FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Every law school is eligible. Schools that are not law schools are normally also eligible if the study of law is part of the program.
Team members must be registered students as of the cut-off date, which is the day that the memorandum for claimant is due in December. Students working for a masters or doctor degree are also eligible, unless they have been admitted to the practice of law. Similarly, students at a school that is dedicated to preparation for the bar examination are eligible. However, students who are concurrently working in a law office may not be eligible, depending on the type of work they have been or are currently engaged in. In case of doubt as to the eligibility of a student, Dr. Christopher Kee (email@example.com), Prof. Dr. Stefan Kroell (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mag. Patrizia Netal (email@example.com) should be consulted.
There are two restrictions. Students who participated in an argument in an elimination round in the previous year in either Vienna or Hong Kong may not argue again in the Moot. Furthermore, students may not argue in both the Moot in Vienna and the Moot East in Hong Kong the same year.
There are three steps for a registration to be definitive:
1. Submission of a registration form duly completed;
2. Payment of the registration fee of 800 Euro;
3.Submission of the memorandum for claimant by the due date.
4. Why is submission of the memorandum for claimant by the due date considered to be part of the registration process?
The memorandum for claimant of each team is sent to another team, which is to prepare a memorandum for respondent in reply. This is done immediately after the due date for the submission of the memorandum has passed. Those two teams will also argue against one another on either Saturday or Sunday at the orals in Vienna. Experience has shown that a certain number of teams that have submitted a registration form will fail to submit the memorandum for claimant by the due date. Since it is not possible to pair that team with another team for the exchange of memoranda, it must be dropped from further participation in the Moot.
The total cost for a team to participate depends on a number of factors which are not the same for all teams. The one element of cost that is the same for all teams is the registration fee. The registration fee for the Moot is 800 Euro. The other items of expense vary depending on such factors as the number of team members, the cost of travel to Vienna, the level of accommodation and of food that are expected. Teams preparing a budget for the first time may wish to ask the advice of other teams in a comparable situation that have already participated. Contacts will be provided if requested. The items of expenditure are apt to be:
- Transportation of team members to Vienna;
- Food and housing in Vienna;
- Incidental expenses in Vienna;
- Those persons requiring a visa for Austria may be required to pay a visa fee and to procure health insurance for the period of their stay.
Visa information for Austria can be found in English on the website for the Austrian Embassy in London. Austria is a member of the Schengen agreement. Anyone traveling to Vienna from a Schengen country does not need an additional visa. A team from a country that is outside the Schengen area but whose passport holders do not need a visa may include individual team members who are from countries where a visa is required. Additional information is available from the Austrian consulate in your country.
Yes. Information regarding visa requests will be furnished to participating teams about the time of the submission of the memorandum for claimant. It is vital that applications for the visas are submitted very early. Any team member who does not already have a valid passport should apply for it as soon as possible.
No. However, the Vienna Tourist Board maintains an excellent website that lists hotels, pensions, apartments, private rooms and youth hostels. Additional places to stay can be found in the web. The least expensive may be a youth hostel or an apartment in which several team members can stay and in which meals can be prepared. Many teams pass on advice to subsequent teams from their school as to appropriate places to stay.
The rules require that there be two members of every team in each of the oral arguments. Therefore, there must be a minimum of two team members. There is no limit to the number that are permitted to be on the team. In the past, teams have had between two and thirteen members. The numerical average is about 6.5. It appears that the optimal number is normally between four and six. This allows for a division of the research work and permits practice oral arguments within the team. It also allows for substitution of a team member who may be sick or otherwise not able to travel to Vienna for the oral arguments. While a team of four obviously costs more than does a team of two, it does not cost twice as much since the registration fee is the same and it may be possible to share housing. More importantly, it appears that team members of teams consisting of four to six students normally gain more educationally than do members of teams of two students only.
Although the arguments in which all teams participate are Saturday through Tuesday, (with elimination arguments Wednesday and Thursday) a major educational benefit of the Moot arises out of the social contact with the other students and the arbitrators. Therefore, participants gain the maximum benefit from the Moot if they arrive in time for the Welcoming Party organized by the Moot Alumni Association Thursday night prior to the official opening of the Moot and if they remain through the Awards Banquet the following Thursday.
