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. Participation in the Vis Moot Court is only possible for students who have completed their studies at the Europa-Institut.

Saarland University once again took part in the 30th Vis Moot competition under the supervision of Prof. emeritus Dr. Dr. h.c. mult Helmut Rüßmann. The members of the Saarland University team for 2023 were David Bastuck, Elizabeth Harvey, Jedida Mupako, Anusha Osman Ali and Nataliia Vodko. David has successfully completed his first German law state exam and is currently undertaking his specialization. Elizabeth is a doctoral candidate of Saarland University. The other participants are all LL.M. (Master of Laws) candidates at the Europa-Institut. In addition, the students were coached by other experienced moot alumni and legal practitioners, including Elinam De Souza (Europa-Institut/ doctoral candidate), Dr. Pieter Van Vaerenbergh (Europa-Institut/ Associate at Fieldfisher Law Firm), and Eva Wingler (senior government official in the Hessian financial administration).

The 30th Vis Moot Problem concerned the sale of drones from a private company to a state-owned entity. The problem raised issues such as whether drones of a considerable size should be considered “aircraft” and excluded from the CISG (UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods), the ramifications of the term “state-of-the-art” as a contractual requirement, or the effects of corruption on international arbitration agreements and commercial contracts. Hence, it created fascinating discussion and fostered creative solutions among the various teams.

Between October 2022 and January 2023, the team drafted and submitted memoranda, first from the Claimant’s perspective and then from the Respondent’s. Through this exercise, they sharpened their ability to explain complex legal issues in a structured and comprehensible way.

The 30th Vis Moot finally allowed the moot community to fully connect in person once again. In February and March 2023, the team travelled to the Osborne Clarke law firm in Cologne, the Zenica Pre-Moot in Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Gleiss Lutz law firm in Stuttgart, Field Fisher law firm in Brussels and White & Case law firm Frankfurt for Pre-Moots. For the third year in a row, the students of Team Saarland were trained additionally by experienced oral advocacy coach John Faulk, founder of RemTene Mooting. This period of travel and training helped the students to convert written submissions into convincing oral arguments of 15 minutes.

In April, 378 teams from universities around the world converged in Vienna to present their oral arguments before arbitrators from varying backgrounds and areas of practice. Team Saarland took part in four general rounds against teams from India, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. At the awards ceremony, the team was awarded the Pieter Sanders award for the 1st place Claimant Memorandum out of all participating teams. As a first-time achievement for Saarland University, this award is indeed an exceptional feat. Overall, the team gained experience, knowledge, skills and friendships to last a lifetime.

Report by Elinam de Souza

Saarland University will again participate in the 31st Vis Moot, scheduled to take place in Vienna in April 2024. Interested students may contact the team via vismootsaarland@europainstitut.de.