Historical success of the Erasmus VIS Moot team

Last week an exciting journey of the Erasmus Vis Moot team came to a (bitter-)sweet end. Six months of intense preparations led to the first prize for Thomas de Bekker and Benedict Tan in the LCIA Pre-Moot in London as well as reaching the Finals (Top 64) during the main competition (held virtually) for the first time in the history of our faculty. Why is it a bitter then? COVID-19.

Since last reported (here), the Erasmus Vis Moot team continued its preparations towards the most prestigious arbitration moot court competition in the world – the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, which (under normal circumstances) takes place in Vienna every year in the spring. With a busy itinerary including travels to Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Paris and Kuala Lumpur, the students were thrilled to improve their advocacy skills and compete with their peers from all over the world.

At the beginning of March, following the first experience in Amsterdam and numerous sessions at the university and in the offices of the sponsors, students were off to test their talents abroad – in Berlin and London simultaneously. They left truly motivated and full of hopes only to realize that not everything is in their hands.

“I remember it vividly. After the first day of oral pleadings, the director of the Vis Moot, prof. Kröll, who was present during the premoot in London, told us that due to the concerns related to the Corona Virus, the organisers of the Vis Moot have decided to call-off the physical pleadings in Vienna.” – says Benedict, a Singaporean student pursuing a dual degree at Erasmus University and National University Singapore. “It was like a nightmare, that we all hoped to wake up from. We immediately texted the rest of the team, who was participating in a different tournament in Berlin at that time as well as our coach. No one believed us at first, until things got official. Sentiments turned grim” – recalls Thomas, a PrivaatrechtPrivate Law student. “It was a shock to all of us. We were enjoying our time with other Vis Teams from Germany, Poland and Russia only to realize that something was taken away from us.” – adds Demi a student of the International Arbitration and Business Law LL.M programme. “We had to face the fact, that our Berlin and London tournaments might be the closest to the “Vienna” experience we may have. These were difficult times.” – admits Pleun, a student of the Commercial Law LL.M. Remarkably, however, it did not prevent the team to secure a win (!) in London and top scores in Berlin.

After returning from Berlin and London, there was still hope that at least remaining pre-moots would be kept in place. At the same time, it was essential to adapt the preparations to the new, “virtual” Vienna. “Presenting the case in front of a camera is very different than reacting to what is happening in the hearing room. You need to take into accountconsider the quality of the audio, speed of everyone’s internet connection amongst other things” – explains Jacobijn, a Commercial Law LL.M. student. “Structuring your speech well and speaking slowly is of a paramount importance when you are pleading in a virtual setting” – she adds. “Thanks to the “virtual” Vis, we are on a forefront of our profession, however, international dispute resolution post-pandemic will never be the same” – suggests Thomas. “Within one week, we managed to schedule dozens of online practice rounds with other universities from all around the globe ranging from Brazilian universities to schools from India and Singapore. Giving up was the last thing in our minds.”- explains Demi.

A winner mentality inevitably contributed to the historical success of this year Erasmus Vis Team, who broke to the elimination round of the Vis Moot for the first time in the history of our university. “Reaching the grand finals in Vienna is an ambition of every team taking part in the tournament. It would not be possible without a lot of hard work, perseverance and commitment. This year’s team had it all.” – admits Dr Piotr Wiliński, coach of the Vis Moot team. “I believe that the team spirit was also an important component of their achievement. Taking such a journey together bonds for life.”

This year team was coached by Dr Julia Lessa and Dr Piotr Wiliński. The coaches and the team would like to express gratitude to their sponsors: Linklaters (Main Sponsor of the Erasmus University Vis Moot team), Conway & Partners and NautaDutilh who generously supported the team. Sponsors offered students their know-how as well as a financial contribution that covered students’ travel expenses incurred while joining pre-moots.

More information

You may read further about the team’s road to Vienna on their Facebook page. If you are interested in learning more about the Vis Moot, do not hesitate to visit official Vis Moot website as well as the Erasmus School of Law website or simply write to moot@law.eur.nl. Explore the opportunities that the Vis Moot has to offer you next year! Beware that the application process starts already in September!