Another Great Success at the Willem C. 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. The Eighteenth Moot took place from 16 to 21 April, 2011 in Vienna. Over time, Moot has grown to become one of the world’s largest and most prestigious law competitions. This year 260 universities from more than 60 countries participated. In other words, more than 2000 students from all over the worlds gathered in Vienna to show the results of their work and to present their arguments. In such a strong competition, the students of our Faculty qualified for the elimination rounds (among top 64 teams) for the seventh year in a row. There is only one more participating university that has managed to achieve the same consistency in the past seven years, and it is the (West Bengal) National University of Juridical Sciences from Kolkata, India. What is more, our team prevailed over several opponents in the elimination rounds and was stopped only in the quarterfinals, thus ending in the overall fifth place in the oral part of the competition.
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, the students argued the jurisdictional issues dealing with allegedly wrongful composition of the tribunal, issues of confidentiality of the arbitral proceedings, conformity of the goods with the sample presented to the buyer and with the particular purpose, the duty of the buyer perform reasonable and timely inspection and the legal consequences of failing to perform such duty and notify the seller of the defects.
The Moot consists of two parts. The first one is preparation and submission of written memoranda prior to the oral hearings. There are two memoranda to be written: one for the Claimant, the other for the Respondent. The writing of these memoranda usually takes about five months. During the oral part of the Moot the students present their arguments before arbitral tribunal consisted of three members. Each team participates in four general rounds of argument: in two hearings the students assume the role of Claimant and in the remaining two the role of Respondent. In each hearing, each of the arbitrators gives marks to both speakers. Based on 24 marks that each team has after the fourth hearing, the participating teams are ranked for their performance in qualification rounds. The best 64 teams are then divided into 32 pairs and continue the competition by proceeding to elimination rounds, in the knock-out system.
In the qualification rounds our students met with the teams from United Arab Emirates (UAE University), USA (University of Georgia and Pace University) and India (Pune University). Apart from high marks, our students received very favorable comments from the world’s leading experts in arbitration and international trade law. In the final rounds, held on April 20 Belgrade team prevailed over Tulane University (USA), The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn (UK),West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (India), before being bested by the University of Montevideo in the quarterfinals. Thus our run ended on the overall fifth place in the orals. This was, however, not the end of the successes of our team in Vienna this year. At the awards banquet, all three of our students who were eligible for prizes received Honorable Mention for the Martin Domke Award for best individual oralist in general rounds: Iva Paić, 4th year student and Sonja Srećković and Boris Radojčić, currently enrolled in master studies. Along their side, the members of the team which represented the University of Belgrade Faculty of Law were also: Ana Avramović, Snežana Dabić, Mina Živadinović, Vojimir Kurtić, Sara Penđer, Ivan Čavdarević and Tanja Šumar. The preparations of our students were conducted by Prof. Dr. Vladimir Pavić and lecturer Milena Đorđević, LL.M. They were assisted by lecturer Marko Jovanović, LL.M. All three of them participated also as arbitrators at the Moot.
The preparations of our team for the Moot lasted six months. Thanks to the support of the Faculty of Law and numerous donors, our students got a chance to take part in pre-moots in Milan, Hannover, Basel and Madrid, as well as in the preparatory rounds with our colleagues at the University of Saarland and the Fourth Belgrade Open Pre-Moot. On both competitive pre-moots (those in Milan and in Madrid), our students prevailed in oral arguments. Shortly before the very beginning of the Moot in Vienna, our team also performed final rehearsals with the teams from Pittsburgh and Qatar. The Belgrade team also had the biggest group of “supporters” in Vienna, since the arguments of our teams were regularly attended by the colleagues who participated as arbitrators, former “mooties’ who now work as lawyers in the most prestigious law firms and even a couple of third year students, who will hopefully become the members of some of the future Moot teams. It is particularly worth mentioning that several former members of the teams of our Faculty became founders of partners or work in the law firms which are now sponsors of our Moot delegation. This shows that our students and the Serbian legal community highly appreciate the work of our Faculty, its commitment to the Moot and the tradition of successes achieved by our students.