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Symbi into top 10 as US mooters sweeps Indian teams at GNLU


George Washington University Law School (GWU) has won the second edition of the GNLU International Moot Court Competition (GIMC) defeating Symbiosis Pune in a thrilling final.

The event was organized by GNLU in collaboration with its partner organization for the moot competition World Trade Institute (WTI) Berne, Switzerland from 3 to 7 February 2010.

The GWU team was represented by Jocelyn Bond and Sarah Knutson and in addition to cash prizes they were also awarded full scholarship for a five week summer programme at WTI. Knutson was also awarded the best orator and best orator for the finals.

Knutson said that she had enjoyed the moot and was looking forward to staying in touch with friends made there.

The Symbiosis team was represented by Aman Singh Sethi, Sidharth Sawhney and Varuna Bhanrale. Their performance ensured Symbiosis Pune breaking into the top 10 of the Mooting Premier League.

The CNLU Patna team consisting of Sharda, Priyanka Anand and Shivangi Singh was awarded the best memorial. Symbiosis, Pune was awarded the second best memorial.

The finals witnessed compelling arguments by both sides before a bench of seven judges. The judges were WTO appellate body member Shotaro Oshima; WTI senior consultant Christian Haberli; Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) professor BS Chimini; Additional Solicitor General of India Harin Rawal; Laxmi Kumaran & Sridharan managing partner Laxmi Kumaran; Hebrew University Jerusalem professor Tomer Bourde and GNLU director Bimal Patel.

GIMC convenor Ashish Chandra said: "We laid special emphasis on the judging of the competition. The aim was to have a blend of experts in trade law and public international law as the bench for every round. It is a big achievement for GIMC to have a sitting member of the appellate body of the WTO to judge the finals, which has happened probably for the first time in any moot court competition."

Aman Singh Sethi of the Symbiosis team said: "This was by far the best organised moot and the toughest judging."

The theme for the moot court competition was international trade law. The problem dealt with the recent controversial topic of climate change and trade. Unusually, the forum of adjudication was the International Court of Justice despite the fact that the disputes in the moot problem arose through a Regional Trade Agreement and were primarily trade disputes.

Chandra explained that the reason was that the issue of applicability of International Law to a trade dispute is still a grey area with no concrete judicial opinion.

The problem involved a dispute between two countries that were signatories to a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The respondents faced declining exports and had promulgated legislation which imposed carbon tax on all products irrespective of country. The applicants whose exports declined due to the restrictions had in turn imposed countervailing duties.

In the final rounds Symbiosis acted for the applicants and the GWU team for the respondents.

Symbiosis' main contention was that market access commitments under the FTA were breached and that the respondents had also breached the National Treatment principle by imposing carbon tax.

However, the bench was of the opinion that since carbon tax had been imposed on all goods irrespective of country, it was justified. The applicants tried to convince the bench by stating that such duties were not imposed on 'like' products. The respondents conceded the point but argued that this was not the point at dispute.

The main point of the respondents GWU was that the applicants were not justified in imposing countervailing duties, which was a retaliatory measure that had been imposed by the applicants after they had imposed a carbon tax in furtherance of their international obligations under United Nations Framework for Climate Change (UNFCC) and Kyoto Protocol.

The bench also questioned the respondents GWU on the necessity of imposing carbon tax to which the respondents replied back that it was justified and necessary. They also argued that it falls under the general exceptions of the FTA in which it has been stated that such measures can be imposed when it is necessary to protect natural exhaustible resources.

However the bench was quick to point out as to how can they classify climate as exhaustible natural resources to which the respondents replied that the bench should consider the meaning of exhausted not in a rigid manner and should observe that the climate becoming dirtier and not suitable for use was equivalent to becoming exhausted.

In the rebuttals the applicants raised two questions. The first question was that the respondents failed the rule of necessity under general exceptions and that lesser trade restrictive measures should have been imposed. The applicants suggested other measures which could have been imposed.

The respondents replied by stating that alternative measures were not feasible and that discussions between both the parties regarding the same obligations had taken place during UNFCC and Kyoto.

