Auckland team reaches quarter finals one of the world’s largest mooting competition

01 May 2014
vis moot team and coaches 2014
From left to right: Cheyne Cudby (coach), Philip Arnold, Thom Clark, Sally Wu, Caitlin Hollings, Campbell Herbert (coach)

The University of Auckland Law School has placed in the top eight in one of the world’s largest and most prestigious mooting competitions.

In the Willem C Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot held in Vienna in mid-April, the Auckland team reached the quarterfinals where it was knocked out by Deakin University in a split-decision. Deakin ultimately went on to win the competition.

The 2014 competition marks the first year in more than a decade that an Auckland team has participated in the Vis moot, which is the largest single mooting competition globally, attracting more than 2000 students from 300 universities and 900 arbitrators to Vienna each Easter.

The team, comprised of Philip Arnold, Caitlin Hollings, Thom Clark, Sally Wu, and Luke Sizer (who did not travel with the team but assisted in the writing of memoranda), faced off against teams from Utrecht University, Dalian Maritime University, Moscow State Institute of International Relations University, and the University of Osnabrück in the preliminary rounds. In the knockout rounds of the competition, the team went on to beat teams from the University of New South Wales, the University of Ottawa, and the Catholic University of America.

Caitlin and Sally both received Honourable Mention for their oral performance, placing them in the top fifty speakers at the competition. The team as a whole also received Honourable Mention for its overall oral performance.

Coaches Cheyne Cudby and Campbell Herbert travelled with the team to Vienna.

“Their success is a testament to the incredible amount of work they have put in over the last six months. Auckland’s success at the competition, and the impressive showing from their colleagues from Victoria, firmly cements both Auckland and New Zealand’s already strong reputation on the world stage.” said Cheyne.

“The team very quickly developed a reputation as a formidable opponent,” said Campbell, “an incredible achievement considering this was Auckland’s first foray into the Vis Moot in recent memory.”

In addition to their success at the competition proper, the team also competed at pre-moot competitions at the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, CEPANI – the Belgian Centre for Arbitration and Mediation (where it placed third), Heidelberg University, Freie Universität Berlin, and at Charles University in Prague (where it placed second, narrowly losing the final to Indonesia).

Now in its 21st year, the Vis moot competition simulates a fictional dispute, to be settled by arbitration, between commercial parties arising out of a contract governed by the Vienna Convention on the Sale of Goods. This year’s problem concerned the applicability of the Convention to new and intangible technologies, and parties’ ability to compel arbitration when faced with a pathological arbitration clause – an issue currently under consideration by the New Zealand Supreme Court.

In the lead-up to the oral rounds in Vienna, teams prepare written memoranda for both claimant and respondent. The oral rounds see students make submissions before three person tribunals comprised of professional arbitrators, counsel practicing in the areas of arbitration and international trade, and leading academics.

Philip and Thom just have finished LLB(Hons) degrees. On their return from Vienna, Thom will commence work with Bell Gully and Philip with Minter Ellison Rudd Watts. Caitlin and Sally both resume their studies. In 2015 Caitlin will begin a judges clerkship in the Auckland High Court, and Sally a clerkship at Buddle Findlay.

The team acknowledges the generous support of the Faculty of Law, which helped make possible their success, and also wishes to extend its thanks to the Vice Chancellor, Russell McVeagh and the Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand for their financial support. The team also thanks those members of the profession, the Bench, and colleagues from other universities for their support in their preparation for the competition.


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