Our students keep making excellent results at the Vis Moot
The students of the University of Belgrade Faculty of Law have once again achieved excellent results at the annual Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. This year’s Sixteenth Moot took place from 3rd to 9th April 2009 in Vienna. Over time, the Moot has grown to become one of the world’s largest and most prestigious law competitions. This year 233 universities from almost 60 countries participated. In other words, more than 1500 students from all over the world gathered in Vienna to show the results of their work and to present their arguments. In such a strong competition our Faculty was ranked 9th after the general rounds and qualified for the final elimination rounds along with 63 other universities. It is worth mentioning that our Faculty qualified for the final rounds for the fifth time in a row. This remarkable result puts us in a privileged group of only 5 universities in the world that ever managed to achieve the same success in the past five years. What is more, our Faculty is the only one in this small group which is not based in an English-speaking country. The other four universities are from the USA, Australia, New Zealand and India. This line of successful results that our students keep achieving year by year is therefore even more important.
The problem for the Moot is always based on an international sales transaction that is subject to the 1980 UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sales of Goods. The Moot centers on a simulation of international commercial arbitration before which a dispute arising out of the sales contract is being resolved. This year’s problem was particularly challenging because it involved some of the most delicate issues of international trade law and arbitration: extension of the arbitration agreement to non-signatories, impact of insolvency proceedings on arbitration and the extension of contractual responsibility of the manufacturer of defective goods to the third parties with whom it does not have a direct contractual relationship. The Moot consists of two stages. The first stage is the preparation and submission of written memoranda prior to the oral hearings. Each team has to submit two memoranda: one on behalf of the Claimant and one on behalf of the Respondent. The second stage is the presentation of oral arguments. During the general rounds each team has four qualifying hearings: in two it appears on behalf of the Claimant and in two on behalf of the Respondent. At each hearing, each arbitrator scores the performance of each of the two students (acting as counsels) on one team. In the end of the general rounds, each team has therefore received 24 marks in total. When all the marks are added, a ranking list of all the participating teams is formed. The best 64 teams continue the competition, split into 32 pairs and pass to the elimination rounds.
The moot is organized and sponsored by numerous institutions worldwide, such as the Pace University (USA), United Nations Commission for International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), University of Vienna Faculty of Law, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), American Arbitration Association (AAA), German Institute for Arbitration (DIS), The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), Swiss Arbitration Association and the like.
The members of this year’s team that represented the University of Belgrade Faculty of Law were: Ivana Ninčić, Ivana Obućina, Milica Stojanović, Ivana Stojšić, Velimir Živković, Uroš Živković and Ivan Todorović. The coaches of the team were Dr. Vladimir Pavić and Milena Đorđević, LL.M. They were assisted by the junior faculty members, Uglješa Grušić and Marko Jovanović, who are Moot alumni and lecturers at our Faculty. The preparation of our team lasted six months. Thanks to the support of the Faculty of Law and numerous sponsors, our students had a chance to participate at the pre-moots in Munich, Zagreb and Madrid. A very important element for the preparation of our team was the brilliantly conceived and organized Belgrade Open Pre-Moot that gathered 17 teams from 14 countries. Right before the beginning of the Moot, in Vienna, our team had an opportunity for the “last check-up” during the preparation rounds with the teams from Vienna University and the University of Pittsburgh, which is one of the biggest supporters of our team over the years.
During the general rounds our students met with the teams from the USA (Franklin Pierce University and Berkley), India (National Law University Jodphur) and the United Kingdom (King’s College). Apart from the excellent marks, our students got sincere compliments from some of the world’s most competent authorities in the field of international trade law and international commercial arbitration, such as the German professor of arbitration law Dr. Karl-Peter Berger and the distinguished American scholar, Professor Mark Kantor. In the elimination rounds our students first met with the team from the Pace University, which is one of the founders of this prestigious competition. The arguments presented by our students prevailed and our team qualified for the round of 32 teams where they met the students from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The hearing lasted nearly two hours, which is almost twice as long as usual. By the quality of the arguments, both teams could easily qualify for the very finals. Therefore, the arbitral tribunal had a difficult task to decide who deserved to win. After long deliberations, the presiding arbitrator announced that the tribunal thought that the team from Victoria University was better “for a hair” so the students from New Zealand qualified for the round of 16 teams. At the end of the day, Victoria University of Wellington ended the competition as the winner of the Sixteenth Moot while our students received several important awards. The whole team received the honorable mention for the Claimant’s memorandum and our student Ivana Stojšić received the honorable mention in the competition for the best individual oralist at the Moot. By winning the awards on both stages of the Moot our team showed once again that the quality of legal education at the University of Belgrade Faculty of Law is among the best in the world.
The members of the Belgrade team will cherish the respect that the other participants felt for them at the very mentioning of the name of the University they were representing, the big audience that listened to their hearings and the compliments from the most distinguished experts in the field of international commercial arbitration. The tradition of achieving excellent results continued this year as well and placed Belgrade at the very top of the world arbitration centers. The media gave a special attention to the successful performance of our students. Furthermore, in her letter to the Dean of the Faculty of Law and to the students, the president of the Serbian Parliament, Prof. Dr. Slavica Đukić Dejanović stated: “I use this opportunity to address my sincere congratulations to the winning team on behalf of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia. My pleasure is even bigger as I myself am a university professor. I am sure that the whole society will benefit from your achievements and that your knowledge will keep serving you in future as well”.
The success of our team would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. We hereby once again express our sincere gratitude to all the sponsors of the Belgrade team: Telekom Srbija, JP Železnice Srbije, Rudnap Group, US Steel Serbia, Delta Maxi, Société Générale Serbia, Moravčević Vojnović Zdravković OAD in cooperation with Schönherr, Wolf Theiss, Karanović-Nikolić Law Firm, Prica & Partners, CMS Belgrade, Priaeus Bank, Belgrade Bar Association, Serbian Bar Association, Nikolić-Kokanović-Otašević Law Office, Rajko Ignjačević Law Firm, Miroslav Paunović Law Firm and IKRP Rokas & Partners.