Mooting Video Tutorial

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Below are several video clips demonstrating mooting techniques and common mistakes.

Handling Questioning

Mooting is unlike university debating. It is also unlike courtroom scenes in American movies and television programmes. So you should not normally object during the submissions of your opposing team. If not expressly against the rules of a particular mooting competition, the judge will see objections as irritating and rude, as in the following example.

Remember that mooting is a genteel and gentlemanly pursuit - it lacks the rough-and-tumble aggression of debating. Interrupting your opponent will therefore seem bad manners. Instead you should raise objections during your own submission, or, if you have already spoken, during the right of reply at the end. Remember also that obvious errors in your opponents' submission will normally be noticed by the judge anyway.

Citing Authorities

When delivering your submission you will need to cite authorities to support your arguments. Normally you should cite cases from the law reports, quoting short extracts from judgments were directly relevant. Exceptionally on controversial or ill-defined points of law, you may wish to refer to academic articles. If so, these must be quoted not as binding authority but merely as persuasive arguments, which you wish to adopt in your submission. You should never quote from student textbooks.

Defending Arguments

The most important skill in advocacy is the ability to defend ones argument against judicial challenge and questioning. Expect to be challenged by the judge on the arguments you make. The judge will not just sit there throughout your submission smiling and nodding in agreement with everything you say.

On the contrary the judge will interrupt and seem to disagree and argue against you. This is to test the limits of your argument, and to test your ability, while standing on your feet, to defend and maintain your argument calmly, assertively and logically. Do not let this phase you. You are not being personally attacked.

Aggressive questioning is not necessarily a bad sign. Quite the opposite in fact - it may indicate that the judge believes you strong enough to rise the challenge. Take a breath, pause to meditate on your answer, remain calm, and then respond assertively but politely.

Judges' Questioning

A moot well conducted is a two-way conversation between advocate and judge. An advocate is meant not merely to delivery a speech, but also to respond to his or her argument being challenge. So expect the judge to interrupt. An advocate needs the flexibility to respond to these interruptions, while maintaining a fluent and coherent delivery.

The notes from which you read must therefore be flexibly structured. You may be required to depart from one point of your argument mid-flow and deal with another, if a judge's questioning leads you in such a direction.

In this first example, the advocate is too inflexible, and does not respond to the judge's wishes.

Judges' Questioning - Clip 2

The previous clip demonstrated the wrong way to handle a question. A good advocate will adapt and respond to the judge's wishes, rather than ignoring them and carrying on regardless, even if that means departing from the order of the original script. This clips shows a better way of dealing with the Judge's interruption.

Flexible, Conversational Delivery

When preparing for a moot, you should not write out your submission word-for-word, as a speech. This is very important. Anyone, who is literate, can read from or memorise a speech. But there is much more to being an advocate than this. Reading from a script makes you inflexible when the judge attempts to ask questions, as this clip demonstrates.

Flexible, Conversational Delivery - Clip 2

Remember that a good submission is meant not to be an after-dinner speech. It is more akin to a two-way conversation between advocate and judge. The tone to adopt is therefore direct and conversation, albeit in highly formal, stylised and courteous language.

Your submission should not be written out verbatim. Your notes should contain your arguments summarised into point form: the skill is to elaborate verbally on these basic prompts. This method gives you greater flexibility, when interrupted and questioned by the judge, as this clip demonstrates.

Making a Good Impression

Finally, it almost goes without saying, that high standards of professionalism are required in any moot. Do not be too casual about it, as our student demonstrates in this clip!

Our thanks go to Mike Clark, Robert Tiffen & Professor Mike Purdue for writing and acting these scenes.