Moot court is an extracurricular activity at many law schools in which participants take part in simulated court or arbitration proceedings, usually involving drafting memorials or memoranda and participating in oral argument. In most countries, the phrase "moot court" may be shortened to simply "moot" or "mooting". Participants are either referred to as "mooters" or, less conventionally, "mooties".
Moot court involves a simulated appellate court (appellate advocacy) or arbitral case, which is different from a mock trial that involves a simulated jury trial or bench trial (trial advocacy). Moot court does not involve actual testimony by witnesses, cross-examination, or the presentation of evidence, but is focused solely on the application of the law to a common set of evidentiary assumptions, facts, and clarifications/corrections to which the competitors are introduced. Though not a moot in the traditional sense, alternative dispute resolution competitions focusing on mediation and negotiation have also branded themselves as moot competitions in recent times, as had role-playing competitions in the past.
Moot court is one of the key extracurricular activities in many law schools (the others being law review and clinical work) around the world. Depending on the competition, students may spend a semester researching and writing the written submissions or memorials, and another semester practicing their oral arguments, or may prepare both within the span of a few weeks. Whereas domestic moot court competitions tend to focus on municipal law such as criminal law or contract law, regional and international moot competitions tend to focus on cross-border subjects such as public international law, international human rights law, international humanitarian law, international criminal law, international trade law, international maritime law, international commercial arbitration, and foreign direct investment arbitration. Procedural issues pertaining to jurisdiction, standing, and choice of law are also occasionally engaged, especially in arbitration moots.
In most moot court competitions, each side is represented by two speakers or oralists (though the entire team composition may be larger) and a third member, sometimes known as of counsel, may be seated with the speakers. Each speaker usually speaks between 10 and 25 minutes, covering one to three main issues. After the main submissions are completed, there will usually be a short round of rebuttal and even surrebuttal. Depending on the format of the moot, there may be one or two rounds of rebuttal and surrebuttal, and communications between speakers may or may not be prohibited. Throughout the course of the submissions, judges may ask questions, though in some competitions questions are reserved to the end of submissions. In larger competitions, teams have to participate in up to ten rounds; the knockout/elimination stages are usually preceded by a number of preliminary rounds to determine seeding (power seeding is often used). Teams almost always must switch sides (applicant/appellant/claimant on one side, and respondent on the other) throughout a competition, and, depending on the format of the moot, the moot problem usually remains the same throughout. The scores of the written submissions are taken into consideration for most competitions to determine qualification (whether for the competition or for the knockouts) and seeding, and sometimes even up to a particular knockout stage.
International moot court competitions
International moot competitions are generally targeted at students (including postgraduates) and only allow participants who have not qualified to practice law in any jurisdiction. However, there are a handful of international moot competitions that are targeted at newly qualified lawyers, such as the ECC-SAL Moot, which is a regional moot started in 2012 and is jointly organised by Essex Court Chambers and the Singapore Academy of Law, and the New South Wales Young Laywers/CIArb competition.
The first table below lists some of the more notable international moot competitions for students, the second table lists the champions and finalists for the major or grand slam competitions, while the third and final table lists the champions and finalists for the minors and regionals. Major or grand slam international moots typically refer to class-leading moots or those that attract a substantial number of teams, while smaller or less established and region-only competitions are known as minors and regionals respectively; "international" class moots are sandwiched between grand slams and minors and regionals in terms of scale and prestige. Some countries also divide competitions into various tiers of prestige for the purpose of awarding points in league tables, with moots such as the Jessup and Vis competitions being considered as belonging to the highest tier.
