Stout Shield Moot winners

20 May 2016
Stout Shield winners Tiaan Nelson and Andrew Grant

Andrew Grant and Tiaan Nelson have won the Stout Shield Moot for 2016. Tiaan also won the prize for best mooter in the final.

The moot, named after Sir Robert Stout, the former Prime Minister and Chief Justice, was first held in the 1940s and is the Auckland Law School’s premier mooting competition. Previous winners and finalists include former Supreme Court and Court of Appeal Justices Sir Peter Blanchard, Sir Robert Chambers and Sir David Baragwanath, as well as former Prime Minister David Lange.

This year’s Stout Shield Moot was open to all senior year law students. The four finalists competed against 20 other law students through the preliminary and semi-final rounds.
The 2016 finalists, Andrew Grant, Michael Greenop, Bridget McLay and Tiaan Nelson, competed in historic Court Room 1, at the Auckland High Court, before Justice Asher from the Auckland High Court, who was joined on the bench by Simon Mount (Bankside Chambers) and Dr Mathew Downs (Senior Crown Counsel at Crown Law). Each mooter had twenty minutes to present their argument, including questions from the judges.

The facts were that the appellant, Ms Parker, a New Zealand citizen, had been involved in a cyber-terrorist group. The NZSIS had information that Ms Parker was planning a hacking attack on a dam, which had the destructive capability to destroy three New Zealand cities. Ms Parker was detained for questioning, but refused to co-operate. Unconventional interrogation techniques which amounted to at least cruel treatment were then used on Ms Parker and led to a confession.

The NZSIS interviewed Ms Parker’s friends to find out more, and on the promise of amnesty, one of them handed over a USB key that contained part of the hacking algorithm and disclosed that the other part could be found in an underground lair on Ms Parker’s property. The NZSIS executed a search warrant, found the key, as well as other incriminating information, and averted an attack.

Ms Parker was then charged with engaging in a terrorist attack, and in the course of this prosecution she contested the admissibility of the evidence on the ground that it was improperly obtained. Her claims were dismissed by the High Court.

The issues were; was the evidence improperly obtained? And, if so, should it nevertheless be admissible?

The appellant team of Andrew Grant and Michael Greenop argued that all the evidence was causally connected to Ms Parker’s mistreatment and was therefore improperly obtained. Moreover the impropriety was of such a degree that the evidence could not be admitted.

For the Attorney-General, Tiaan Nelson and Bridget McLay argued that the evidence was not obtained in consequence of the breach of Ms Parker’s rights or her confession. Therefore it was admissible. And even if it were improperly obtained, its exclusion would be disproportionate.

It was a close competition with all finalists performing to a high standard, but in the end, the judges selected Andrew and Tiaan as the overall winners.

Andrew Grant, who also reached the final last year, says “I’ve always been interested in mooting and I was delighted to win this year”.

Currently completing his BA/LLB(Hons) conjoint degree, Andrew says that mooting has been great preparation for starting a career in law in 2017, when he will join the commercial litigation team at law firm Russell McVeagh.

The winner from the opposing team, Tiaan Nelson, is in his final-year of a BCom/LLB(Hons) conjoint degree. Next year he will begin work as a Judges’ Clerk at the Auckland High Court. Tiaan says “I’ve found mooting to be the best way to really engage with the law at law school. It was an amazing opportunity to appear in front of a bench of that calibre”.

Both Andrew and Tiaan will go on to represent the Auckland Law School at the Bell Gully National Mooting Competition, the winners of which go on to represent New Zealand in the world’s most prestigious moot court contest, the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Competition held in Washington DC in April next year.

The Law Faculty wishes to thank Bell Gully as sponsors of the Stout Shield as well as Justice Asher, Simon Mount, Mathew Downs, Edward Scorgie, Natalie Walker, Isaac Hikaka, Caitlin Hollings, Gretta Schumacher, Auckland Law School staff, High Court staff, and Judges’ Clerks for their contributions.