Willem C. Vis
The Willem C. Vis Moot always introduces a fictional case that hinges on matters of international sale, arbitration and the UN Convention on International Sale of Goods (CISG) (Weens Koopverdrag). This means you will represent both commercial parties in a dispute regarding sale before an arbitral tribunal, while basing your arguments on (among other legal instruments) the CISG. More than 330 universities from around the world participate in this competition, among which Yale, Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and many others.
For detailed information on the moot, please visit this website.
Phase I. Writing Memoranda October-January
During the first weeks you will be asked to develop strategies and theories, based on the facts of the case. In this time you can also expect exams on the facts and brainstorm session with practitioners and professors to develop your arguments.
Further, you will have to start writing the memorandum for claimant. The group will be divided into two, a procedural team and a merits team. Once the memorandum for Claimant has been submitted, the Willem C. Vis Moot organization will send the team a Claimant’ss memorandum from another university. This memo will have to answered to in a memorandum for Respondent by our team.
During this phase you are required to upload the memo every two weeks. This way, we can follow your progress and offer advice early on in the process. The coaches will give feedback on each memo twice. In addition there will be meetings with practitioners and professors to discuss your memoranda.
Phase II. Prepare for the pleadings January - March
During this phase we will start practicing your pleadings. We will meet every week for about 2.5 hours so everyone gets to plead at least once every week. In addition, we will choose several weekends in which we will attend pre-moots. These provide a unique opportunity to get a taste of what is awaiting in Vienna. Currently, the dates of the pre-moots are not yet available. We expect that they will become available early December.
Many universities organize pre-moots. These are indispensable for practicing your pleading skills. Most of the pre-moots take place from January until March. The administrator will present a plan regarding which moots the team aims to attend by the 14th of January. This plan will consist of an overview of the estimated costs. The coaches will then inquire about funding for the pre-moots whereas the teams are themselves responsible for the organization of hostels and transport. Note that the participation is essential to your practice and if we have the funding you are expected to participate. Below we cited some pre-moots that we can consider:
Time and effort
Per week you will have to spend an average of 8-10 hours on researching and preparing your arguments. Of course this may vary in weeks when you participate in pre-moots or when a deadline is due.
Especially during the first phase it is very important to share any and all information you found while researching your own topic. You will soon find that all topics are related to one another so that sharing your information is helping your team (sharing is caring). You can find out for yourself what you like best but create some type of Dropbox/Google Drive, in which all team members can contribute valuable sources.
You might think that after the memoranda have been written all research is finalized. You will find out however, that when you start the pre-moots other teams might surprise you with their arguments and you will have to pick up you research again to match or counter these other arguments.
All of this research and building of arguments will have to be done individually and in cooperation with the rest of your team.
This course is an elective course (5 ECTS) for all master students.
After the pleadings in Vienna each student will obtain a grade based on the participation during the written and the oral stage of the Moot.
Grades will be awarded according to the following standards
- Partial grade based on the quality of personal submissions exam (30 %). See also forms below.
- Partial grade based on group performance and cooperation with the Maritime Moot (30 %)
- Partial grade for quality of pleading (40 %)
Bachelor students are part of the team
This year you will also have the help of more mooties, namely bachelor students that take this on voluntarily. They will assist you in doing research, acquiring good sources and checking your written submissions on mistakes, structure and lay-out. Please keep in close contact with them and make sure you appreciate their work. It is a voluntary contribution they are willing to make for free, so it is important that we show them we appreciate their effort.
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'Joining the team is one of the best decisions I’ve made during my stay here. I was so lucky to be able to experience the six-month vis moot journey with my sweet and interesting teammates. What I got from the whole period definitely outweighed the time and effort I devoted.
The friendship formed within the team is the biggest gain to me. It’s never to be forgotten. The days and nights we spent in forming our strategies are to be treasured forever, even though it was so much pain when we couldn’t figure out a way to convince ourselves. I mostly remember the fun we had together in all the pre-moots.