List of notable competitions
|Competition||Established||Class||Primary subject matter||Record annual participation (year)||Location of international finals||National or regional rounds||Most (international) championships|
|Philip C Jessup||1960 (1968 for international rounds)||Major/grand slam||Public international law||645 teams (2017)||Washington D.C.||Yes||University of Sydney (5)|
|Willem C Vis||1993||Major/grand slam||International commercial arbitration||407 teams (2019)||Vienna||No||University of Ottawa (3)|
|Willem C Vis (East)||2003||Major/grand slam||International commercial arbitration||128 teams (2017)||Hong Kong||No||* Loyola Law School (2) |
* West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (2)
|Price Media Law||2007||Major/grand slam||International media law||140 teams (2012)||Oxford||Yes||Singapore Management University (3)|
|International Criminal Court||2005 (2007 for international rounds)||Major/grand slam||International criminal law||112 teams (2016)||The Hague||Yes||* Singapore Management University (3) |
* Leiden University (3)
|Frankfurt Investment Arbitration||2007||Major/grand slam||International investment arbitration||66 teams (2017)||Frankfurt||Yes||University of Miami (2)|
|Sir Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot||1992 (1993 for international rounds)||Major/grand slam||Space law||74 teams (2017)||Varies||Yes||* George Washington University (3) |
* National Law School of India University (3)
|Oxford Intellectual Property Law||2003||International||Intellectual property law||66 teams (2018)||Oxford||Qualification by written submissions||Queensland University of Technology (3)|
|Sarin Air Law||2010||International||Aviation law||41 teams (2018)||Varies||Yes||?|
|Fletcher||2016||International||International insolvency law||28 teams (2020)||Varies||Qualification by written submissions||3-way tie|
|John Jackson WTO||2002||International||World Trade Organization law||99 teams (2018)||Geneva||Yes||University of Melbourne (3)|
|Foreign Direct Investment International Arbitration||2008||International||Investor-state dispute settlement||Varies||Yes||Murdoch University (2)|
|Nuremberg||2014||International||International criminal law||160 teams (2019)||Nuremberg||No||* University of Maastricht (2) |
* National University of Singapore (2)
|LAWASIA||2005||Regional||International commercial arbitration (since 2011)||41 teams (2018)||Varies||Yes||Singapore Management University (4)|
|Red Cross (Asia-Pacific) IHL||2003 (2004 for international rounds)||Regional||International humanitarian law||120 teams (2019)||Hong Kong||Yes||Victoria University of Wellington (2)|
|WTO/FTA (Asian WTO)||2010 (2015 for international rounds)||Regional||World Trade Organization law||35 teams (2017)||Seoul||Qualification by written submissions||* Seoul National University (1) |
* Singapore Management University (1)
|Asian Law Students' Association||2008||Regional||Varies||44 teams (2018)||Varies||Qualification by written submissions||Singapore Management University (2)|
|ELSA European Human Rights||2012||Regional||European Convention on Human Rights||Strasbourg||Qualification by written submissions|
|African Human Rights||1992||Regional||Human rights in Africa||Varies within Africa||No||* University of Pretoria (5)|
* University of Cocody (5)
|International Maritime Law Arbitration||2000||Minor||International maritime law||31 teams (2019)||Varies||No||University of Queensland (9)|
|International Moot Competition on Maritime Arbitration||2010||Regional||International maritime law||Odessa||No|
|World Human Rights||2009||Regional||International human rights law||Pretoria||Yes|
|Telders||1977||Regional||Public international law||30 teams||The Hague||Yes|
|Asia Cup||1999||Regional||Public international law||40 teams (2011)||Tokyo||Qualification by written submissions||National University of Singapore (6)|
|Hague Choice of Court Convention||2014||Minor||Private international law||12 teams (2015)||Varies||Yes||Singapore Management University (1)|
|International Law Youth for Peace||2006||Minor||International humanitarian law||35 teams||Minsk||No|
|Private Law||2014||Minor||Australian private law||17 teams (2018)||Sydney||No||University of New South Wales (2)|
|HSF Competition Law||2015||Minor||Competition law||29 teams (2018)||London||Qualification by written submissions||* University of Hong Kong (2)|
|Nelson Mandela Moot||2009||Minor||International human rights law||164 teams (2018)||Geneva||Qualification by written submissions|
|DM Harish||2000 (2005 for international teams)||Minor||Public international law||40 teams||Mumbai||No|
|Stetson||1995||Minor||International environmental law||80 teams (2016)||Gulfport||Yes|
|Pan-Asian Human Rights||2017||Regional||International human rights law||8 teams (2017)||Hong Kong||Qualification by written submissions||University of the Philippines (1)|
List of champions and first runners-up for major or grand slam competitions
|Year||Jessup||Vis||Vis East||Price||Frankfurt Investment||International Criminal Court||Space (Lachs)|
