The old Melbourne Magistrate’s Court resounded to legal arguments once more, as students took part in the prestigious International Maritime Law Arbitration Mooting (IMLAM) competition.
Hosted by RMIT’s Graduate School of Business and Law, in partnership with Murdoch University of Western Australia, the competition attracted students from Europe, Asia and around the country.
The welcome ceremony was held in the architecturally and historically significant former Magistrates Court, which now forms part of RMIT’s Melbourne CBD campus. Distinguished guest speaker Justice John Digby of the Victorian Supreme Court outlined the colourful history of the both the building and the Admiralty jurisdiction in Victoria.
The RMIT team comprised of Juris Doctor students Olivia Dean, Naomi Keessen, Paul Melican and Elise Steegstra competed against 21 other teams, including 18 from international universities - six from India, three from Indonesia, two from Hong Kong and teams from Shanghai, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Holland, France, Spain and England.
David Goodwin, RMIT's Director of the Juris Doctor Programs, said hosting the event, which involved more than 50 contests and 40 individual industry practitioners as volunteer arbitrators, was a complex undertaking.
“But it was a thrill to see so many exceptional up-and-coming advocates in action, and to showcase RMIT’s outstanding law facilities which include our Emily McPherson Building,” Goodwin said.
Mooting competitions involve the oral presentation of legal issues against opposing counsel before judges.
In the IMLAM competition, teams of two law students appear before a panel of three arbitrators in a simulated arbitration setting.
The complex factual scenario which was the basis for this year's competition was developed by a group of specialist maritime barristers from chambers in London.
At the Grand Final conducted in a courtroom at the Federal Court of Australia, the National University of Singapore prevailed by majority decision over the University of Hong Kong.
The final was conducted before an esteemed arbitration panel chaired by Justice Stephen Rares of the Federal Court who sat with eminent arbitrators Ron Salter of Melbourne and Jane Andrewartha of London.
Expressing thanks to RMIT for hosting the event, Associate Professor Kate Lewins of Murdoch University said the teams were grateful for the experience the moot had given them and commended the performance of the competing students.
”Judging by their commitment and talent, they will be admirable additions to the legal profession in years to come,” Lewins said.
This was the 16th edition of the annual IMLAM competition, which was previously hosted by the University of Hong Kong in 2014 and the University of Southampton (England) in 2013. In 2016, IMLAM will return to England, to be hosted by the University of Exeter.