From a practical perspective, taking part in the moot is a great chance to improve your skills to be an arbitration lawyer, either in writing memos or in pleadings. Those harsh arbitrators and difficult questions we encountered in all rounds add up together, increased my ability to deal with pressures from both inner and outer side. After the whole competition, I am more confident and learnt how to deal with challenges in life with a smile.
Besides the friendship and skills, the “journey” itself is indeed a journey. After the submission of respondent’s memorandum, the journey began. Amsterdam, Paris, London, Maastricht, Nijmegen, Vienna…, all these cities witnessed our growth. Although we didn’t make the finals in Vienna, the the preparation did carry us into the top 30%. We all believe that, if we could have had more budget and attended more pre-moots in the months leading up to the competition, we would definitely achieve an even better rank. This dream is left for next year’s team to fulfill.
The journey of Team 2017 is over; the journey of Team 2018 is just about to start. Make your decision and join us to be a member of the team and the great arbitration community. There are more achievements for you to accomplish; there are more pre-moots for you to explore; there is a life for you to experience.' - Meng Mao, Participant Willem C. Vis Moot 2017
"If you’re reading this report, you’re probably considering to apply for the 2018 Willem C Vis Moot at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. I am going to try and explain you why you should do so, and what you may expect from it.
Let’s start off by making one thing clear: When I started my LLM in Commercial & Company Law at the Erasmus University, I knew little about arbitration. Today, one year later, I couldn’t be happier about my decision to join the Vis Moot Team of 2016/2017.
In short, the Vis Moot has been one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences of my life. It has truly served as a springboard to “what was next”, that is, my professional life beyond university, by taking me into what the law means in practice. At the same time, it made it possible to build some lifelong friendships and to find invaluable connections all over the world.
All that came at the cost of a whopping amount of work. Be prepared: It may be too much to say that it was like attending a second master’s, but I think the truth is not that far.
The written phase (aka “The Memos”)
The Moot can be generally divided in two phases. The first one mainly involves written work and it kicks off on the first Thursday of October, when the Problem is published. “The Problem” is the case you will be involved with for the duration of the Moot. Also, it is the masterwork of some Machiavellian lawyer. You will like it, you will hate it. Perhaps it will haunt your dreams, but most importantly you will know it almost by heart. You will have to: you’re acting as an actual counsel representing an actual client, which means you need to master the facts of the case before anything else, as your factual knowledge will be inevitably tested.
The oral phase (aka “The Pleadings”)
Turning to the oral phase was a fresh start for me, for two main reasons.
Firstly, the work switched to prepare the pleading for the oral competition in Vienna. It was a thrilling task: we didn’t have to make the arguments anymore (though we kept thinking of new ones), we had to present them in a clear way, get ready to be grilled with hard questions, and eventually sound as convincing as possible – it felt like standing at the lawyer’s forefront.
Secondly, it was Pre-Moots seasons. We had the chance to travel to Amsterdam, London, Paris, Nijmegen and Maastricht. I’ll be brief here: we had a really, really good time. Sometimes we had to travel at improbable hours, and the weekends abroad were tiring for sure. But it was exciting to start competing as counsels and it was awesome to meet an army of students with whom we had lots of fun and shared unforgettable moments. Indeed, the Pre-Moots are also intended to give the mooties a chance to meet with teams from a whole bunch of different countries: those are people that had gone through everything we also had to face. It felt to me as if we had separately shared so many common experiences.
I can also be short here. Vienna felt like the reward for months and months of hard work. The competition was great as were the people we met. We gave all we got during the pleadings, but it also felt like a big party from the social point of view. One thing that truly impressed me was to see how approachable most of the arbitrators were at the social events. You could speak to everyone, and this is my last advice: go speak to as many people as you can, listen to what they think and ask them for advice. They are in the business and know how it works. Plus, you never know what might happen!" - Niccolò Trombetta, Participant Willem C. Vis Moot 2017