Taking the Alfred Deakin International Commercial Arbitration (ICA) Moot online presented its challenges, but the success of the competition has provided continuity in a disrupted year.
Mooting is one of the highlights of law study for many students. These courtroom or arbitration simulations bring teams of students from different universities together to compete against one another.
But, travel bans imposed to fight COVID have forced a rethink on how a moot competition can be run, with even interstate participation off limits.
Deakin Law School’s Alfred Deakin International Commercial Arbitration (ICA) moot has run since 2017 and is usually hosted at Deakin Downtown. During this time it has grown from a local, Melbourne contest to an event that attracts entries from around Australia and internationally.
The 2020 moot was set to be the biggest ever and, in spite of COVID, it delivered on that promise.
The organisers pivoted with alacrity to move event online, and took advantage of the virtual format to invite both teams and arbitrators from across the region.
Without constraints of time and travel costs, Deakin Law School was able to welcome some of Australia’s top practitioners and academics to act as arbitrators, as well as high-performing teams from 23 law schools from the APAC region, including two from India and one from New Zealand.
Moot organiser Linda Black said “We had to re-imagine the moot format to make sure we could continue to run a high quality competition within the constraints of an online meeting platform like Zoom. We were able to do it and ensure that even the social and networking opportunities of a typical moot were successfully integrated into our online version.”
The participants agree that the promise was fulfilled. Deakin participant, Simon Winiarski, said
The Alfred Deakin ICA Moot was an invaluable experience where I was able to enhance my skills in oral advocacy, thinking spontaneously, legally scrutinising a factual scenario, and my knowledge of international commercial arbitration law and procedure. Despite partaking in the moot online, this did not compromise the extensive and beneficial coaching and feedback I received from numerous arbitrators, members of the legal faculty, and Vis Moot alumni.
In spite of the major commitment required, he said, "The moot was also manageable with a full study load. I strongly believe the skills and experience which I attained will benefit me for a career in the legal profession and I would recommend this competition to all law students.”
The moot took place over five rounds culminating with the grand final, presided over by Professor Christopher Kee, Dean (Education) in the College of Business, Government and Law at Flinders University and Director of the Vis Moot, Vicky Priskich, National Councillor of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) and a Fellow of CIArb and Duncan Travis, Partner at Allens Linklaters, who was the prime sponsor of the moot.
The University of New South Wales emerged as winners with University of Queensland runners up. Members of the UNSW team, Leigh Gordon, Jason Dong and Chelsea Manansala each won a trophy and shared gift certificates valued at $1,000.
CIArb awarded a prize for best oralist in the Grand Final, a complimentary registration for their course, Introduction to International Arbitration. This prize was awarded to Jason Dong of UNSW.
Recognition was also given: to Grace Dickinson of University of Melbourne for best oralist in the preliminary rounds; best submission for the claimant to University of Queensland; and best submission for the respondent to Monash University. One of the Deakin teams made it through to the elimination rounds.
The competition is expected to continue to grow in 2021.