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The return of Indian mooting glory?

The intra-university mooting season has started at many colleges this month, with a select few hoping to qualify for the most prestigious domestic and international moot courts. And judging by track records and past performance, Indian mooters stand a good chance of going far and wide.

The race for participation in the most coveted moots is fierce and increasingly top industry players are using mooting competitions to select their future associates. With jobs at stake, students will aim to make their mark in the most visible competitions.

Topping the list for many mooters is the Philip C. Jessup International moot court competition, which is the world's largest. And with National Law School of India University Bangalore (NLSIU) having won the competition in 1999, it has history for Indian students.

"Jessup is undoubtedly the first choice of the law students in our university," says NLSIU Moot Court Society convenor Adarsh Saxena.

However, the selection process is challenging: after two qualifying rounds in India, only four Indian teams will qualify for the world rounds in Washington D.C., meeting teams that won qualification rounds in 45 other countries. Jessup's moot problem is based on public international law, ensuring a level playing field.

Last year NLSIU fell short of repeating history after being the highest marked team to qualify to the world rounds but ultimately being knocked out in the quarter finals.

However, NLSIU made up for it domestically by claiming its second consecutive victory in the Bar Council of India Trust Moot Court Competition. This competition involves working on four problems within one month or less and it is considered as one of the most prestigious national competitions. National Law University Jodhpur emerged as the runners-up in that moot last year.

Internationally, a close second to Jessups is the Willem C. Vis Arbitration moot court competition in Vienna. Over 200 teams from almost 60 countries argue before a distinguished panel of arbitrators on an international sale of goods contract.

The Indian tricolor was hung high over Vienna last year when the team from ILS Law College Pune came runners-up in the best team orals category after defeating some of the most prestigious law schools world wide.

A team from National University of Juridicial Sciences (NUJS) Kolkata had also won that competition in 2003.

NUJS also has strong younger mooting talent, winning the NLSIU International Arbitration Competition last year. That event was sponsored by Clifford Chance and other international firms also exhibit a growing interest in mooting. Herbert Smith, for example, sponsors the NUJS Moot Court Competition.

What moot?
When? Application deadline
Philip C. Jessup, Washington D.C. Jan - Feb 2010 (nat'l rounds)
21-27 Mar 2010 (int'l rounds)
11 Sep 2009 (early registration)
Willem C. Vis, Vienna 25 Mar - 1 Apr 2010 27 Nov 2009
Stetson International Environmental, Florida 6-8 Nov 2009 (S. India rounds)
13-15 Nov 2009 (N. India rounds)
11-14 Mar 2010 (world finals)
21 Oct 2009
ELSA WTO, Taiwan & Geneva Details TBC from 1 September 2009
Manfred Lachs Space Law 13 – 17 Apr 2010 (Asia Pacific regional rounds, Sydney) 15 Jan 2010
Henry Dunant Memorial, New Delhi 10-13 Sep 2009 (India rounds)
DM Harish Memorial GLC, Mumbai TBC (rounds generally held in the second weekend of February)
Bar Council of India Trust
TBC (generally held in December)
M.M. Singhvi Memorial Bar Council of India, Jodhpur Tentative Schedule: Jan 2010.
GNLU International, Gandhinagar 3 – 7 Feb 2010 15 Sep 2009

Another popular and demanding moot is the Manfred Lachs Space Law moot court competition. It involves a seeding round by the Indian Space Research Organization at NLSIU, with qualifying teams then competing in the Asia-Pacific rounds in Sydney, Australia.

The NLSIU team reaffirmed its dominance in international mooting by winning the Asia Pacific rounds in Sydney last season and they are now all set to argue before a bench comprising of judges from the International Court of Justice later this year.

Adding to India's mooting glory was the team from Gujarat National Law University Gandhinagar, which was the semi-finalist in the same competition.

Stetson International moot court competition in Florida is another highly rated competition. "It involves a problem on international environmental law and conducts North and South Indian rounds from which Indian teams are decided for the world rounds in Florida," explains Ish Puneet Singh from the Army Institute of Law (AIL) Mohali.

Puneet Singh's team was the semi-finalist in the world rounds of this competition last season. When asked his opinion on the mooting achievements of non-national law schools, he is quick to dispel the hype surrounding the national law schools. "The huge potential of other colleges is visible from the records of the moot court achievements in the last few years," he says.

Next to AIL Mohali, Government Law College (GLC) Mumbai was another semi-finalist in the Stetson world rounds. And with ILS the runners-up in Vienna's competition, non-national law schools are making their presence felt in the Indian mooting circuit.

It also appears that India is becoming a mooting destination in its own right rather than just providing the talent pool to international competitions.

The D.M. Harish International moot court competition is organised annually by GLC Mumbai. Featuring a strategic moot in international law, it is now increasingly also being attended by some of the elite UK and US law schools. It is also understandably popular for its lavish offerings of Indian hospitality.

“The west is finally recognizing India as an important mooting destination," says Ashish Chandra, who is convener of Gujarat National Law University's (GNLU) moot court committee. "The GNLU International Moot Court Competition has now been recognized by the International Law Students Association (ILSA) - the same association which organises Jessups."

GNLU's team was also the runner-up in the world finals of the Henry Dunant moot competition, which is organised by International Committee of the Red Cross in Hong Kong.

And as if the Indian circuit is not yet competitive enough, non-lawyers make up some of the tough new entrants to watch out for with students from the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) gearing up to show lawyers a thing or two again.

ICSI student Amit Kumar says: "Nowadays, the moot court competitions involving corporate laws allow for ICSI participation. We have performed well and were also the runners up in the NLS Corporate Governance moot court competition in 2009."

If previous years are anything to go by, this year's mooting season promises to be just as exciting and unpredictable. And with the markets picking up there may even be a job in it for the top advocates.

Legally India will cover the victories, defeats and arguments in the upcoming mooting season. To share results from your law school, please send us an email at

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