|2019||Eötvös Loránd University/Columbia University||Pennsylvania State University/University of Ottawa||Universiteit van Amsterdam/Jindal Global Law School||University of the Philippines/National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy||Moscow State Institute of International Relations/University of Vienna||Leiden University/Honorable Society of the King's Inns||University of Ljubljana/University of Calabar|
|2018||University of Queensland/National Law School of India University||National Research University – Higher School of Economics/Cambridge University||ILS Law College/Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg||University of San Carlos/Singapore Management University||National University of Singapore/University of Ljubljana||Singapore Management University/West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences||University of Pretoria/Symbiosis International University|
|2017||University of Sydney/Norman Manley Law School||University of Ottawa/Jindal Global Law School||West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences/Nalsar University of Law||Singapore Management University/University of Oxford||Singapore Management University/Gujarat National Law University||Leiden University/Singapore Management University||National Law School of India University/University of Mississippi|
|2016||University of Buenos Aires/University of Pennsylvania||University of Buenos Aires/Singapore Management University||Chinese University of Hong Kong/Singapore Management University||Singapore Management University/Jindal Global Law School||Bucerius Law School/National University of Singapore||Singapore Management University/University of Cologne||National and Kapodistrian University, Athens/Obafemi Awolowo University|
|2015||University of Sydney/Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile||University of Ottawa/Singapore Management University||Singapore Management University/University of Arizona||University of the Philippines/Singapore Management University||Jindal Global Law School/Singapore Management University||Singapore Management University/Leiden University||University of Mississippi/National and Kapodistrian University of Athens|
|2014||University of Queensland/Singapore Management University||Deakin University/National Law School of India University||Loyola University Chicago/Universiteit van Amsterdam||Jindal Global Law School/University of Oxford||University of Miami–Sciences Po||National Law University, Delhi/Hebrew University||National Law University, Delhi/Florida State University|
|2013||National Law School of India University/Singapore Management University||City University of Hong Kong/Monash University||University of Canberra/University of Münster||National Law University, Delhi/Regent University||Stockholm University/Peking University||Leiden University/Osgoode Hall Law School||Georgetown University/Leiden University|
|2012||Moscow State University/Columbia University||Nalsar University of Law/University College London||City University of Hong Kong/University of Houston||Nalsar University of Law/University of Technology Sydney||Norman Manley Law School/University of Versailles||City University of Hong Kong/Kaplan Law School||National Law School of India University/National and Kapodistrian University of Athens|
|2011||University of Sydney/Columbia University||University of Ottawa/University of Montevideo||Bond University/City University of Hong Kong||Belgrade Law School/Cardozo School of Law||University of Miami/Graduate Institute Geneva||Bond University||Florida State University/National University of Singapore|
|2010||Australian National University/Columbia University||King's College London/University of Ottawa||Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg/Deakin University||Singapore Management University/Cardozo School of Law||Georgetown University/George Washington University||Osgoode Hall Law School||George Washington University/National University of Singapore|
|2009||Universidad de los Andes/University College London||Victoria University of Wellington/University of Pune||Loyola Law School/Stetson University||Cardozo School of Law/BPP Law School||La Trobe University/City University of Hong Kong||Bond University||National Law School of India University/Georgetown University|
|2008||Case Western Reserve University/University of New South Wales||Carlos III University of Madrid/Touro Law Center||Griffith University||International Islamic University of Malaysia/?||Martin Luther University/St Gallen University||NA||University of New South Wales/University of Augsburg|
|2007||University of Sydney/King's College London||Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg/University of Zagreb||Pepperdine University School of Law/Monash University||University of Pretoria||George Washington University/University of Queensland|
|2006||Columbia University/Universidad Católica Andrés Bello||Queen Mary/Stetson University||Loyola Law School/Deakin University||University of Auckland/McGill University|
