Willem C. Vis – International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court


The Vis Moot Court in Vienna is organized by the Association for the Organization and Promotion of the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot in cooperation with UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law), renowned arbitration institutions and the Faculty of Law in Vienna. Arbitrators of the competition are judges, lawyers and professors from all over the world. The aim of the Moot Court is to support the study of international civil and commercial law and dispute resolution for international business disputes through the concrete application of a problem.

During the competition on international sales law and arbitration law, which lasts over six months, the participants have to demonstrate very good research skills, excellent argumentation skills, a quick grasp of the issues and the ability to work in a team. 

The students first work together on complex English pleadings, which are then presented to an international jury. Subsequently, the focus is on the presentation of polished and to the point speeches on the most important legal issues.

Mock trials, exercises and preparatory competitions for the Moot Court in Vienna are held regularly in the run-up to the event in various European cities. The team consists of both students from the Master's program at the Europa-Institut and students from the Faculty of Law at Saarland University. Master's program students, however, can only participate after completion of their studies at the Europa-Institut.

More information can be found on the website of the Vis Moot via https://www.vismoot.org/ 

A double win for Saarland University at the 31st Vis Moot in Vienna in March 2024

This year's moot was dedicated to the memory of Professor Eric E. Bergsten, who founded the Vis Moot in 1993. The Moot has since become the largest competition in the field of international business law worldwide and attracts teams from all over the world to compete against each other every year.

Laurenz Beckmann, Ruben Debuf, Nicolas Graf, Gabriel Haas, Ata Türkfiliz and Elene Turmanidze competed for Saarland University under the supervision of  Prof. em. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult Helmut Rüßmann and the support of coaches Elinam De Souza (Europa-Institut alumna and PhD candidate) and Eva Wingler (senior government official in the Hessian financial administration).

The 31st Vis Moot dealt with the modern issue of cybersecurity while simultaneously allowing teams to become familiar with the recently-adopted 2021 International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Arbitration Rules, the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) and the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

On the merits of the case, the students had to determine whether a payment of 38,4 million dollars made by the Respondent to a cyberattacker could be deemed as valid payment for the Claimant’s radar sensors under the CISG. This was especially given that the phishing email which prompted the Respondent to pay to the cyberattacker’s bank details contained several “red flags” and errors, which are characteristic of such cyberattacks. On procedure, teams dealt with the question of whether the tribunal could authorize an additional claim of the Claimant to the pending proceeding, or, in the alternative, consolidate the two claims into one proceeding. Tackling these issues from both the perspective of Claimant and Respondent, the team engaged in profound discussions while training their writing and analytical skills.

During the oral phase of the competition between February and March 2024, the team transformed its written arguments into oral arguments. The team travelled to the Gleiss Lutz law firm in Stuttgart, to the Madrid Pre-Moot in Spain, to the law firms Osborne Clarke and DLA Piper in Cologne, to the White & Case Pre-Moot in Brussels and to the ICC Pre-Moot in Paris. Through these Pre-Moots, the team learned how to extract the best arguments for a client and present them in a limited amount of time. The team also received several sessions of oral advocacy training from public speaking coach and expert John Faulk, founder of RemTene Mooting.

In March, 373 teams from universities stemming from 89 jurisdictions around the world converged in Vienna to present their oral arguments before 1,100 arbitrators from varying backgrounds and areas of practice. The team of Saarland University took part in four general rounds against universities from the United States and Poland.

At the end of an eventful week in Vienna, the team received two awards in the form of honorable mentions for its written submissions on the side of both Claimant and Respondent. This is an incredible achievement as only 14 of the 373 participants were able to win awards for both submitted memoranda. The team is proud of this achievement and looks forward to the 32nd edition of the Vis Moot.

Students interested in participating in the next edition of the Vis Moot are invited to send an email to vismootsaarland(at)europainstitut.de .

Report by Elinam De Souza

And here you can read about the 2023 Vis Moot Participation!