Saarland University Vis Moot team experiences a different kind of moot this year

It's more fun to compete with other students in person than online. This year's Vis moot competition is very different from last year’s – a report.

 

The Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot is a competition for law students from all over the world. The competition on UN sales law and arbitration lasts more than six months, during which the participants must demonstrate excellent research skills, argumentation skills, a quick perception and the ability to work in a team. The team from Saarland University will once again take part in the 27th Vis Moot. The Master’s program students of the Europa-Institut Aurélie Brenneke (France), Pilar Clavel Nieto (Spain), Sanika Kulkarni (India), Aygul Mammedova (Turkmenistan) as well as the students of the law faculty Florian Zenner, Hagen Wagner and Jennifer Wassenberg together with their coaches Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Helmut Rüssmann, Pieter Van Vaerenbergh, Ben Köhler, Eva Wingler and Anna-Marie Faymonville have done everything possible in recent months to prepare for the Vis moot. But this year everything is different due to the Corona crisis.

Normally, the typical course of the competition is as follows: from October to February, two memoranda are written and from February onwards the oral phase begins. Two memoranda are written - one for the Claimant and one for the Respondent in response to a memorandum from the Claimant by a competing team. The students demonstrate their legal knowledge and skills not only by applying the legal framework but also by finding the most convincing arguments. Finally, an international jury evaluates the pleadings in terms of legal reasoning, style and presentation. So far, so good.

The competition moved into the oral phase in February. The arguments were presented in 15-minute pleadings. In order to improve their technique and deepen the arguments, the Saarland team already competed during so-called pre-moots against other teams from German, European and international universities in Frankfurt, Cologne, Stuttgart, Marburg, Erlangen, Zenica, London and Helsinki in law schools and local law firms until this year's pre-moot season was overshadowed by the worldwide events and restrictions of the Covid 19 crisis. Thus, the pre-moot season ended prematurely for all teams, as they had to learn at the beginning of March that the final round in Vienna, and thus every further pre-moot, had been cancelled. There are good reasons not to hold such a big competition with students, practitioners and referees from all over the world in one place, still the "Mooties" and coaches were sorry to hear about the cancellation as there they are putting in so much work, heart and soul into the preparation.

Nevertheless, there is a ray of hope: the organizers succeeded in setting up online pleas to continue the competition. Instead of meeting in Vienna, the participants are now meeting online, and since the motto of Saarland University’s team is "Let's keep the spirit alive", all the technical know-how has been used to make this possible. Now they no longer meet the opposing teams in person, but at least online during simulated negotiations. The team from Saarland University is already registered and has already carried out some online pleadings.

The speakers normally compete against each other in teams of two. Due to the current situation, this is unfortunately no longer possible, as each individual speaker is connected via a separate connection. Although this makes cooperation during a negotiation more difficult, it goes much further in such a competition. The team members have already spent hours each week during the written phase discussing with their coaches and polishing their arguments. This cohesion became even stronger during the oral phase, as each individual was challenged and therefore the support and cohesion of the team was essential.

For the participating teams from all over the world, the biggest difficulty is often the Internet connection to ensure a smooth process. However, the last few weeks have shown that there is no hurdle preventing the Saarland team - and many other teams as well - from participating in this year's competition. Therefore it remains exciting to see how the general rounds will end in front of the screens at the beginning of April. The team of Saarland University is optimistic and is determined to keep up the "Moot Spirit" and to maintain contact with teams from all over the world online now.

Teamwork makes the dream work!

Report from Jennifer Wassenberg