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23rd Vienna Vis Moot

DSC_0060The problem for the 23rd Vis Moot was distributed early October and IDA’s team of eight students has begun work on the case. It relates to a dispute arising under a contract for the sale of wine following termination of the contract by the seller. The buyer seeks damages in arbitration subject to the VIAC international arbitrational rules for legal costs incurred under a contingency fee agreement to obtain an injunction preventing seller from distributing wine allegedly already sold to buyer, and to defend against seller’s action in court seeking a declaration of non-liability, despite presence of an arbitration clause in the sales contract!

The buyer also requests the Arbitral Tribunal to order seller to produce certain documents to help buyer calculate damages based on profits seller supposedly made from the breach by selling bottles to another client at a higher price (disgorgement of profits made by the breaching party).

Granting the order for document production is problematic since the arbitration clause provides that “no discovery shall be allowed.”

IDA professors have already given the students introductory and advanced lectures on international arbitration and the CISG, and lectures on how to proceed with their research in their study of the case. The coaches are impressed with the overall quality of each team member’s English. This ability to write and speak very good English will be a great asset for the drafting of the memoranda and the development of their advocacy skills.

This year, the schedule for the Willem Vis C. Moot is particularly tight: memorandum for claimant is due December 10 and memorandum for respondent January 19. Pleadings in Vienna begin March 18, the general rounds of argument being from Saturday 19 until Wednesday March 22. At some point, coaches will pick a team of four pleaders for Vienna but all the participants will get a chance to plead in at least one and perhaps two of the international pre-moots.

The team will participate, in praesentia, in at least two international pre-moots: one organized by Montpellier Law Faculty and one by Edinburgh University Law School. Finance permitting, IDA is also hoping to take part in the Lazareff-Lebars international pre-moot in Paris, which IDA’s team won last year. There will probably be pre-moots on skype with Sidney University and Stanford Law School or Uppsala Universitët. Teams and coaches find international pre-moots with prestigious institutions from the English-speaking world most gratifying and extremely fruitful.

Academics and coaches feel that the skills already shown by the team, their motivation and dedication bode well for the hard work lying ahead.

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Louise Tonin, Lisa Petitjean, Sophie Jin, Antonia Teleman, Pauline Demirdjibashian, Charlotte Pineau, Julie Guinamard and the young man in mid-air is Ilya Vaneev

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Looking back on the 22nd Vis Moot and looking forward to the 23rd Vis Moot

Another year of excellence for IDA mootees! The team of nine should feel very proud of their overall achievement:  they researched and drafted two excellent memoranda in English, worked on new areas of the law including ICC arbitral procedure, the UCP 600 rules on letters of credit and the CISG, took first prize in two international pre-Moots (Edinburgh University and Lazareff-Lebars law firm in Paris), and finally won a fiercely disputed round against one of the most prestigious law schools in the world, Stanford University Law School.

Taking part in the Vis Moot is more than simply a practical way of studying and learning. It is both active and creative, and above all a unique educational experience for the students who participate in it. The feedback, spontaneously sent from Vienna by some of them, precisely speak to the very essence of that particular experience.  Here, is what two of the team members, Clara Duc and Stephanie Elvinger wrote to one of the coaches:

“I feel that I have reached all the goals I had in September. It’s unbelievable to be able to make so much progress, starting from ground zero! (…) Both pleadings in Paris against King’s College and the one here in Vienna were amazing experiences. I couldn’t believe I would be able to do that. “(Clara);

 “It was the hardest thing that I have ever done (…) I gained so much self-confidence. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be able to face an arbitral tribunal like the one on Monday (pleading against Stanford), and actually have fun fighting back every single one of their questions. I am convinced this is the most inspiring experience of my academic “career” and I hope that many more students can benefit from it in the next years.” (Stephanie).

It must be said that for all their ability, dedication and the quality of their work the team did not reach the finals. However, when all the results (memoranda and pleadings) are put together, it appears that the overall scores achieved are the highest ones since IDA entered the competition.

The six coaches (all practicing lawyers and native speakers of English for the most part and an English language coach) who work with a new team every year, are now eagerly waiting to meet the new students for the presentation of the 23rd Vis Moot scheduled for September 25th at 2 PM.

William Peterson, Peter McQueen FCI Arb.

(Article drafted with assistance of fellow coaches, notably Paul Desorgues)

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Mooting in Vienna

Thirteen students from IDA’s International Commercial Law Taught Master took part in the Twenty-first Annual Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, for which work started in early October in 2013 in Aix and finished mid-April 2014 in Vienna. The competition required students to prepare materials for a hypothetical international commercial law dispute and argue the case in Vienna against teams from all over the world. After the completion of two written briefs and a pre-moot in Montpelier, a team of seven pleaders was picked and entered an international pre-moot, hosted by the University of Edinburgh, including teams from Germany, Sweden and Switzerland. The four pleaders finally chosen to represent IDA argued in Vienna against two American teams in addition to an Australian and an Indian team, all native speakers of English.

Our pleaders did not reach the finals (64 teams out of approximately 300), but as one of them said “We gave it all we had “and, by and large, all produced their personal best on the day. They were competing against the best law schools world- wide, and it must be known that some of the most prestigious universities of the English-speaking world and former winners did not reach the finals either. “The Aix team made a really good impression”, as one neutral arbitrator reported. The six coaches (practitioners, arbitrators, alumni and English language specialists), who gave so much of their time and energy were unanimous in congratulating them on their commitment and work ethic.

Analyzing the case, writing two memos and pleading in Vienna is taking part in a very prestigious and demanding world-wide competition which is inevitably about achieving the highest standards possible. However, it is also about a memorable educational experience for our students, as the following comments from some of them clearly demonstrate:

It offers a unique possibility… to gain valuable experience in the practice of law and arbitration. Pleading  teaches the participants how to structure legal arguments in the most convincing and persuasive way as well as handling unexpected and complex situations in front of a tribunal…The experience is about dedication and passion.” Pierre Bethemont.(21st Moot)

The Moot was probably the best experience of my life: a lot of working nights, but also a lot of fun nights. There’s one thing I will never forget: it’s all about pace.” Laura Bongiorno (21st Moot)

“People don’t believe you when you say it really changes your life.” Clément Hurstel  (20th Moot).

“Reflecting on my five-year law curriculum, I think the Moot has been by far the most thrilling experience I have known. It has helped me to strengthen my legal analysis, my writing and oral skills and, most importantly, it has introduced me to a global network of lawyers and provided me with insights into the professional world of arbitration.” Claire Morat-Levrin (21st Moot)

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