UTAS reached the semi-finals of the Phillip C. Jessup International Law Moot, the oldest and most prestigious moot competition in the world, whilst also winning the prize for ‘Best Memorials’ and the ‘Best and Fairest Award’.
This year’s team consisted of Chun Yu, Elias Bowe, Ella Hilder, Lily Russell, and Nick Bartlett. The team was coached by Peter Lawrence and UTAS graduate Natasha Perry. This year’s moot problem concerned state succession, the deployment of a fully autonomous wall, a trade dispute, and ministerial immunity from arrest and detention.
Chun’s favourite moment during the early weeks of preparation was when the team began to see what the memorials needed to sound like. Chun explained that ‘when we began, the memorials sounded a bit like an essay, and then with Tash’s feedback and Peter’s feedback we started to understand what the memorials should sound like, and for that to click was a great moment’.
Lily explained the team’s excitement at discovering that something they had read weeks earlier was the exact source needed for a proposition they wanted to make, and that when looking for opinio juris at 3 am in judgments only available in French she gained an appreciation of the team’s ability to find anything if they worked hard enough. In fact, one of the most useful things the team gained from the experience were improved research skills because, as Lily emphasised, ‘it’s going to help in any unit and in any professional setting’.
After the written memorials were handed in, the team participated in daily practice moots with academics, past Jessup mooters and members of the profession. A highlight for the team was a Skype moot with Dr Lionel Nichols (a UTAS and Jessup Alumni who is now a partner at a leading UK litigation firm), which Chun emphasised was particularly valuable.
Ella’s favourite moment was:
in the quarterfinals when you could tell that the judge wasn’t asking questions from the bench book but had picked up on something really interesting in the argument and really wanted to have a discussion on whether the law should end where humanity ends, or whether in fact we can improve our lives through technology and the law should follow that.
Nick and Eli emphasised that it was amazing to see Chun handle a particularly tough line of questioning, as she was able to recite the details of ICSID arbitrators’ career histories dating back to the 1990s. Nick also stated how satisfying it was ‘seeing the research from the late nights reflected in the answers that Ella and Chun gave to questions during the moots’.
On the final night of the competition the team attended a Gala at the High Court of Australia, which Lily said was ‘definitely one of the highlights because we were able to mingle with all of our friends and express our appreciation to the judges and organisers for all of the work they put in’.
The team highly recommend the Jessup moot competition to other students, particularly those who are interested in working with unsettled areas of law. The team also emphasised that even if someone does not have a particular interest in international law they should still consider doing Jessup as it is a fantastic experience that will be ‘the highlight of their law degree’.
By Sylvia Lawrence