|2005||University of Queensland/International Islamic University of Malaysia||Stetson University/University of Vienna||West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences/University of Houston||George Washington University/National University of Singapore|
|2004||Ateneo Law School/National University of Singapore||Osgoode Hall Law School/Victoria University of Wellington||Tsinghua University/Loyola University Chicago||Leiden University/Georgetown University|
|2003||University of Western Australia/Mari State University||West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences/Humboldt University||University of Auckland/Georgetown University|
|2002||University of the Witwatersrand/University of Western Australia||National University of Singapore/University of Queensland||Georgetown University/University of New South Wales|
|2001||National University of Singapore/Universidad Católica Andrés Bello||Monash University/University of Cologne||National University of Singapore/University of North Carolina|
|2000||University of Melbourne/Universidad Católica Andrés Bello||University of Queensland/Loyola Law School||University of Paris XI/Hamline University|
|1999||National Law School of India University/University of Pretoria||Deakin University/Tulane University||Vanderbilt University/University of Paris XI|
|1998||Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México/Australian National University||University of Münster/University of Queensland||University of North Carolina/University of Helsinki|
|1997||Universidad Católica Andrés Bello/University of Calgary||University of Queensland/University of Cologne||University of Paris XI/University of North Carolina|
|1996||University of Sydney/National University of Singapore||Cornell University/Deakin University||University of Helsinki/University of Wyoming|
|1995||University of the Philippines/University of Western Australia||Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg/University of Nottingham||University of North Carolina/Leiden University|
|1994||National University of Singapore/University of Melbourne||Columbia University/Laval University||Marshall University/University of Helsinki|
|1993||University of Melbourne/University of Hawaii||Leiden University/George Washington University|
|1992||Universite de Paris I/National University of Singapore|
|1991||University of Saskatchewan/University of Georgia|
|1990||University of Georgia/University of Toronto|
|1989||University of British Columbia/University of Melbourne|
|1988||University of Melbourne/National University of Singapore|
|1987||Georgetown University/Katholieke Universiteit Leuven|
|1986||Boston College/National University of Singapore|
|1985||National University of Singapore/Southwestern University|
|1984||Dalhousie University/South Texas College of Law|
|1983||University of Kansas/National University of Singapore|
|1982||National University of Singapore/University of the Pacific|
|1981||Australian National University/University of the Pacific|
|1980||Georgetown University/National University of Singapore|
|1979||Northwestern University/University of Adelaide|
|1978||Brooklyn Law School/University of Toronto|
|1977||University of Kansas/University of Toronto|
|1976||University of Toronto/American University|
|1975||Cambridge University/Georgetown University|
|1974||University of Texas/Haile Selassie I University|
|1973||West Virginia University/Brunel University|
|1972||University of Miami/Haile Selassie I University|
|1971||University of Texas/University of California|
|1970||University of Miami/University of Kentucky|
|1969||Rutgers University |
University of Michigan
|1968||Duke University/University of Miami|
|1967||Vanderbilt University/Harvard Law School|
|1966||University of Texas/University of Wisconsin|
|1965||Columbia University/University of Virginia|
|1964||University of Texas/University of Pittsburgh|
|1963||Columbia University/University of North Carolina|
List of champions and first runners-up for internationals and minors/regionals
|Year||LAWASIA||IHL Asia-Pacific||Asia Cup||Maritime||IP||Fletcher||Sarin Air||Asian LSA|
|2019||NA||Peking University/Singapore Management University||University of the Philippines/Russian State University of Justice||University of Queensland/University of Sydney||City, University of London/University of Ottawa||National Law Institute University/University of British Columbia||National University of Singapore/Leiden University||NA|
|2018||University of Malaya/National University of Singapore||Gujarat National Law University/University of New South Wales||National University of Singapore/University of Malaya||University of Queensland/University of Hong Kong||University of New South Wales/University of Cambridge||University of British Columbia/University of Queensland||Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law/Singapore Management University||NA|
