On the road to Vienna…

Last week the team of Erasmus School of Law successfully submitted their Memorandum for Respondent in one of the biggest international moot competitions in the world, the Willem C Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Competition (“Vis Moot”). The students’ submission marks the end of the written phase of the competition and the beginning of preparations for the oral pleadings that will take place in April in Vienna.

The Vis Moot, which is a part of the “Grand Slam” of international moot courts, is held every year in the early spring in Vienna. It was created to promote one of the most important legal instruments in the field of the international commercial law, namely the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration and the Convention on International Sale of Goods (“CISG”). It also gives students a unique opportunity to test and improve their advocacy skills both in writing and in oral pleadings. This year the event attracted over 400 universities from all around.

Every October, organizers of the Vis Moot distribute the moot problem that consists of a set of legal documents exchanged between commercial parties at the early stage of the arbitration proceedings (the “case file”). Based on the documents received, students act as the legal representatives of the parties and prepare an argumentation supporting the legal position of first Claimant and then Respondent.

The Erasmus University has given students the opportunity to participate in the competition since the very beginning of the Vis Moot in 1993.  This year, Erasmus School of Law is represented by five talented Master students who follow different programmes offered by the School.

“The first time I heard about the Vis Moot was when I was doing an internship at the International Arbitration department at Houthoff. Everyone told me that participating in the Vis is the best thing I can do before graduating.” – says Thomas, Privaatrecht student. “I am from Singapore, where the mooting scene is very competitive. At my home university, becoming part of the Vis team and attending one of the “grand slam” moots is a dream come true. The very first thing I did when I came to Rotterdam was applying for the Erasmus Vis team” – adds Ben, a Singaporean student pursuing a dual degree at Erasmus University and National University Singapore. “We have put a lot of effort in developing not only our argumentation, but also our legal writing skills. It is amazing to see how far we came since our initial ideas and drafts!” – says Demi, a student of the International Arbitration and Business Law Master programme.

The next step is the preparation towards the oral pleadings which will ultimately take place in Vienna. “We already had a taste of what to expect during the internal moot in the first block of this academic year. International moot competition are at a completely different level, however.” – tells Jacobijn, who studies Commercial Law LLM. “The Vis Moot is an exciting adventure. All the effort that we put in in preparation, definitely pays off. During the written phase we received substantial feedback not only from our university coaches but also from external lawyers supporting the team. I cannot wait to improve my advocacy skills during numerous pleading sessions organized by our sponsors’ offices and pre-moots” – adds Pleun, also participating in the Commercial Law programme.

On the road to Vienna, the team is scheduled to take part in the preparatory tournaments (“pre-moots”) in Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Paris and Kuala Lumpur. These tournaments are aimed at developing the legal arguments and pleading skills. During the pre-moots, students meet their peers from other countries, which allows them to experience different styles of pleading and mastering advocacy skills.

Apart from travelling to the international pre-moots, students benefit from the comprehensive feedback given by the experienced lawyers at the Sponsors’ offices. “The team has been invited to the offices of Linklaters, Conway & Partners as well as NautaDutilh to practice their oral arguments. Conway & Partners offered their invaluable insights already during the written phase of the competition.” – explains dr. Piotr Wiliński, coach of the Vis Moot team. “Students have a very busy and exciting schedule ahead. Thanks to the generosity of the Sponsors, the team has a chance to achieve great things this year. We are very grateful for their support.” - he adds.

This year team is supported by Linklaters (acting as the main sponsor), Conway & Partners and NautaDutilh. Sponsors offer students their know-how as well as a financial contribution that covers students’ travel expenses incurred while participating in the pre-moots.

Follow 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 Erasmus School of Law website and official Vis Moot website. Explore the opportunities that the Vis Moot has to offer you!