The announcement that I was to proceed to the final of the City Scholars’ mooting competition had been a bittersweet moment for me: on one hand I was happy I was able to get this far in the competition (having previously beaten my record last year of reaching the quarter final stage only) but on the other hand I was also anxious of the prospect of being questioned intensively by Lady Hale of the Supreme Court.
I had prepared for the moot by trying to understand and analyse the issues in the question, before researching the appropriate authorities in order to prepare the bundle that was to be given to Lady Hale. Such preparation had been stressful and interfered with my work that often had to be set aside. There were many times when I had asked myself: “Am I doing this correctly?” and “Surely I am arguing this the wrong way?” particularly since the question had involved an area of which I am not fully studied yet, namely the remedies involved in breach of copyright. However there came a point where I had researched and practiced all that I could do and the only thing left was to take the plunge and just go for it.
Then at last came the day itself. Arriving at the Supreme Court had been a bit of a nightmare in itself and a short delay in the Tube meant that I had arrived only five minutes before the moot was supposed to start, which did absolutely nothing to calm those shaky nerves beforehand. I was quickly ushered into Courtroom 3 of which its grandeur had left me feeling quite insignificant, having been decorated with ornate paintings of past judges and important statesman that seemed to look down at you as you passed them. It was then some time before Lady Hale finally entered and the moot was to begin. As the junior respondent I was to speak last, and became increasingly nervous as I saw my opponents one by one battling with the questions that her Ladyship had given them. Then at last it was my turn to speak.
It soon proved to be a nerve wracking experience, and it was no sooner after I had started my speech that disaster struck. Lady Hale had dismissed a substantial part of my argument as being irrelevant. I had taken the wrong approach in my submissions and her Ladyship wanted me to proceed on a point of which had not been fully considered in my skeleton argument. As soon as I had heard this, my face had filled with utmost horror from having tear away from my submissions so quickly. I had to change tack, continuously thinking on my feet so as to answer all of her Ladyship’s questions. Lady Hale’s questioning was challenging, but yet intellectually stimulating in the sense that it forced me to talk about issues of which I had not even considered or had predict would come up during her questioning. No stone was left unturned, with it being simply not possible to get away without having a full and extensive knowledge of cases you are using. I was continually in the position of trying to defend myself against any convincing counter-arguments that were raised by her Ladyship, worrying at every moment of what I was going to say each time a question was asked. After what had seemed to be a very short amount of time (I had lost all perception of time whilst speaking – and although we had to speak within the allotted time of 10 minutes, this had been extended by judicial interventions) it was finally over, and I had collapsed back into my chair with relief, awaiting the result.
My initial reaction had been one of disbelief when I heard the result, thinking that I could not possibly have won if I had used the wrong argument in my submissions. However her Ladyship had acknowledged that, with all fairness to the other competitors who presented their arguments well and spoken confidently, my ability of thinking quickly had been the decisive factor in determining the winner of the moot. After that, all of us had been treated to what I felt was a thoroughly deserved dinner which was to mark the end to a gruelling but enjoyable competition.
Overall it had been an amazing day and I fully enjoyed it. I felt that the competition had increased my confidence and developed a range of public speaking skills, with a fellow spectator remarking that after surviving through that round, you were “ready to tackle anything.”
I have found that mooting has assisted me greatly with my work in the sense that I have a lot more knowledge about the academic debates that surround the topics that appeared in my mooting rounds. In a funny way, despite the evident stress and pressure which goes with preparing for a moot, the adrenaline rush afterwards had made me ever more determined to do more mooting in the future and I was soon left asking myself: “When can I sign up for the next one?”
I will definitely recommend mooting to anyone who would like to do the competition next year or have been thinking of participating in other competitions. You may say in reply: “Surely I have other more important things to do” or “I would like to do it, but there’s no way I could possibly win” – however there is always a possibility that you could and there seems to be no harm in trying it out. Even if you do not win, then all the skills of which you would be able to have learnt through the competition would still make it worthwhile to enter.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Catherine Elliott, Lady Hale and others for hosting such a successful event.
Want to find out more about the City Scholars Final? Read the post on Future Lawyer.
Thanks to Justin Wong, a student on the LLB programme at The City Law School, for this useful insight into the mind of a moot finalist!