Historic Mooting Competition to be held in Barbados

An historic legal precedent will be set in Barbados next week when Cave Hill campus hosts the first ever moot competition between law students from the Caribbean and China.

The planned annual event which will be launched officially today, will see students from The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus, Faculty of Law compete against opponents from the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL). The preliminary rounds of the competition will be held at the Faculty of Law’s Moot Court Room on May 22-May 23 before the competition culminates on May 24 at the Barbados Supreme Court.

Mooting times for the inaugural Caribbean-China International Law Moot Court Competition are from 10:30-12:00 noon and 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. next Monday and Tuesday; and 2-4 p.m. on Wednesday. Members of the public, especially the legal profession, are invited.

Dean of the Faculty of Law, Dr. David Berry was given lead responsibility for the development of this initiative when it was tabled at the second annual board meeting of the Cave Hill campus-based Confucius Institute, held in Beijing last March. The launch coincides with the Confucius Institute’s third annual board meeting, being held in Barbados this month.

Noting the difference between mooting and debating, Dr. Berry explained: “Mooting is a rigorous exercise to train students in the art of effective advocacy.  Students are assigned roles based upon a fictional fact pattern (in the Compromis) and are required to research the law governing all of the issues raised.  They are provided with minimal assistance from their coaches, since the moot is meant to test the students’ work.”

“After researching the law the students must write formal legal submissions, called memorials, which summarise the relevant facts and present arguments on each of the issues raised.  These memorials are lengthy pieces of legal writing, tending to range from 30-50 pages.  The memorials of each team are submitted and marked, and then distributed to opposing teams prior to the oral rounds. “

Dr. Berry pointed out that during the oral rounds each team of two students has 45 minutes to present its case.  Their arguments must take into account the arguments raised in the opposing team’s memorial, as well as likely arguments or arguments actually made during the oral rounds.  Oral arguments are also strictly timed.  As a result students face the additional hurdle of concluding their presentations within time limits which do not stop or take into account judicial questioning, which may be extensive.  Judges are encouraged to actively question students on the law and the facts.

“Mooting tends to be more demanding than debating because it requires extensive research and application of the law to resolve complex fact patterns,” Dr. Berry stated. “As students advance in their training for their moot they come to understand the nuances of particular legal regimes, the fine points in the jurisprudence, and the strategies they will need to adopt in order to respond successfully to counter arguments and questions from the bench.”

“We expect this to be a vibrant, strongly competitive event.  Both institutions have fielded winning teams to international mooting competitions in the past, and we are certain that all of the students will excel in the present competition,” he added.