It was a tough fight for the University of the Western Cape (UWC) law student team that participated in the South African leg of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.
The team finished as the runners-up in this prestigious national intervarsity competition. Despite two teammates withdrawing just before the competition began, the team lost the top spot to the eventual winners, the University of Pretoria.
The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the world's largest of its kind, with participants from roughly 700 law schools in 100 countries and jurisdictions. The global competition concludes on 10 April.
The UWC team consisted of Jakop Mphofu, currently completing his third year; Taskeen Abrahams, a final-year student; and, Anotidaishe Zhou, a final-year student. Their two teammates Athini Kanuka and Eldrich Skippers had to withdraw due to personal reasons.
The competition, which took place in early March, is a simulation of a fictional dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice, the judicial arm of the United Nations.
A moot court is a co-curricular activity at many law schools where students participate in simulated court or arbitration proceedings. Student teams prepare oral and written pleadings and arguments both from the positions of applicant and respondent in the case. In this particular competition, it was a legal battle between fictional countries.
The competition is regarded as a great start for a career in law and a unique opportunity for academically gifted and dedicated law students to hone their legal skills, while being exposed to people from the local and international legal fraternity.
Tamlyn Domingos, the UWC Moot Society Chairperson, said they have been drafting Heads of Argument since December, right in the middle of what was supposed to be a leisurely student holiday.
The day of the competition saw an early start for the team in the Kader Asmal Moot Court at UWC.
“The team argued each round as an applicant or respondent and showcased their skills and knowledge of legislation and case law. It was a proud moment to see them displaying the fruits of their labour, thanks to the training they received from Dr Precious Ndlovu, Prof Wessel Le Roux, Advocate Kessler Perumalsamy and Dr Conrad Potberg,” said Domingos.
“It was a whole-day affair and it was only towards the end of day, at around 6pm in the evening, when we received our final email stating that the team had made it to the final round.
“It takes a lot of dedication to be successful in this competition and I’m very pleased that the team had an opportunity to participate at such a high level. The competition is a wonderful opportunity to meet with others in the industry; from students to top professionals.”