Like every year, Erasmus School of Law has selected six students from its Master programmes who will represent the faculty at the 29th Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court this year. For the third time in a row, the teams will have to prepare for oral hearings held virtually instead of the pre-covid editions that used to be in Vienna and Hong Kong.
The Vis Moot is one of the biggest international moot courts that attracts over 400 universities worldwide and is held every year in the early spring. It gives students a unique opportunity to test and improve their advocacy skills both in writing and in oral pleadings. Erasmus University has participated in the Vis Moot since the first edition in 1993, which resulted in some very successful participation.
The road to the finals
The organisers distribute the problem in October which always revolves around the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration and the Convention on International Sale of Goods (CISG). The problem, better known as the case file, consists of a set of legal documents that were exchanged between two commercial parties at the early stage of the arbitration proceedings. Based on the case file, the students act as representatives and must prepare two legal memoranda. First for the claimant and then for the respondent.
Since the beginning of October, the team has spent countless hours improving their written memoranda. “It is all about storytelling and persuasiveness”, says Margherita, an Arbitration and International Business Law master student: “When I look at our first draft, I see how far we have come.” Students were asked to prepare legal briefs, first advocating on the side of the claimant and then one for the respondent. “It was an interesting experience to first build a strong legal argumentation favouring claimant’s position and switch your mindset overnight to tailor the most convincing arguments for respondent.” – adds Junior, Arbitration and International Business Law master student. “The writing of the memoranda required intense and elaborate teamwork; this truly was something I had not experienced in my studies yet”, explains Jian Shern, Arbitration and International Business Law master student. The written phase concluded at the end of January.
A hybrid form
Whilst the pandemic yet again forces the organisers to hold the finals of the Vis Moot virtually, this year’s edition will allow the students to travel to some Pre-Moots, which will be held in person and others join online. “Organisers are planning in-person social hubs, which will allow us to meet other participants of the Vis Moot. I am very excited about the upcoming months, where we will also attend in-person Pre-Moots!” – says Julia, a Commercial and Company Law LL.M student.
Meet the Erasmus team
For this Vis Moot edition, the Erasmus team is made up of six students coming from different parts of the world and from different legal backgrounds. Junior, Julia, Margherita and Teun come respectively from Mozambique, Poland, Italy and the Netherlands and have finished their bachelor studies in the Netherlands. Alexa and Jian Shern, on the other hand, come from Singapore and Hong Kong, where they are finishing their bachelor programmes.
The internationality of the team has been a key feature during the preparation of legal arguments, where the students had to face and learn to deal with different cultural backgrounds. “During the writing of the memoranda, I learned a great deal about differences in legal cultures, which has been a true eye-opener!” – says Alexa, an exchange student from Hong Kong – “This diversity has been a challenge and a growth experience for the whole team, which includes both civil and common law students”. Teun, an International Trade Law master student, adds: “During this Vis Moot, I learned a lot about the common law system. Very interesting to experience this so in-depth!”