Participants should consider arriving in time for the Moot Alumni Association Welcoming Party on Thursday, March 17, 2016. Further information will be available on the MAA website.
Yes, of course, with one important qualification. The rules for the Tenth Moot were modified in regard to the formatting requirements, so that the earlier memoranda should not be followed as a guide in that respect. Moreover, there is now clearer guidance that the memoranda are to be written to advocate the position of the claimant or the respondent, as the case may be. Academic discussions of the relevant law are seldom effective advocacy and often detract from otherwise effective arguments.
This question raises one of the difficulties for a practitioner as well as a participant in the Moot. Lawyers (and therefore arbitrators) from a common law background tend to consider decisions of appellate courts as particularly persuasive while lawyers from a civil law background tend to be more persuaded by the doctrinal writings of eminent professors. A judicious mixture is probably the best. Of course, the text of the relevant statute, convention, contract provision or rule is always the highest authority.
The Moot is in English and all the participants, both student and arbitrator, will be familiar with it. Some will be able to read only English. English language authorities are, therefore, the only ones that one can be sure all the competing teams and the arbitrators will be able to read. That, however, poses a serious problem. The English language, the common law and common law reasoning are closely associated. Authorities from civil law countries often present different points of view in regard to the legal issues that arise in the Moot and they should obviously not be disregarded. Fortunately, many of those authorities are also available in English.
It might be noted that a common failing of some teams in the Moot, and more seriously of some lawyers in practice, is to rely only upon the authorities from one’s own legal system. That is never effective advocacy in an international moot or in an international arbitration.
Not as such. The cisgw3 web site on the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, has as complete a bibliography. Many of the judicial decisions that are known of are cited and many are available from the web site in the original language (by link to other web sites for non-English decisions) or in English translation. Many of the more important articles or extracts from books relevant to particular articles of the Convention are also available on the web site.
There is nothing comparable for international commercial arbitration. Research on the arbitration issues may, therefore, be particularly difficult for some teams. A guide to research on international commercial arbitration can be found in Professor Strong’s article, Research In International Commercial Arbitration: Special Skills, Special Sources.
The question of anonymising teams is one that gets raised with us periodically. There are both policy and practical reasons why it is not something that we are considering doing at present. From a policy point of view we do not consider it to be the right thing to do. There are a number of reasons why we have this policy stance. Firstly, anonymising teams is a tension between the education vs competition aspects of the event. Given the moot is first and foremost an educative event, we give that priority over competition aspects unless absolutely necessary. Secondly, transparency. There are two aspects to transparency. On the one hand in a real arbitration the identity of parties and counsel are known, and then there is the ethos that we wish to promote – we believe an in objective assessment approach where all people are encouraged to recognise and address any of their own biases. We do not disagree that anonymity can also support objective assessment (and indeed it is a concern for objectivity that often gives rise to the call for anonymity), however it is not the only approach, and we believe not the best approach. There are a variety of other measures that we use to address the possibility of bias.
With respect to the oral hearings, the results revealed that historically teams from a common law background had tended to perform better than those from a civil law background. However, following the change to the scoring system in 2017, the difference between the scores of common vs. civil teams is no longer statistically significant. Whilst we note that this is not concrete evidence of an absence of bias, it does suggest that our approach is appropriate. Arbitrators are instructed that whilst the scores they provide should be their own, it is important that the panel comes together to discuss the performance of the oralists and share their views with each other. Additionally, as noted in Rule 76 of the Moot Rules, any significant differences in the score of any individual member of the arbitral panel will be drawn to the attention of that arbitrator and the presiding arbitrator. The presiding arbitrator will be asked to advise whether the panel conferred with each other as recommended. The arbitrator whose score varies significantly will be invited to confirm or amend the score given. The score will always remain at the discretion of the individual arbitrator. A significant difference is defined as a variance of 15 points. Since the introduction of our website and IT platform (from the 22nd Moot) we have been able to review and consider statistical data that enables us to determine whether the memoranda rankings are consistent with what we would expect. For 2016 – 2018, Pearson’s correlations revealed a relationship between overall ranking of the first round claimant memoranda and oral score in the general rounds. In 2016 and 2017, a correlation was also uncovered between oral score and each feedback category (i.e. substance, effectiveness, authorities, presentation, language) for these memoranda. Whilst we are not putting this forward as categorical proof that bias is never present, this is a very strong indication that the current approach is robust and appropriate. The manner in which the memoranda are distributed for ranking and allocated to arbitrators also protects against the impact of bias to a very significant extent. Firstly, in the first round, each memoranda is distributed to at least 4 different arbitrators, each time in a different grouping of 4 memoranda.
