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Mooting skills: Some practical tips
Some Moot Court Tips
In terms of the substance of the argument:
a)Were the arguments developed persuasively and coherently?
b)Were facts and legal argument integrated effectively?
c)Were the best authorities used and properly analysed?
d)Was any contrary authority distinguished effectively?
e)Was the candidate articulate and persuasive in presentation and defence of his/her argument?
Students will be heard in the following order:
1st advocate on behalf of the Applicant (A1)
1st advocate on behalf of the Respondent (R1)
2nd advocate on behalf of the Applicant (A2)
2nd advocate on behalf of the Respondent (R2) …and so on.
There will be no opportunity for rebuttal or su-rebuttal (i.e no right of reply).
Each student will be permitted to address the court for no longer than 5 minutes. Time will be strictly observed with a time-warning given at 4 minutes and 5 minutes.
Time taken up by the judges’ interventions and by students in dealing with such interventions will not count towards the time allowed.
Moot Court Judges
Each moot examination will be presided over by two lecturers from the Law Department: Either Ursula, Conor and Claire will attend each one. The Head of the Law Department or a judge of the High Court also be in attendance.
Mooting is a skill that can be learned. Reading, as with other subjects, will enhance your knowledge of what is required.
We would recommend in the library:
Snape & watt, The Cavendish Guide to Mooting. 2nd. Ed. 2000;
Snape & Watt, A Student Guide to Mooting
Researching your Submission
Read through the moot problem carefully and familiarise yourself with the facts and the issues involved.
Research thoroughly, distinguishing the relevant from the irrelevant material and noting the authority/status of the material you choose to use.
As you are preparing your submission, consider the arguments opposing counsel will be likely to submit. In particular, try to distinguish cases that are against you.
When writing your submission try to be conversational. Make your sentences short and concise. Edit carefully, avoiding last minute changes.
Structuring/Writing your Submission
Start with a brief summary of your argument.
Give the Court an idea of what you plan to discuss and in what order.
Make it clear to the Court in a very conversational way what issues are before the Court.
Make positive statements about the law and/or policy in your favour.
Do not attempt to rely on too many cases or authorities. Stick with the most important authorities and those that are most relevant/directly applicable.
Sum up your argument briefly before concluding.
Preparing your Submission
Keep your notes tidy. Handwriting can be difficult to read so make sure your writing is neat or your notes are typed.
Make sure you include full citations and references for any material relied upon. An index card with a list of key authorities and a summary of cases/articles is also useful.
Practice your oral argument several times before the moot.
Presenting Your Submission
Speak slowly and carefully. Try to engage the court by varying the tone of your voice and making eye contact with the judges where possible.
Bear in mind that this is an exercise in communication.
Remember also that you are presenting a legal submission on the facts of the moot problem and the court is only interested in the law and policy reasons why they should find in favour of your client. It is not interested in your personal opinion about your client’s circumstances. Be careful to detach yourself from the facts while also representing your client.
· Begin your submission with the following statement:
“May it please the Court, my name is ________ and I appear on behalf of ______. My submission will address…”
Conclude with one of the following statements:
“That concludes my submission. May I be of any further assistance to the Court?”
“Unless the Court has any further questions, that concludes my submission (on behalf of)…”
Other useful phrases include:
‘I will show that’. . . rather than ‘I will argue that . . . ‘
‘In my respectful submission . . .’
‘My opponent’s (or opposing counsel’s) argument overlooks that . . .”
‘The court should’ . . .rather than ‘the court must . . .’
When asked a question, answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and then explain your answer.
It is appropriate to pause (briefly) before answering a question from the bench.
If you are unclear or uncertain about a question posed by the court, some of the following phrases may be useful:
“I would be obliged if the Court would clarify the question.”
“I’m afraid I don’t understand the Court’s point.”
“I accept the Court’s point, however, it is my submission that…” [or] “I would submit that…”
Avoid phrases like “I think”. “I believe”, “I feel”. Speak about your submission in formal terms - ‘we submit’, ‘it is our submission’ or ‘it is submitted’. While you are presenting an ‘argument’ to the court, you are not arguing with it. Avoid saying ‘we argue’ or ‘it is our argument’.
You address the judges individually as ‘judge or ‘the Court’.
Listen to the bench and to your colleagues to gauge what points are of particular concern to the court.
Never interrupt a judge. If a judge interrupts you – stop speaking and listen carefully to the judge’s question or comment.
Always be deferential to the Court. Observing etiquette is an important part of advocacy and moot court.
How to write a Moot Court brief
If law school isn't competitive enough for you, add moot court to your life! Instead of the traditional mock trial competitions, moot court is appellate advocacy at its finest. Here, we'll discuss how to write the brief side of moot court for both classes and competitions.
1. First, read the problem carefully. The facts and procedural posture of the case will become very important as you hone in on your research. For instance, was the case disposed of at summary judgment? did it get to a jury? are there evidentiary issues? whose burden was it to challenge the adverse ruling?
2. Begin the research. There are two ways to start. If the problem lists cases or shows some legal analysis in the fact pattern, then start researching by looking at the cited cases. If the problem does not cite legal analysis, then skip to step 3.
3. After you've completed step 2, the real research begins. The best way is to start broadly and progressively get smaller. Start with law review articles or treatises (AmJur and ALR are the big ones, and each state has different, more specific versions like CalJur or Witkin).
4. With a broad understanding of what the law is in various jurisdictions through the treatises and law review articles, you can now start looking at individual cases. Keep an eye out for cases that have similar fact patterns to your own, the analysis may be very persuasive to a judge when you write your brief.
5. Make sure you keep a log of your research so that you don't have to duplicate your steps. I keep mine in a legal pad, though notebooks work just as well. Loose leaf paper tends to get lost, so avoid distracting problems like that.
6. When you finalize your research, outline your thoughts, with particular emphasis on including case names and page citations to save time once you start writing. The outline should form the basis for your actual writing, and the headings for the outline should give a good idea of what your argument will be in each section.
7. Start writing. Everyone has their own style, so find yours. One way to write each section is using IRAC, which stands for Issue, Rule (statutory or judicial), Analysis, Conclusion. Make sure your arguments address both sides of the point, with far more emphasis on your own argument of course!
8. Ask someone else to peer edit your work. Whether it's a fellow student, TA, or instructor, a fresh set of eyes will always help in shoring up loose arguments and loose language.
- Front page (Model format attached)
- Table of Contents
- List of Citations
- List of Abbreviations
- Brief Facts
- Arguments on Issues
- Customary form of Address to a Judge of an Indian High Court: My Lord when addressing a single judge; Your Lordships when addressing more than one judges collectively.
- Hand in your Memorial before you go to present your case. Bow before you submit and bow before u go to present ur case.
- Begin by saying "May it please your lordship"
- Then ask permission to present the facts or if you think that the Court is already apprised of the facts then jump to the issues by saying some thing like this "If the court is well aware of the facts may I proceed to the issues:
- Ask permission to state the issues if not previously asked
- Ask permission to place the arguments
- Ask permission to place the prayer
- Always express gratitude for permissions granted, for being corrected when wrong, when complimented.
- Answer all questions as courteously as possible.
- Plead Ignorance when answer not known and then you may ask for an opportunity to make a calculated guess
- Never point finger(s)/hand(s) towards the Court. NO hand gestures while speaking.