Outstanding advocacy at Meredith Connell Greg Everard Mooting Competition

31 August 2016
Everard Moot-9913
From front left: Bridget McLay, Frances Everard, Hon Justice Davison, Michael Greenop, Ana Lenard, and Michael Smol. From back left: Senior Lecturer Nina Khouri with Jo Murdoch and Kim Francis, both from Meredith Connell.

This year’s Meredith Connell Greg Everard Memorial Moot was fiercely contested by four of the Law School’s top advocates, Michael Greenop, Bridget McLay, Ana Lenard, and Michael Smol. 

Established to commemorate the contribution Greg Everard made to the New Zealand legal profession as a top civil and commercial litigator, the moot is held annually and is proudly supported by Meredith Connell and the Greg Everard Memorial Trust.  The intention is to create a lasting tribute to an esteemed colleague and at the same time help maintain and further strengthen the Law School’s record of achievement in mooting.

The event, which took place on 17 August in the historic Number One courtroom at the Auckland High Court, was presided over by the Hon Justice Davison. Watching the proceedings was Mr Everard’s daughter, Frances Everard.

The winner, Michael Greenop, received a $2,500 prize from Meredith Connell and the remaining finalists, Bridget McLay, Ana Lenard, and Michael Smol each received $500.

This year’s moot problem involved a dispute between two best friends, one now a rising star in the food science industry and the other now a famous fitness and nutrition expert. In response to a wildly popular new dietary regime - the “Mesoli diet” - that encourages people only to eat food that was available during the Mesolithic period, the pair agreed to collaborate on a line of protein bars to satisfy a market demand for Mesoli-friendly snack foods. 

However, the fitness and nutrition expert instead developed a competitor bar with Rawganics, the local subsidiary of a multinational soft drink company.  Outraged at the betrayal, the food scientist claimed a share of the nutritionist’s earnings on the basis of breach of a joint venture agreement and/or fiduciary obligations.  The dispute was referred to arbitration, but one of the arbitrators was a lawyer who frequently advises the nutritionist.  Having lost in the arbitration, the food scientist appealed to the Moot High Court under the Arbitration Act 1996 on the basis of arbitral bias and breach of fiduciary obligation.  Having lost in the Moot High Court, she appealed to the Moot Court of Appeal.

The students were congratulated by His Honour on their performance, particularly given the demanding preparatory work required by the moot problem.  They had to engage with the law and policy issues surrounding whether arbitrator bias can be waived under the Arbitration Act 1996, and whether the agreement between the two friends gave rise to a joint venture and/or to a fiduciary duty of loyalty.  Both points involved unsettled questions of law which had to be argued from first principles.

The Faculty of Law moot organiser, Senior Lecturer Nina Khouri, says she was particularly pleased with the high calibre of students who elected to participate in the moot this year and the good audience turnout on the night, all of which contributed to a particularly vibrant final. 

Thanks go to the sponsors, Meredith Connell, and everyone who made the moot such a success, including Jo Murdoch and Fiona Culliney, lawyers at Meredith Connell, who generously devoted considerable time judging the preliminary rounds.