA) organises an annual international moot court competition for international trade law, which simulates hearings in the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organisation. CIBEL was responsible for sponsoring the team from UNSW Law for this year's edition, the first time the faculty has competed in a few years. Our team consisted of Mitchell Buckingham, Laura Dransfield, Nicholas Story and Cara Sorensen and was coached by Professor Brett Williams.

The competition involved a fictional dispute being released to participants in September 2015. The focus of this year's dispute was on renewable energy in the context of the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures Agreement. Teams had to draft and submit Written Memorials for both the Complainant and Respondent by mid-January 2016, before competing in their Regional Rounds by making oral submissions as both Complainant and Respondent before distinguished panellists and other competitors. A team's written submissions are worth 30% of their overall score and their oral submissions are worth 70% and on the basis of these scores semi-finalists are determined. Teams who make the Grand Finals of their regional rounds are then eligible to compete in the Final Oral Round in Geneva, Switzerland. The process of drafting the Written Memorials is both gruelling and rewarding, we spent much of our summer break reading cases, writing and editing their written submissions, before undertaking many practice moots before various trade law experts - including a number of CIBEL staff.

The Asia-Pacific Regional Round took place in mid-March, where our team were Runners-Up in the South Asia Grand Final, competing against Gujarat University from India. Our team won a number of awards at the Regional Round, including Best Respondent Written Submissions, Best Overall Written Submissions and the individual award of Best Semi-Finals Orator to Mitch Buckingham.

In June 2016, our team then competed in the Final Oral Round, along with 20 teams from all over the world. The competition was exciting and tough, with many panellists who have spent some or most of their career working with the WTO. Whilst unfortunately our team did not progress past the preliminary rounds, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience and challenge of the Final Oral Round, in addition to interacting with trade law professionals and talented law students from around the world, as well as having the opportunity to visit the WTO. The Grand Final was particularly exciting, with Pontificia Universidad Javeriana from Colombia ultimately winning the competition, with Queen's University from Canada as Runners-Up.

Our team is immeasurably grateful to UNSW Law and in particular, CIBEL, for giving us the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful competition. It was a very satisfying experience where, as both individuals and as a group we improved our practical lawyering skills and advocacy, in addition to getting genuine and useful insight into a field of law interesting to each of us."

Professor Colin Picker commented that “the team’s excellent achievements is all the more impressive given this was the first time we had fielded a team in years.” 

A copy of ELSA's final report is available here.