Within certain parameters that distribution is random. The constraints on randomness are imposed when an arbitrator has a particular known conflict of interest. Finally the system of ranking (as opposed to scoring), operates to minimise the impact of any single instance bias. There is then a second step to the ranking of memoranda – namely the second round ranking. In this process every memoranda that has reached the second round is distributed to 5 different arbitrators in different groupings of 15. The arbitrators are asked to rank the memoranda by assigning the number 1 to the strongest and 15 to the weakest. The awards and honourable mentions are then determined by averaging those rankings. The practice over at least the 5 years has been to advance approximately 20% of the total number of teams participating into the second round. This is a very significant number of teams. Teams are not specifically advised if they made it into the second round, only those who receive an award or Honourable Mention become aware of this fact.
Arbitrators in the Moot and in real arbitrations are normally lawyers and law professors and they should be addressed as one would address such persons. Most importantly, arbitrators are not judges and honorific titles that might be appropriate with a judge are seldom appropriate with an arbitrator.
At the beginning of an argument the advocates for each side should introduce themselves, making sure that the arbitrators have understood their names and the proper spelling. Some teams have printed cards with their names upon them and the cards quite often have their contact information. This is useful for the arbitrators during the argument. The cards may also be useful with the many students and lawyers you will meet during the Moot.
Everyone is seated. The student participants and the arbitrators are seated at tables arranged in a U formation with the arbitrators in the middle, and the advocates on the two sides.
Arbitrators who come from different legal systems tend to have different expectations. Those who come from a civil law background tend to ask fewer questions and to ask those questions at the end of a presentation by the advocate. Those who come from a common law background tend to ask questions from the beginning and sometimes do not allow the advocate to make a systematic argument at all. Whenever possible the panels of three arbitrators for each argument are composed of lawyers/law professors from both backgrounds. As a consequence, advocates must be prepared both to present a coherent reasoned argument without interruption and to have the entire period occupied by questions – or something in between
Obviously it is necessary to start with knowing thoroughly the facts of the problem, the legal issues and the arguments in favor of the claimant or the respondent, as the case may be. There should be practice arguments in front of arbitrators who know the problem. Those arguments may be within the team or against other teams, if it is feasible to do so.
It is particularly useful, again if possible, to argue against teams from other legal systems and in front of arbitrators from other legal systems or who, at least, have some experience with other legal systems. Consideration should be given to participating in one of the Pre-Moot competitions that are organized in various parts of the world prior to the official oral arguments.
If a team is composed of four (or more) students, should two of them specialize as advocates for claimant and two for respondent?
That is one way to organize a team and it may give more security to some students. It is not, however, considered the ideal way to organize a team. The problems in the Moot, like many or most disputes that go to litigation, can be argued successfully for either side. The arguments for one side are never completely understood unless the arguments for the other side are also understood. The Moot rules encourage students to argue both sides by providing that the Martin Domke Award for Best Individual Oralist is awarded only to a student who has argued at least once for claimant and at least once for respondent.
There are recordings of previous final rounds available on our YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/@vismoot_official
The Moot Alumni Association website should also be consulted, especially for its social and professional program during the Moot.
A number of the students who participate in the Moot will wish to enter the field of international commercial arbitration after graduation. A useful compendium of resources for students and young practitioners seeking careers in international arbitration is contained in the document “How to Break into Arbitration: Useful Resources for Students and Young Practitioners“.