|2017||Singapore Management University/Universiti Teknologi MARA||Bond University/University of Hong Kong||National University of Singapore/Thammasat University||National University of Singapore/University of Queensland||Bucerius Law School/University of Toronto||Singapore Management University/National University of Singapore||National University of Singapore/West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences||Singapore Management University/Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University|
|2016||Singapore Management University/West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences||Queensland University of Technology/Singapore Management University||National University of Singapore/Ateneo Law School||University of Sydney/Singapore Management University||University of Ottawa/National Law School of India University||Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University/National University of Singapore||Universitas Indonesia/National University of Singapore|
|2015||Advance Tertiary College/National Law University, Jodhpur||Victoria University of Wellington/University of Hong Kong||University of Malaya/Singapore Management University||National University of Singapore/University of Hong Kong||National Law School of India University/Monash University||University of Queensland/National Law School of India University||Universitas Indonesia/Hidayatullah National Law University|
|2014||Singapore Management University/Chinese University of Hong Kong||University of Adelaide/National Law University, Jodhpur||Singapore Management University/Universitas Padjadjaran||Universitas Indonesia/Maastricht University||University of Hong Kong/University of Toronto||Leiden University/||Singapore Management University/Chinese University of Hong Kong|
|2013||Singapore Management University/Taylor's University||National Law University, Delhi/Australian National University||Ateneo Law School/Singapore Management University||University of Queensland/National University of Singapore||University of Ottawa/National Law University, Delhi||NA|
|2012||Chinese University of Hong Kong/Singapore Management University||University of Hong Kong/University of Melbourne||Ateneo Law School/Singapore Management University||University of Queensland/Queensland University of Technology||Queensland University of Technology/University of Oxford|
|2011||Advance Tertiary College/Singapore Management University||Victoria University of Wellington/Hidayatullah National Law University||Singapore Management University/Ateneo Law School||Murdoch University/University of Southampton||London School of Economics/University of Hong Kong||McGill University/|
|2010||National Law University, Delhi/Advance Tertiary College||University of Hong Kong/Universiti Utara Malaysia||Singapore Management University/Universitas Pelita Harapan||National University of Singapore/Murdoch University||Boston University/Queensland University of Technology||Leiden University/McGill University|
|2009||Advance Tertiary College/Singapore Management University||Universitas Indonesia/Gujarat National Law University||University of the Philippines/Kathmandu School of Law||University of Queensland/Universitas Indonesia||Queensland University of Technology/University of Edinburgh||Peking University/Singapore Management University|
|2008||University of Hong Kong/University of the Philippines||National University of Singapore/Multimedia University||Ateneo Law School/University of Hong Kong||University of Queensland/University of Notre Dame Australia||National University of Singapore/University of British Columbia|
|2007||University of Hong Kong/Taylor's University||University of Sydney/University of Hong Kong||University of the Philippines/Chulalongkorn University||Universitas Indonesia/Victoria University||Queensland University of Technology/George Mason University|
|2006||NA||University of Queensland/University of Hong Kong||Universitas Indonesia/University of Malaya||Queensland University of Technology/University of Southampton||National University of Singapore/University of Oxford|
|2005||University of Hong Kong/University of Western Australia||University of the Philippines/University of the Philippines||National University of Singapore/Universitas Indonesia||University of Queensland/University of Hong Kong||University of Birmingham/University of Sheffield|
|2004||National University of Singapore/University of Hong Kong||National University of Singapore/Universitas Indonesia||University of Technology Sydney/National University of Singapore||University College Dublin/University of Cambridge|
|2003||University of the Philippines||University of Queensland/National Law School of India University||King's College London/University of Westminster|
|2002||Ateneo Law School||University of Queensland/University of Hong Kong|
|2001||National University of Singapore||National University of Singapore/University of Technology Sydney|
|2000||University of the Philippines||National University of Singapore|
|1999||Ateneo Law School|
Most number of international championships in a season
