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The Singapore Law Gazette

Another Season of Record-Breaking International Moot Court Achievements (SMU)

Another Season of Record-Breaking International Moot Court Achievements for Singapore Management University

Overview of the Season

It was written in previous articles in this publication that both Singapore law schools participating in international moot court competitions have been putting up impressive results in the last few years.1 “Some thoughts on a record-breaking 2014/15 season for Singapore’s international mooters”, Law Gazette, August 2015; “More thoughts on another record-breaking season for Singapore’s international mooters”, Law Gazette, June 2016. As the latest moot season2 Defined to mirror the typical academic year, ie. August 2016 to August 2017 for 2016/17. draws to a close, we are happy to report that 2016/17 has been another good season for Singapore mooters. NUS and SMU reached a total of 12 international championship finals between them during this period, and ordered chronologically, these moot competitions were:

Moot edition Venue Teams Result in championship final
19th Asia Cup Tokyo ~ 40 NUS defeated Ateneo
11th LawAsia Arbitration Colombo ~ 30 SMU defeated West Bengal
1st Fletcher Insolvency Sydney 15 SMU defeated NUS
10th Investment Arbitration Frankfurt ~ 70 SMU defeated Gujarat
10th Price Media Law Oxford ~ 100 SMU defeated Oxford
8th Air Law Malta 20 NUS defeated West Bengal
10th International Criminal Court The Hague ~ 120 Leiden defeated SMU
4th Private Law Sydney 15 NUS defeated Otago
18th International Maritime Arbitration Singapore 25 NUS defeated Queensland
1st Pan Asian Human Rights Hong Kong 8 U of Philippines defeated NUS
3rd HSF Competition Law London 12 Hong Kong U defeated NUS
5th Asian Law Students Association Arbitration Kuala Lumpur ~ 30 SMU defeated Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University

Season’s Results in Perspective

While the world record for most number of international moot final appearances in a single season continues to stand at 9 (achieved in 2015/16 by SMU), the world record for most number of international moot championships in a single season was equalled this season with SMU’s 5 championship victories in 6 finals – SMU had first set this record with its 5 championships won in 2014/15. Notably, the win ratio this time (5 of 6) was higher than the 2015/16 season (3 of 9) as well as the 2014/15 season (5 of 8). Indeed, the last few seasons have been particularly productive for both Singapore law schools, even without factoring in “grand slam” moots – that is, moots that are either considered major or those that attract at least around a hundred teams worldwide:

Moot season Number of international finals Number of international championships
2014/15 NUS: 4
SMU: 8 (5 grand slam finals)
NUS: 3
SMU: 5 (2 grand slam titles)
2015/16 NUS: 3
SMU: 9 (4 grand slam finals)
NUS: 3
SMU: 3 (2 grand slam titles)
2016/17 NUS: 6
SMU: 6 (3 grand slam finals)
NUS: 4
SMU: 5 (2 grand slam titles)

Another notable achievement of the 2016/17 moot season was SMU’s successful defence of its Price championship. Until 2015/16, no university had ever successfully defended a championship in a grand slam moot in the 60-year history of international moot competitions. This changed when SMU successfully defended its International Criminal Court Moot championship won in 2014/15. SMU successfully defended a grand slam championship again this season when it won the Price Moot in Oxford after pleading in the final before a seven-judge panel presided by former European Court of Human Rights President Nicolas Bratza. Not only did team member Saw Teng Sheng win Best Finals Oralist, he also won Best Oralist of the Tournament, a first for any university in this moot.

But it was not only in the Price Moot that SMU’s oralists shone. SMU also won Best Oralist prizes in the inaugural Fletcher Insolvency (Best Finals Oralist and Best Oralist of the Tournament), Investment Arbitration (Best Oralist), Private Law (Best Oralist of the Tournament (1st and 2nd)), and Pan Asian Human Rights (Best Oralist of the Tournament) moots. In written submissions, SMU won Best Memorials in the ALSA and LawAsia moots, an Honourable Mention in the Vis Moot, and both the Evans and Dillard awards in the Jessup Moot. On the part of NUS, they won oralist prizes in the Asia Cup, Private Law, International Maritime, HSF Competition Law moots, while winning memorial prizes in the Asia Cup, Vis, and HSF Competition Law moots.

Notwithstanding the commendable results by both universities this moot season, astute observers would realise that it has been almost 20 years since Singapore won what is perhaps the prize that is most etched in our local consciousness: the Jessup Cup. In human rights and international criminal law, SMU has dominated, having been to the two grand slam moot finals in these fields (Price and International Criminal Court) 6 times since 2015, winning 4 championships. In arbitration, SMU has also excelled, having been to the 3 grand slam moot finals in this field (Vis, Vis East, and Frankfurt) 6 times since 2015, winning 2 championships. But the Jessup Cup remains elusive despite SMU reaching the international championship final twice in the last 5 years. Australia has raced ahead of everyone else during this time, with Sydney leading the charge by extending their tournament record to 5 wins (with 3 wins secured as recently as 2011, 2015, and 2017).

So even as SMU closes in on its 50th international moot final appearance despite only starting its international moots programme in 2010, there is much to think about in terms of truly going up the next level. As mentioned in previous writings, if we are serious about developing Singapore into a world-class dispute resolution hub, there must be a long-term commitment to allocating the full array of resources in the training of our students’ skills while they are still in school – and more critically, certain old mindsets and assumptions must be eliminated. To fuse a couple of irrefutable adages: we are absolutely nothing without our people and intellectual capital, and if we fail to plan for the future, we plan to fail in the future.

SMU’s 2017 Price Moot team in Oxford

SMU extended its best track record in this moot to three championships in four finals by securing a unanimous victory against Oxford in the 2017 final. The Price Moot has around a hundred teams participating and is the largest in its field. Team: Chia Chen Wei, Lyndon Choo, Tracy Gani, Jacintha Gopal, Kara Quek, Saw Teng Sheng

SMU’s 2017 Investment Arbitration team in Frankfurt

SMU reached its second final in three years in what is now the world’s most recognised moot on investment arbitration. For his Best Oralist efforts, Dominic will be offered a fully paid scholarship to do his LLM at Queen Mary. The team was also offered a three-week placement at The Hague Academy of International Law. Team: Luis Duhart, Dominic Liew, Loh Kah Yunn, Sean Sim

Essex Court Chambers-SAL Moot 2017

SMU mooters do not stop honing their craft upon graduation. Its international moot alumni have become regular features in the Essex Court Chambers-SAL Moot finals, but the 2017 edition witnessed an all-SMU final for the first time as Justices’ Law Clerks Bethel Chan, Eden Li, Nicholas Liu, and Tan Jun Hong made their case before Justice Quentin Loh, Justice Anselmo Reyes, and Andrew Hochhauser QC. All four alumni were prominent mooters for SMU, having spoken in various international moot championship finals such as the Vis East, Vis, and Jessup.


1 “Some thoughts on a record-breaking 2014/15 season for Singapore’s international mooters”, Law Gazette, August 2015; “More thoughts on another record-breaking season for Singapore’s international mooters”, Law Gazette, June 2016.
2 Defined to mirror the typical academic year, ie. August 2016 to August 2017 for 2016/17.

Associate Professor
Associate Dean (Student and Alumni Affairs)
Director of Moots
Singapore Management University

CEO, Financial Industry Disputes Resolution Centre
Research Fellow, Singapore International Dispute Resolution Academy, Singapore Management University School of Law