The second question by applicants was that since the FTA was signed after UNFCC and Kyoto, therefore according to Vienna convention, FTA was to be given preference. So the respondents should not have introduced trade restrictive measures in contravention of the FTA. To this the respondents replied that the obligations under UNFCC and Kyoto was still applicable and they just wanted to oblige to their commitments rather than imposing trade restrictive measures.

The only Indian teams to have scored MPL points in the competition were CNLU and Symbiosis, with 5 points and 3 points respectively.

The MPL top two teams NLIU Bangalore and Nalsar Hyderabad were knocked out in early rounds but remain safe at the top of the MPL.

The total prize money at GIMC 2010 was Rs 750,000, with the top four orators being given the opportunity to intern with the law firm Lakhsmikumaran and Sridharan (LKS).

This coming weekend tier 3 competition DM Harish will take place, which has considerable overseas participation. ICC International Commercial Mediation Competition, Paris, KLA Moot Court Competition and the Surana Corporate Moot are also taking place.

After lengthy re-consideration, we have re-included the ULC Bangalore moot in Tier 4 on a trial period as it was a very close borderline case. Click here for the latest updated tiers of the MPL.

Also have a look at this
cut-out-and-keep MPL season calendar as a handy guide of all competitions that are still coming up in the MPL.

2009-10 Legally India Mooting Premier League table

Law school Points Wins
1. NLSIU Bangalore 73 Manfred Lachs (best team, best orator); Stetson South (best advocate), Bar Council of India (best orator); KK Luthra (best memorial); MM Singhvi (best researcher); Jessups South (best team, best orator)
Nalsar Hyderabad 66
IICLAM (best memorial); Henry Dunant Indian rounds (runners-up); Surana Trial Advocacy South (best team, best memorial); Nani Palkhiwala (best memorial), Bar Council of India (best team); KK Luthra (runners-up, best speaker); NLIU Tankha (runners-up, best memo); MM Singhvi (best memo); Jessups South (runner-up)
NLU Jodhpur 37
Nalsar B.R.Sawney (runners-up); Stetson North (best team, best memorial); Jessups North (best team, best orator)
4. NLIU Bhopal 34
All India Corporate Law Moot (runners-up, best orator); Nalsar B.R.Sawney (best team, best orator, best memorial); Stetson South (best memorial); MM Singhvi (runners-up)
5. School of Excellence Chennai 29
Henry Dunant Indian rounds (best team, best orator), NLIU Tankha (best orator); Nani Palkhiwala (best team)
6. Amity Law School IP University Delhi 25
IICLAM (best team & best orator); Stetson North (runner-up), Jessups North (best memorial)
Law Centre I (LC-I) Delhi University 14
Henry Dunant Indian rounds (best memorial), Jessups North (runner-up)
8. Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law (RGNUL) Patiala
13 Henry Dunant national rounds (best researcher); NLIU Tankha (best team)
9. Government Law College (GLC) Mumbai 12 KK Luthra (best team); MM Singhvi (best team)
10. NUJS Kolkata 11
All India Corporate Law Moot (best team, best researcher)
Symbiosis, Pune
Nani Palkhiwala (runners up, best orator); GNLU International Moot Court (runners up)
10. University Institute of Laws PURC, Ludhiana
11 Surana trial advocacy north rounds (best team, best orator)
13. Kerala Law Academy Thiruvananthapuram 10 Stetson South (best team)
13. Nuals Kochi 10 Surana Trial Advocacy North (runners-up); Jessups South (best memorial)
14. UILS Punjab 8 Surana Trial advocacy South (runners up, best orator)
16. HNLU Raipur 7 Stetson North (best orator)
16. ILS Law College Pune 7 Bar Council of India (runners-up)
16. New Law College Bharati Vidyapeeth University Pune 7 Stetson South (runner-up)
CNLU Patna
GNLU International Moot (best memorial)
19. Government Law College Ernakulam 5 MM Singhvi (best orator)
19. Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad 5 Surana Trial Advocacy North (best memorial)
19. ULC Bangalore 5 All India Corporate Law Moot (best memorial)
23. GNLU Gandhinagar 3 IICLAM (runners-up)

Click here for an updated (February 2010) list of the scoring criteria we are using.

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