- 5: Singapore Management University, 2014/15 (Asia Cup, Hague Convention, LawAsia, Vis East, ICC)
- 5: Singapore Management University, 2016/17 (Fletcher, Frankfurt, LawAsia, Price, Asian LSA)
- 4: National University of Singapore, 2000/01 (Asia Cup, Lachs, Maritime, Jessup)
- 4: National University of Singapore, 2016/17 (Asia Cup, Air Law, Maritime, Private Law)
- 3: Singapore Management University, 2015/16 (Price, ICC, WTO/FTA)
- 3: Leiden University, 2012/13 (ICC, ELMC, Telders)
- 3: National University of Singapore, 2014/15 (DM Harish, Jean Pictet, Maritime)
Most number of international championship finals in a season
- 9: Singapore Management University, 2015/16 (WTO/FTA, Private Law, Maritime, Asia Cup, Vis East, Vis, Price, IHL, ICC)
- 8: Singapore Management University, 2014/15 (Hague Convention, Asia Cup, LawAsia, Vis East, Vis, Frankfurt, Price, ICC)
- 6: Singapore Management University, 2016/17 (LawAsia, Fletcher, Frankfurt, Price, ICC, Asian LSA)
- 6: National University of Singapore, 2016/17 (Asia Cup, Air Law, Maritime, Pan Asian Human Rights, Private Law, HSF Competition Law)
Most number of major or grand slam international championships in a season
- 2: University of Buenos Aires, 2015/16 (Jessup, Vis)
- 2: National University of Singapore, 2000/01 (Jessup, Lachs)
- 2: Singapore Management University, 2014/15 (ICC, Vis East)
- 2: Singapore Management University, 2015/16 (ICC, Price)
- 2: Singapore Management University, 2017/18 (Frankfurt, Price)
- 2: National Law University, Delhi, 2013/14 (ICC, Lachs)
Most number of major or grand slam international championship finals in a season
Teams that have successfully defended a major or grand slam international championship
Mooters with multiple international championships
At least two majors or grand slams
At least one major or grand slam
- Lucas Bastin, University of Sydney: WTO'2006; IHL'2007; Jessup'2007
- Mark Lawrence Badayos, University of San Carlos: Stetson'2016; Price'2018
- Emily Chalk, University of Queensland: Maritime'2013; Jessup'2014
- Bethel Chan, Singapore Management University: Asia Cup'2014; Vis East'2015 (also Vis'2015 finalist and Essex-SAL'2017 champion)
- Chang Zi Qian, Singapore Management University: Price'2010; Youth for Peace'2011
- Foo Shi Hao, Singapore Management University: LawAsia'2013; ICC'2015
- Eden Li, Singapore Management University: Asia Cup'2014; Vis East'2015 (also Vis'2015 finalist and Essex-SAL'2017 finalist)
- Odette Murray, University of Sydney: IHL'2007; Jessup'2007
- Nicolette Oon, Singapore Management University: Asia Cup'2014; Vis East'2015 (also Vis'2015 finalist)
- Dhruv Sharma, National Law University, Delhi: IHL'2013; ICC'2014
- Eric Shi, University of Sydney: Maritime'2016; Jessup'2017
- Grace Sim, Singapore Management University: LawAsia'2014; Vis East'2015 (also Vis'2015 finalist)
- Kabir Singh, National University of Singapore: Jessup'2001; Asia Cup'2001
- Jerald Soon, Singapore Management University: Asia Cup'2014; Vis East'2015 (also Vis'2015 finalist)
- Harry Stratton, University of Sydney: Maritime'2016; Jessup'2017
- Tan Jun Hong, Singapore Management University: Asian LSA'2014; Asia Cup'2014; Vis East'2015 (also Vis'2015 finalist, Essex-SAL'2017 finalist, and CIArb/New South Wales Young Lawyers Moot'2018 champion)
- Tess Tan, University of San Carlos: Stetson'2016; Price'2018
- Nanthini Vijayakumar, Singapore Management University: LawAsia'2013; WTO/FTA'2015 (also Moot Shanghai'2014 finalist)
- Samuel Yap, Singapore Management University: LawAsia'2013; ICC'2015
Minors or regionals only
- Jeremiah Lau, National University of Singapore: DM Harish'2015; HSF Competition Law'2015
- Muz Omar, Singapore Management University: Asian LSA'2014; LawAsia'2014
- Ong Chee Yeow, National University of Singapore: Asia Cup '2016, IASLA Space '2016
- Ephraim Tan, National University of Singapore: Asia Cup '2016; IASLA Space '2016
Domestic moot court competitions
List of notable competitions
- Australian Law Students' Association
- Ames Moot Court Competition
- Conférence des avocats du barreau de Paris (litt. Paris Bar association conference)
- English Speaking Union Moot
- Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Moot Court Competition
- London Universities Mooting Shield
- New York City Bar Association National Moot Court Competition
Law schools structure their moot court programs differently. Some moot court organizations accept a small group of people for membership, and those members each participate in a number of national or regional moot court competitions. Other schools accept a larger number of members, and each member is matched with one competition. A few schools conduct moot court entirely intramurally. Moot court competitions are typically sponsored by organizations with interest in one particular area of law, and the moot court problems address an issue in that field. Competitions are often judged by legal practitioners with expertise in the particular area of law, or sometimes by sitting judges.
