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The Singapore Law Gazette

The 2017/18 International Moots Season in Review

Overview of the Season

This is the fourth annual review of Singapore’s performance in international moot competitions.1 See “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; “Another season of record-breaking international moot court achievements for Singapore Management University”, Law Gazette, November 2017. As the latest moot season3 Defined to mirror the most common academic year, ie end-August 2017 to mid-August 2018 for 2017/18. For this reason the 2018 editions of the ALSA and Linklaters moots belong to the next window. One-off moots (such as the TM moot) also do not count for present purposes. draws to a close, we are happy to report that the 2017/18 season has been another fairly decent one for Singapore mooters. SMU and NUS reached a total of 7 international championship finals between them during this period, and ordered chronologically, these moot competitions were:

Moot editionVenueTeamsBest performing Singapore team
20th Asia CupTokyo~ 35NUS: won championship
12th LAWASIA ArbitrationTokyo~ 40SMU: won championship
2nd Fletcher International InsolvencyVancouver~ 20SMU and NUS came in 2nd-runners-up
11th Investment ArbitrationFrankfurt~ 55NUS: won championship
15th Intellectual PropertyOxford~ 60NUS: reached quarter-finals
16th Red Cross International Humanitarian Law MootHong Kong~ 100SMU: 2nd-runners-up
15th Vis East Commercial ArbitrationHong Kong~ 140SMU: 2nd-runners-up
25th Vis Commercial ArbitrationVienna~ 350NUS: round of 32
59th JessupWashington DC~ 700SMU: won national round
11th Price Media LawOxford~ 100SMU: 1st-runners-up
9th Air LawSeoul~ 40SMU: 1st-runners-up
5th Private LawSydney~ 20SMU: 2nd-runners-up
11th International Criminal CourtThe Hague~ 120SMU: won championship
3rd Carey MootPrague~ 5NUS: won championship
19th International Maritime ArbitrationBrisbane~ 30SMU and NUS reached quarter-finals
4th Nuremberg Moot CourtNuremberg~ 120SMU: 2nd-runners-up

Season’s Results in Perspective

While the world records for most number of international moot final appearances in a single season (9, achieved in 2015/16 by SMU) and most number of international moot championships in a single season (5, achieved in 2014/15 as well as 2016/17 by SMU) continue to stand firmly, there were still noteworthy results this season in 3 of the 7 Grand Slam moots.2 Grand Slams or Majors are class-leading competitions that attract a substantial number of teams. The currently comprise the Jessup, Vis, Vis East, Price, International Criminal Court, Frankfurt, and Lachs moots. The first was SMU’s 4th consecutive championship final appearance in the International Criminal Court Moot, which was marked by the winning of its 3rd championship, thereby extending its tournament records for most wins and championship finals appearances (4) in this moot. The second was another 4th consecutive championship final appearance (and 5th overall) by SMU in the Price Media Law Moot, which also extended its tournament record for most championship final appearances in this moot. Finally, NUS reached its second championship final in the Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot, winning it in the process; both Singapore law schools have now reached the Frankfurt final 4 consecutive times between them, with SMU winning the 2017 championship.

In comparison, the win-to-final ratio for Singapore law schools across all international moots for the last 3 moot seasons is as follows:

Moot seasonNumber of international finalsNumber of international championships
2014/15NUS: 4

SMU: 8 (5 Grand Slam finals)

NUS: 3

SMU: 5 (2 Grand Slam titles)

2015/16NUS: 3

SMU: 9 (4 Grand Slam finals)

NUS: 3

SMU: 3 (2 Grand Slam titles)

2016/17NUS: 6

SMU: 6 (3 Grand Slam finals)

NUS: 4

SMU: 5 (2 Grand Slam titles)

Going further back in time, both law schools have now placed in the top-3 of Grand Slam moots 22 times between them since SMU launched its International Moots Programme in 2010, with SMU placing 20 out of those 22 times (including multiple trips to the Jessup, Vis, and Vis East finals) and winning 8 Grand Slam championships. Overall, SMU has placed in the top-3 for international moot competitions 64 times since 2010, winning 23 championships and just under 130 best oralist and best memorial prizes. This season alone, SMU won Best Oralist prizes in the LAWASIA, Private Law, ICC, Vis East, Vis, Price, Air Law, Jessup, Maritime, and Nuremberg competitions and won Best Memorial prizes in the LAWASIA, Price, and AIAC competitions, while NUS won Best Oralist prizes in the Asia Cup, Vis East, Vis, and Carey competitions, and won Best Memorial prizes in the Vis East, Vis, and Carey competitions.

