Have you ever imagined mooting in front of Michael Kirby? UTas students Salman Shah and Daniel Westbury were able to live out the dream at the Annual Michael Kirby Contract Law Moot Competition. The pair achieved success, entering the quarter finals at the four-day competition held at the Victoria Law School. As the largest moot in Australia, it brings together teams from across the nation. The prestigious tournament started in 2011, and is supported by various legal firms, as well as practical training institutions, the Victorian bar and Victorian County Court. The mooters’ task is to engage with a contract problem and bring their case in a court setting, where they receive feedback from judges and legal professionals. The winner is awarded prize money and usually goes on to compete in international mooting competitions.
Sal Shah tells us about the experience of making the quarter finals:
How was the moot?
The moot was pretty good, but brutal, because it was a really hard problem. The contract problem involved Blockchain, in an issue between a car manufacturer and a battery supplier.
Were you surprised with your result?
It was my first time mooting, so I thought I’m not going to get past the general rounds. But surprise surprise, we got into the elimination rounds, and then we got past those to the quarter finals.
What was it like to be judged by Kirby J?
It was great to watch Kirby J do his thing. He questioned people and gave comments, but he wasn’t the hard one out of the two judges. The other judge Michael Wilds, he was more like the watchdog, the bad cop.
What was the schedule like?
Over four days, all we did was work at the library … eat, sleep, moot. It was pretty intense!
What practical skills did you gain?
Well, the advantage with the Kirby moot is that it’s commercial arbitration, not standing in front of a judge; it’s more like a business meeting than a court room. It’s more likely that we’ll find ourselves in this kind of scenario than a courtroom, in practise, so I think it was realistic in the business context of the problem.
What was the hardest aspect of the moot?
It was really hard delivering the submissions, as each team speaks for thirty minutes. We had to split up the time between the two of us, so one of us was 17 minutes and the other was 12.
Do you have any advice for first time mooters entering this competition?
This problem was really heavy. I wish I had dropped a subject at uni – it would have been much better, because handling the workload was difficult.
Having said that, anyone going into the Kirby contract moot should know that because it’s a commercial problem, it’s very realistic and useful for your degree and future career. Just do it light-heartedly, chill out and give it your best.
Everyone there is really supportive from the judges to the organisers, and there’s a friendly spirit to it. It doesn’t get too competitive – and the gala celebration was really fun.