The basic structure of a moot court competition roughly parallels what would happen in actual appellate practice. Participants will typically receive a problem ahead of time, which includes the facts of the underlying case, and often an opinion from a lower court that is being challenged in the problem. Students must then research and prepare for that case as if they were lawyers or advocates for one or sometimes both of the parties. Depending on the competition, participants will be required to submit written briefs, participate in oral argument, or both. The case or problem is often one of current interest, sometimes mimicking an actual case, and sometimes fabricated to address difficult legal issues.
A number of moot court competitions focus on specific areas of law. For example, the First Amendment Center annually holds a National First Amendment Moot Court Competition, in which the judges have included numerous United States Circuit Court judges.
The American Collegiate Moot Court Association
In the United States, undergraduates experience moot court in a variety of disciplines and a variety of settings. The most common are in-class exercises that are assigned by professors. Other schools actually form competitive teams. These teams often compete in intramural events, some in statewide competitions, or they can enter tournaments sponsored by the American Moot Court Association (AMCA). While undergraduate moot court is still a relatively new forensics activity when compared with debate and intercollegiate mock trial, by 2010, there were 248 teams who competed at the regional tournaments. In 2019 there were more than 500 teams competing in 13 different regional tournaments to gain bids to the AMCA National Competition, which has 80 teams competing every year. Teams are awarded bids either through the regional tournaments themselves, or through "open, at large bids," which are usually awarded to 7-8 each year. If a regional tournament is awarded 5 bids, then the top 5 teams with the highest ballot counts at that regional are awarded bids. The only teams guaranteed bids are teams that make it to the finals of their regional. Schools can earn more than eight bids to Nationals, but can only field eight. The qualifying tournaments are held during the fall semester, most are in November, and the championship tournament is in mid-January.
All ACMA tournaments, including invitationals, regionals, and nationals, have three preliminary rounds in the first day of competition where all the teams that enter compete. In the second day, teams that "break" move on to a series of single elimination rounds. The number of teams that break varies depending on the invitational, but in regionals they are required to break to 16 teams and at nationals all teams that earn 3 ballots or more are required to break, which usually is around 40-45 teams.
Undergraduate moot court cases pose two certified questions. The case (known as the “record”) includes an appellate majority opinion and a dissent. Undergraduate Moot Court exists within a "closed universe," meaning that students can only reference statements from the listed cased directly or from in-case citations from those specific cases. Students cannot use anything from an in-case citation that is not from the opinion listed in the record. Typically, the record includes twenty opinions that students can rely upon for their arguments. All teams competing in AMCA-sponsored events will argue the same case. ACMA students have engaged in oral argument on issues such as same-sex marriage, national health care, privacy under the 4th Amendment, life terms for minors who are not guilty of murder or attempted murder, freedom of religion, a federal ban on firearms on school grounds, warrantless domestic wiretapping of suspected terrorists. More recently they have argued the constitutionality of: solitary confinement (8th amendment), memory-testing brain scans (5th amendment), male-preference university admissions, and university employment termination (1st amendment). Cases are written by AMCA and the case problem is released on their website.
Undergraduate moot court teams consist of two oral advocates. The advocates are responsible for knowing both issues – but typically are only asked about one certified question. Each team will receive 20 minutes to argue its case, and each advocate must speak for a minimum of seven minutes. Teams are judged on their forensics, knowledge of the law, demeanor, and ability to answer questions from the bench.
Good judges are the key to a good moot court hearing. Judges are typically lawyers or members of the state or federal bench. At times, law students (especially those with past undergraduate moot court experience) are asked to judge. Past judges at AMCA events have included former US Attorney General John Ashcroft and federal judges Otis Wright and George Schiavelli.
The ACMA also sponsors a brief writing contest. Students are not required to prepare briefs in order to compete for the oral advocacy national title. Teams who enter follow a specific set of rules and compete for prizes. The competition is judged by lawyers and law professors. This competition is named for the late Sandra Knerr, who along with her husband, was a dedicated supporter of intercollegiate moot court.
