UTAS law students, Heidi White (in 5th year Bachelor of Arts and Law), Siobhain Galea and Sarah Jeppson (both in 4th year Bachelor of Arts and Law), took part in the 11th Annual Castan Centre Human Rights Moot from 30 August to 1 September 2017. The Castan Centre Human Rights Moot competition is based on Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act. The team defeated Melbourne University in the Semi Finals and narrowly lost to University of Queensland in the Final. The participants enjoyed the challenge of fighting for human rights in a court room.
Let’s hear from the participants themselves:
How did you hear about the human rights moot?
“I heard about it through students who competed in previous years.” - Heidi White
“I heard about it from Anja Hilkemeijer, who is currently my lecturer in the elective unit Human Rights Law. She encouraged everyone to consider going for it!” – Siobhain Galea
What was your role?
“Heidi and I were the barristers. I was ‘Senior Counsel’ and my role was to speak first in all of our moots including introducing both our arguments at the beginning.” – Siobhain Galea
“I was the instructing solicitor for the entire process. My role was to do the admin type stuff such as booking rooms, taking notes while the barristers practiced their moots. I had to follow up on any issues that came up from those practices, for instance, whether we needed to add or cut out of the arguments. I also had to help with research and writing the submissions. During the actual competition period, I had to take notes of both ours and our opponents’ arguments during the moots for anything we could incorporate into our argument or use in our right of reply.” – Sarah Jeppson
What was your experience? What were some challenges?
“The experience of Castan was extreme valuable. The challenge of preparing submissions and constantly practicing our advocacy while simultaneously keeping up with our other studies was by no means easy. However, the problem we were given was fascinating and required us to familiarise ourselves with the human rights of religious freedom and equality. In doing so, we learned a great deal about the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, and how clashes between these rights are resolved at the International level which is invaluable knowledge for any law student. In the Grand Final, we mooted in the Victorian Supreme Court in front of experienced judges which is a rare opportunity for any student. Finally, it was great to be able to meet students from other universities, share our experiences together and hear about other law schools. I would recommend this opportunity to all law students!” – Heidi White
“It was a fantastic experience. This was my first inter-varsity moot so I was grateful to have the chance to meet students from other universities and get their perspective on the legal problem we have all been stewing over for weeks. Most importantly, I learned a lot about my own strengths and limitations as a mooter. It gave me a sense of what it might be like to argue for real life clients in court. Another key highlight of the experience was learning from the different judges, who all came from a diverse range of legal backgrounds and all brought different understandings of what it takes to give a quality moot. It was exciting challenge trying to respond to their various questioning styles and of course get their feedback afterwards.” – Siobhain Galea
“I really enjoyed the experience. It was a pretty demanding process and required lots of research and time spent looking at the Victorian Charter and relevant cases because I had never studied it before at university! During the competition, we completed 4 moots including the Grand Final against the University of Queensland (where we were runners up), and every time we progressed to the next round, we had only 4 hours at most to polish up our written submissions before we had to submit them at midnight for the next round. It showed us the importance of incorporating human rights arguments and how they arise in certain situations.” – Sarah Jeppson