The overwhelming majority of law schools do not reach, let alone win, Grand Slam moot finals with the sort of regularity that is witnessed here, even if there has been a dip in numbers for Singapore teams relative to the most recent years. From this standpoint, the international moots scene here remains healthy. Indeed, despite being a late debutant, SMU now holds the tournament record in 2 of the 7 Grand Slam Moots – the aforementioned Price and ICC competitions – and is only 1 win away from taking pole in 2 other Grand Slams (Vis East and Frankfurt). It also holds the tournament record for most championships for half a dozen other regional or smaller-scale international moots.

But one must always aim higher, or an entire mooting culture, be it institutionally or nationally, can be upended rapidly. Sydney’s 5 titles in the Jessup and Ottawa’s 3 titles in the Vis will take some time to surmount, and there is no question that a coherent national mooting strategy needs to be executed for that to happen. At the same time, Singapore should also aspire to excel at the highest levels in the various ADR competitions. NUS has been quite strong in this area in the last few years, and SMU has started taking steps to strengthen its ADR programme; for instance, its 2018 CDRC Vienna team taking 2nd-runners-up in the mediation/negotiation competition. With greater support and resources, we can break stubborn barriers on all fronts, and provide the pivotal base for Singapore to be that transcendental multi-tiered dispute resolution hub it has always aspired to be.

The 2018 SMU Price Moot team extended its tournament record in Oxford for most championship finals to 5 when it won all 6 matches en route to the final. Although San Carlos prevailed in the final, SMU also won Best Memorials, Best Finals Oralist, and 2 Best Oralist prizes. With 3 championships, SMU remains the only university to have won this Grand Slam Moot more than once.

The 2018 SMU International Criminal Court Moot team also extended its tournament record in The Hague for both most championship finals (4) and most championships (3) after winning all 9 of its matches against the likes of Australia, Canada, India, and the US. Having won Price’17, ICC’18 team captain Tracy Gani became the third ever student in world IM history to win more than 1 grand slam, joining SMU’s Saw Teng Sheng (ICC’16/Price’17) and NUS’ Jason Chan (Jessup’01/Vis’02) in this elite club.

Nicholas Liu’15 and Tan Jun Hong’16 won the 10th CIArb/NSW Young Lawyers Moot, the first SMU team to do so. Indeed, even after graduating, SMU international moots alum continue to do well in various competitions for young lawyers. The majority of finalists and winners in the past five editions of the Essex Court Chambers-SAL moot have been SMU alum; all of the winners of the Maritime Law Association Singapore Moot have been SMU alum; and the past two winners of the YSIAC competition have been SMU alum.

Endnotes   [ + ]

1. See “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; “Another season of record-breaking international moot court achievements for Singapore Management University”, Law Gazette, November 2017.
2. Grand Slams or Majors are class-leading competitions that attract a substantial number of teams. The currently comprise the Jessup, Vis, Vis East, Price, International Criminal Court, Frankfurt, and Lachs moots.
3. Defined to mirror the most common academic year, ie end-August 2017 to mid-August 2018 for 2017/18. For this reason the 2018 editions of the ALSA and Linklaters moots belong to the next window. One-off moots (such as the TM moot) also do not count for present purposes.

Singapore Management University

Chen Siyuan has been running SMU’s International Moots Programme with Eunice Chua and Lionel Leo since founding it in 2010/11. Details and records of the programme are maintained at https://law.smu.edu.sg/student_activities/moots.

Singapore Management University