Belgrade students again amongst the best Mooties in the world

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 Seventeenth Moot took place in April 2010 in Vienna. Over time, Moot has grown to become one of the world’s largest and most prestigious law competitions. This year 252 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 sixth year in a row. This remarkable result puts our faculty in a privileged group of only two universities in the world that ever managed to achieve the same result in the past six years. What is more, our Faculty is the only one which is not based in an English speaking country. The other university that managed to achieve the same result is  National University of Juridical Sciences from Kolkata, India.

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 questions of the effect of conciliation agreement as a prerequisite to arbitration, conformity of the goods with public law requirements, possibility of accepting the offer for modification of a contract by silence, bases for exonerating the seller from paying damages for late delivery of the goods in a politically unstable country and the right of seller to ask for buyer’s claim of damages to be reduced, since buyer failed to mitigate the losses.

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 has four qualifying hearings: 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 Germany (Giessen), USA (Columbia) India (School of Excellence in Law) and France (ESSEC). Apart from high marks, our students received very favorable comments from the world’s leading experts in arbitration and international trade law. Unfortunately, even though our students had an excellent performance in the elimination round against students from Florida, the arbitrators decided that the American students should win that round. However, this decision was not the end of successful results of our team in Vienna this year. On April 1, at the awards banquet, two of our students received Honorable Mention for the Martin Domke Award for best individual oralist in general rounds: Marija Škundrić, student of Master’s studies and Vojimir Kurtić, student of the fourth year. Along their side, the members of the team which represented the University of Belgrade Faculty of Law were also: Stefan Antonić, Velimir Živković, Bojana Jelisavac, Nenad Kovačević, Jovana Stevović and Marija Šćekić. Aleksandra Lukić, Adriana Minović, Andrej Mićović and Aleksandra Simić participated in the preparation of the written submissions. The preparations of our students were conducted by Prof. Dr. Vladimir Pavić and lecturerMilena 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 sponsors, our students got a chance to take part in pre-moots in Munich and London, and hosted the Third Belgrade Open Pre-Moot in Belgrade. Shortly before the very beginning of the Moot in Vienna, our team performed final rehearsals with the teams from Pittsburgh and Bahrain. 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 second and 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.

The winner of the Seventeenth Moot was King’s College from London, while the Australian University of New South Wales received the awards for the best memoranda for Claimant and Respondent.

The members of the Belgrade team will long remember the respect of their colleagues from other universities, large audience that attended their hearings and excellent comments that they received for their arguments and legal reasoning. The tradition of achieving remarkable results continued this year as well, and Belgrade remained one of the leading centers for arbitration law and legal education.

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