For the 25th consecutive year, Deakin law students have competed in the in the prestigious Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot with fourth-year student Erin Ritchie taking out an honourable mention for best speaker.
The Vis Moot competition is run annually in Vienna and Hong Kong and Deakin is one of only five universities, from more than 360 global competitors, that has participated in each year of its history.
Deakin has a strong track record of success at the Vis Moot. It is one of only four universities worldwide to win the Vienna rounds twice (1999 and 2014), was a grand finalist in Hong Kong twice, and last year took out number one placing, from 125 participating teams, in the general Hong Kong rounds.
Ten Deakin law students were part of the 2018 Vis Moot preparation with five selected to represent the university in Vienna and Hong Kong (as below).
Left to right: Pavan Swamy, Erin Ritchie, Nas Abdulla, Emma Genovese, Emma Dixon
Erin Ritchie’s accolade was the outcome of her outstanding performance at the Vis East Moot in Hong Kong.
‘It was an honour to represent Deakin at the competition and I was very grateful to receive this award,’ she says.
While the team didn’t make this year’s elimination rounds, academic coach Dr Shu Zhang says all the team members put in an impressive performance.
‘They illustrated their capacity and performed well by presenting sophisticated arguments and handling difficult questions in confidence. They also demonstrated great teamwork by supporting each other in and outside the courtroom. The feedback from many judges acknowledged that our performance was outstanding.’
Dr Zhang says the Vis Moot is considered a unique experience for law students across the globe.
‘They are expected to deal with a “real” case in the context of international trade, involving the application of the international contract and the practice of international commercial arbitration … this includes drafting a memoranda for both claimant and respondent in each case, and presenting this in 30 minutes before a tribunal of three legal experts,’ she explains.
‘It demands a lot of work in the months before and involves competing with some of the most intelligent and hard-working law students in the world. Team-work, multi-tasking, leadership and time-management are all crucial.’
Team member Emma Genovese says participating in the 2018 Vis Moot was a life-changing encounter.
‘Not only have I made new friends but I have a new sense of confidence in myself and my ability to maintain a high level of work ethic. And even though it was one of the most stressful experiences in my life to date, I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a challenge.’
Pavan Swamy agrees that while competing in the Vis Moot was highly challenging it was also very rewarding.
‘The magnitude of the Vis Moot really hit me at the opening ceremony in Vienna as I looked out the 3000 students, coaches and arbitrators packed inside the Wiener Konzerthaus. It was proof that there were 366 law schools from around the globe that had been working on the same problem over the last six months,’ he recalls.
As coach of the team and unit chair, Dr Zhang’s role included extensive academic supervision and administrative support for the team.
‘I provided the students fundamental information sessions about international contract law and international commercial arbitration and training and guidance on legal research and legal writing. This also included organising regular team meetings and discussions, intensive memo-drafting sessions, and over 50 practice rounds,’ she says.
Dr Zhang says it was an honour to have Duncan Travis (Deakin Vis Moot alumnus and partner at Allens) and Professor Jeffery Waincymer (Deakin’s former Vis Moot coach) on the coaching board as well as special assistance from Andrea Anastasi (2016 Vis Moot alumnus) and other alumni.
‘Their contribution was enormous and they provided invaluable encouragement and support by supervising the team and sharpening each member’s legal and advocacy skills. Deakin Law School is looking forward to continued participation in the Vis Moot, it’s an eye-opening event and unique learning experience that benefits everyone who participates in it.’