Definition of ‘Moot’
The adjective moot is originally a legal term going back to the mid-
Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London
The main objective of the moot competition is to encourage the advocacy skills of future law students by encouraging the use of case law within a practical environment. Moots are viewed as an interesting and constructive way for future law students and those keen on debate, to be familiar and understand how to use law reports and the ability to undertake in depth research in their future careers. It is also becoming increasingly important that all students, not just those with the intention of pursuing a career at the bar, develop advocacy skills and confidence in their ability to argue legal points in a courtroom environment.
We have been impressed with the research undertaken by the North Cheshire college students, the high quality of the legal arguments they have developed and the confident manner in which the students present their cases. The competition is judged by a panel of magistrates, and prizes are awarded
Why should students get involved in a moot competition
As many students will be aware, the legal profession is an increasingly difficult one to enter. Application forms for legal professional courses, solicitors’ firms and barristers’ chambers often demand that a candidate can provide evidence of their advocacy or mooting experience over and above any of the more traditional areas of advocacy such as debating. Gaining mooting experience can have a positive impact on students’ future careers, whether it is in law or any other profession. And for those intending to study law at University, the ability to demonstrate on an application form that you have participated in a moot competition will certainly be a bonus.
Mooting can help build confidence in public speaking, general research, and skills. In other words mooting experience can benefit every student whether or not they plan to follow legal studies or a legal career.
How is mooting done – The Problem
A typical moot problem is concerned solely with a point (or points) of law. Normally it will take the form of a case heard on appeal from a lower court with the grounds of appeal clearly stated. A moot 'speech' will normally have a time limit of between 15 and 20 minutes. Students should be prepared to be on their feet, either presenting their argument or answering questions about their argument, for that amount of time. For the duration of their arguments the mooters are required to maintain the appropriate courtroom manner (remembering, amongst other things, to address the court and fellow counsel in the accepted form).
Preparing for a Moot -
Mooters should first read the moot problem carefully in order to ascertain the precise grounds of appeal. The grounds are stated in the body of the problem provided. It is a good idea for students to re-
It may sound obvious, but students should ensure from the start that they know which side they are arguing for (i.e. either the appellant or the respondent).
Students should begin their research by consulting any text books with which they are most familiar. Then check the footnotes — they are often a godsend to a mooter. Having ascertained which footnotes are relevant, students should make a note of the particular principles or points of law to which the particular footnote refers and write against each point the name of each statute, case, article, or book to which they are being referred. That will give students a start but they may also wish to consult old editions of text books (as this can contribute to the understanding of the points of law at issue by placing them in their historical context). Then continue by researching all the references that they have unearthed carefully making a note of any gaps in the research as they appear.
Structuring and presenting the argument
Having decided what view the student is expected to persuade the judge to accept, students must work out how their argument is to progress to that conclusion. The easiest way to note down the required stages of the argument is by arranging each discrete point in a sensible order and then numbering them accordingly. Generally, students should assume that the moot judge is familiar with the area of law in question and should not commence their argument on too basic a level. It may also be an idea to start with a point of law that is uncontroversial before considering issues upon which you are likely to be questioned and contradicted.
Students should be brief and make their submissions as intelligible as possible, avoiding excessive use of legal jargon. Finally, after all that students are advised not to read out their moot speech. It is an aide memoir only. The moot will test not only each mooter’s ability to present the argument, but also their response to questions and flexibility when interrupted by the judge. So if this explanation of a Moot Court has inspired your school to get involved, then please contact us.
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