RMIT has competed for the first time in the Vis East International Commercial Arbitration Moot Competition in Hong Kong.
Vis East is one of the world’s largest moot competitions, attracting teams from over 300 law schools and involving more than 2,000 students, coaches and teaching staff.
Arbitration is now the preferred mode of dispute resolution for many in the international business community who prefer to avoid costly and lengthy litigation.
The Vis moot is designed to provide a clinical tool for training law students in crucial aspects of arbitration procedure: research, drafting and advocacy.
The moot is strongly supported by the legal profession. Over $3 million worth of legal fees and billable hours were foregone by the many seasoned lawyers and arbitrators who volunteered their time to judge this year’s Vis moots.
The moot problem involved a fictitious contractual dispute arising out of an international transaction relating to the sale of goods under the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG).
The teams had to analyse the problem, research and apply the relevant international law and prepare written memoranda for both claimant and defendant memoranda over three months. Oral submissions were made over a week in Hong Kong, these consisted of four general round-robin rounds and then the knockout finals.
The RMIT team included Juris Doctor students Megan Clover, Olivia Dean, Elise Steegstra and Marc Zanier.
Jonathan Kolieb, Lecturer and Vis Coach, was impressed with the way the students prepared and handled themselves especially without any prior knowledge of the process.
“Producing over 70 pages of high quality written memoranda over the summer months – when friends and family were out having fun in the sun – was a really amazing team effort,” he said.
“The intensity only increased from there! The lead up to the oral rounds in Hong Kong was filled with refining our legal arguments and honing our advocacy skills.”
In the general rounds RMIT competed against teams from Germany, Thailand, China and India.
“Our team did really well, showing true grit, discipline, skill and depth of legal knowledge,” Kolieb said.
“While many teams were better resourced and experienced than ours we held our own and ended up winning each of our moots.
“One London-based commercial arbitrator with over three decades of experience was so taken with the performance of one team member that he awarded them a perfect score and invited them to work and study with him in London.”
The week in Hong Kong also included some sightseeing and a number of social and networking events.
Marc Zanier said: ‘This experience has hands down been the best I have ever had.
“The references and professional connections mean more than awards and commendations and will be invaluable in my future career.”
Megan Clover described the whole experience as an amazing professional opportunity.
“It is a lot of hard work but extremely rewarding,” she said.
“We had the opportunity to meet authors such as Scwhenzer and to be around some of the greatest legal minds in the world.
“The team we had this year was brilliant and dynamic, the coach was dedicated and brought out the best in each of the team members.”