Three law students at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) recently showcased their advocacy skills on the international stage, when they competed in one of the most prestigious international Moot court competitions in the world, the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, in Vienna, Austria.

Approximately 295 teams from more than 65 countries around the world competed, before top international judges and attorneys, for the esteemed overall title.

Representing South Africa, UJ’s team, Benjamin Cripps; Nicholas Potgieter and David Britz, all final year Law students, faced teams from the University of Lorraine (France), the University of Kozminski (Poland), the University of Parana (Brazil) and the Free University of Tsibisi (United States).

During the second round, UJ’s team went up against the Poland team that had an experienced bench including a Senior Law Professor from Pace Law School in the United States – the University responsible for organising the “Vis moot”.

According to UJ’s team, the third round against the University of Parana was the toughest round. “The bench was made up of distinguished International Law experts, including a director from the UNICTRAL Secretariat Office and the Australian Head of the International Commercial Arbitration, who had presided in the final round for the past three years,” says Benjamin Cripps.

UJ’s last round was against the Free University of Tsibisi. The tribunal was made up of several past participants including an Irish Barista.

Even though the UJ team did not make it to the final round of the competition, the feedback for all the rounds was positive, and specific mention was made of the team’s ability to answer questions unwaveringly, as the questions posed by the tribunal were continuous and constituted the majority of the allocated time.

“Developing a culture of presenting at moot court competitions is important to the Faculty of Law.  The students should be extremely proud of themselves, as this is their first time to participate in such a prestigious and challenging competition. Our students’ performance was exceptional, as the level of competition was incredibly high. Our team competed against teams representing all the Ivy League law schools in America and their equivalent from Germany and England,” says UJ’s Dr Elmien du Plessis, senior lecturer and mentor to the group of students.

She added that this opportunity, to compete in international competitions, is part of the Faculty’s undertaking to graduate lawyers with wide-ranging experience in a number of legal settings.

“I’m grateful to have been able to compete in the international competition. It would not have been possible if it was not for the exceptional lecturing staff at UJ and all the support I received from the University throughout my studies. I am proud to be associated with an institution that continues to give students opportunities to gain experience in the field,” says Potgieter, one of the participants.

Cripps and Britz echoed Potgieter’s sentiments and all agrees that competing in The Vis moot has developed a new desire to further their studies in International Law Trade, with a specific interest in the Arbitration aspects thereof.

For more information on UJ