The courts systems differ in various parts of the United Kingdom. Thus, the style of a moot will often vary depending in which jurisdiction it is to be heard, although some national competitions do exist. The principal differences are between the laws in Scotland and those in England and Wales.
England and Wales
In England and Wales the moot will typically simulate proceedings in either the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court. Moot questions generally involve two questions of law that are under dispute and come with a set of facts about the case that have been decided at the first instance trial. Generally the question will surround a subject that is unclear under the present state of the law and for which no direct precedent exists. Mooting is a team effort, consisting of senior or lead counsel and junior counsel. It is normal practice for the senior counsel to take on the first point and the junior the second; although this may vary depending upon the exact nature, and necessary length, of the arguments. Typically the question will focus on one area of law, e.g. tort, contract, criminal law or property law.
The question will be provided to the teams a few weeks in advance of the moot along with details as to which of the appellant or respondent they are to represent. It is then up to each team to prepare their case as though they were barristers. Authority for each argument is necessary and will usually take the form of precedent from case law but may also involve legislation. Reliance may also be placed on governmental papers, research from NGOs and academic journals and texts.
A few days before the moot takes place each team will prepare and exchange their skeleton arguments or brief. Copies will also be provided to the judge along with the moot problem. The judge is normally an academic or practising solicitor or barrister. The moot itself takes the form of an oral argument. The competition may also allow the appellants an additional few minutes in order to reply to the respondents arguments. After the presentation of arguments has concluded, the judge will retire to deliberate on both the law and the overall winning of the moot. A moot is not won and lost on the legal argument, but on the advocacy skills of the participants. It is often the case that the team that has the weaker legal argument is in a better position as they have to argue that much more persuasively.
In Scotland a moot can be set in a variety of fora; in civil law problems it is set most commonly in either the Inner House of the Court of Session or in the House of Lords, although it is not uncommon for a moot to be heard in the Sheriff Court before the Sheriff or Sheriff Principal. Occasionally, an Employment Appeal Tribunal may also be used as a forum for a Scottish civil law moot. If the moot problem concerns Criminal Law, the moot will most likely be heard as though in the Appellate division of the High Court of Justiciary (commonly known as the Court of Criminal Appeal).
The moot points and style of the problem are similar to that of England and Wales stated above; however, the format of the moot is significantly different. Junior counsel is more likely to take the first moot point and senior counsel the second (this can however be reversed depending on the problem). The format of the moot is far more adversarial than that of English and Welsh moots. This is primarily due to a more adversarial legal system. This manifests itself in different ways, most notably with the appellants and respondents facing each other during a moot, rather than, as in England and Wales, facing the judge.
There is only one national Scottish competition, the Alexander Stone National Legal Debate, administered by the Law School at the University of Glasgow. All Scottish universities that offer the LL.B. are eligible to take part, although in recent years the competition has been fought out mainly between Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Strathclyde universities. The final is held in the Alexander Stone Court Room at the University of Glasgow in February or March each year. There are also several annual inter-varsity competitions between law schools, including the Glasgow Sheriff's Cup (the University of Glasgow v the University of Strathclyde) and the Granite City Moot (the University of Aberdeen v Robert Gordon University). These competitions are ordinarily judged by a Senator of the College of Justice.
Law schools also take part in UK-wide competitions, such as the Oxford University Press and the English Speaking Union Moot. These moots are UK-wide in participation, but typically follow the style and law of moots in England and Wales. The University of Glasgow reached the semi-final of the English Speaking Union moot in 2008 and the final in 2005. The University of Dundee reached the semi finals of The Oxford University Press moots in 2009.
Judges in Scottish moots are typically legal academics, solicitors, sheriffs, advocates or Senators of the College of Justice.
For Primary and Secondary Schools, the national Scottish Competitions are handled by the School Mock Court Case Project SCIO. During the 2018/2019 academic year the charity ran some 17 projects in Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Falkirk, Hamilton and Ayr involving circa 100 school and some 3,000 students. These trials are also heard in the Court of Session, High Court and the Sheriff Court
Surana and Surana International Attorneys have been conducting various moot competitions from mid 1990s including Surana & Surana International Technology Law Moot Court Competition, Surana & Surana National Corporate Law Moot Court Competition, and Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition.
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|Look up moot court in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
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