Preparing for the 2017 Willem C. Vis Commercial Arbitration Moot

By Kieren Bramham

Mooting has always been something that’s given me a practical opportunity to apply all of the reading required in law school. I remember thinking during my first moot that I was learning more about criminal law than I had during the semester. So I set on a path of trying some of the other internal moots run by the LSA finding that I rather enjoyed arguing in a suit. When I heard about the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot it struck me as an opportunity to crank things up a notch and see what law schools across the globe had to offer.

The Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot is a competition which takes place at the end of March each year in Vienna. The Vis East Moot is its sister competition, and takes place two weeks earlier in Hong Kong. The problem involves a dispute between parties to a contract for the international sale of goods. The parties have agreed that in the event of a dispute, they will appoint a panel of arbitrators to hear their claims and resolve their problems.

I put in an application and was quickly off to a brilliant start – I’d forgotten to attach my resume. Thankfully that was easily corrected and a few weeks later I received a call from Magda to inquire about my availability followed by an email informing me that my application had been successful. The team first met during swot vac to discuss the problem, and I began to realise that this was to be a far larger task than I had initially anticipated.

We started with the sixty-page brief of facts and then completed an online course to give us a basic understanding of the CISG (United Nations Convention on the International Sale of Goods) and International Commercial Arbitration. We were then each allocated a topic to research.

It was at this point in late November that we met the rather mysterious Joel Butler (from Bond University) who was to take over from Magda as La Trobe moot coach. We also met Emily Boutard who was to be working more closely with us as the VIS coach. They won us over pretty quick with their admirable patience, dedication and formidable legal reasoning.

With them at our side we began the gruelling task of assembling the claimant memorandum. We utilised every inch of whiteboard space in the Moot Court and multiple Caffeine loyalty cards. The claimant memo came together with legal and rhetorical scintillations such as “a bank charge is a bank charge is a bank charge” and our memo was sent off with just half an hour to spare.

We’ve taken a break over Christmas and the New Year but now we look toward completing another two memos before we move from paperwork to practicing arguments. We have the oral intensive in February, which will involve several weeks of intense oral advocacy training, and hopefully turn us all into grade-A mooting machines.

We’d like to thank Emily and Joel as well as the La Trobe staff, especially the library who’ve helped us enormously. We’re not quite halfway, but it’s exciting to think of much we will have all progressed by the time we leave to represent La Trobe in Hong Kong and Vienna.

La Trobe