The fourth annual National Speed Mooting Competition took place on 20 February 2016. This year’s competition was hosted by Salford University.
The competition featured 65 participants each trying to prove that they are the best speed mooter in the country. Competitors travelled the length and breadth of the nation to take part, with competitors travelling from as far as Sunderland and London. Unlike most national mooting competitions, competitors represented themselves rather than their institution. The aim of the competition was to give all law undergraduate and GDL students the opportunity to compete.
The moot problem was released to competitors at 4pm the night before the competition to replicate the scenario in practice when a barrister or solicitor receives a late brief to appear in court the following day. Submissions were limited to 7 minutes (including the time for judicial intervention) in the initial rounds, and 10 minutes in the semi-final and final. Pre drafted skeleton arguments for both the appellant and the respondent were included in the bundle, along with the case law that competitors were allowed to cite. This meant that participants did not need to spend time researching or drafting and were therefore assessed solely on their oral advocacy.
To make the competition even more realistic, the judges included a district judge, barristers, solicitors, BPTC graduates and lecturers. In total, there were 31 judges in attendance on the day. Judges travelled from far afield, with practitioners from the London and Midlands circuit in attendance. There were also local judges, with practitioners from the North West, including those from the Merseyside Junior Lawyers Division.
The calibre of mooting throughout the day was very high, which made the job of judging the competition very difficult. Competitors were judged on:
- The court room etiquette and manner of each mooter and each contestant;
- The presentation and clarity of each mooter’s speech;
iii. The mooter’s ability to develop their argument;
- The use made by each mooter of each authority or other literature cited; and
- The ability of each mooter to deal with the judge’s interventions.
This year’s moot problem featured an Appellant that had contracted the Respondent to build a chicken coup at her property for a price of £13,590. The contract stipulated that the chicken coup must be completed by 25 May 2015. Due to unforeseeable circumstances the work was delayed and a further agreement made; that being, that the work would be finished within the original timeframe in exchange for a further £4,410. The work was completed on time. However, the Appellant, upon being invoiced for £18,000, insisted that she could only afford to pay £15,000 due to financial difficulties. The offer was accepted and the Respondent later received a cheque for £15,000 together with a bottle of whiskey. The Respondent subsequently claimed the remaining £3,000 plus interest, after seeing the Appellant driving an expensive sports car. The Appellant refused to pay the money.
The moot problem was therefore a classic part payment of debt issue. This is something that almost every law/GDL student will have studied in their first semester at law school. Consequently, all participants should have been on a level playing field with regard to their level of knowledge of the legal issues involved.
The day began with the first 3 rounds of the competition before breaking for lunch. After lunch, the competition continued and progressed into the later rounds. To make the day worthwhile for those that may have been eliminated early on, there was a case analysis workshop. This was delivered by criminal barristers Alex Orndal (Oriel Chambers, Liverpool) and Alex Langhorn (9 St John Street Chambers, Manchester). They each took a cohort of students and gave an analysis of a criminal brief. The workshop focused on case preparation, examination of witnesses and closing speeches. After the workshop, the two barristers went head to head in a mock trial, with Mr Orndal successfully securing a prosecution. It may be a hollow victory given that the Defendant in the dock was not the best client Mr Langhorn could have hoped for!
Just before the final moot, there was a Q&A session which featured a panel of lawyers of varying disciplines and experience. The panel featured:
Richard Burrows (Solicitor), Derrick Harris (Solicitor), Jac Armstrong (Pupil Barrister), Marc Asquith (Barrister), Sundeep Virk Singh (Barrister), District Judge Stewart, Lisa Splain (Solicitor), Katriona Stanford (Employed Barrister at the Serious Fraud Office).
The Q&A session was very useful for the students in attendance. They received guidance on applications for pupillage and training contracts, the realities of life in practice and the key differences in the professions.
After the Q&A session, the final of the 2015/2016 National Speed Mooting Competition took place. The final involved two students from University College London; Zander Goss and Teodore Chua. It was a hard fought contest and very close to call. After a valiant effort from both finalists, Zander Goss came out on top and won the competition. The trophies for both finalists were presented by the founder and organiser of the National Speed Mooting Competition, John Dove.
More information about the competition can be found on speedmooting.com.