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Oxford University distances from Oxford India Moot and India alum society, ‘urgently investigating’ weekend’s debacle

Oxford: Not involved
Oxford: Not involved

A statement from Oxford University said that it was “urgently investigating” the participants’ allegations of disorganisation and an assault that allegedly took place over the weekend at the Oxford India Moot, which is organised by a group of Oxford University alumni in Delhi.

The allegations were first made in a blog post by moot participant and Amity Delhi student Akanksha Sharma yesterday on Legally India and student blog Lawctopus.

A spokesperson for Oxford University has now replied with a statement, claiming that the university was not directly involved in the moot court competition organised by the Oxford University Society India (OUSI) alumni group and that it would remove links from Oxford University’s website to the moot until it can complete its investigation.

In the statement the university also claimed that the moot’s organisers did not take up offers of assistance from Oxford and decided they did not want the assistance of Oxford’s law faculty in the moot.

A member of the OUSI wrote in an email yesterday: “Please note that the contents of the abovementioned post are false and / or misrepresentative and defamatory in nature etc. Please remove the aforesaid post immediately. This email is without prejudice to any of the legal rights of the organizers of the abovementioned competition.”

The OUSI did not respond to further requests for comment from Legally India.

Full statement from Oxford University:

Oxford University has been highly concerned to learn of complaints raised by participants in the Moot competition, which was not organised by the University but by the Oxford University Society India alumni group. We are ourselves urgently investigating competitors’ concerns with the leadership of the alumni society. We are asking them to explain what went on at the proceedings, and to respond to specific complaints.

The Oxford University Society India alumni group first proposed to the University in summer 2013 that it should organise a Moot competition in India. At the time, the University welcomed this initiative, and members of the Law Faculty discussed the problem to be set with the alumni group, and offered to provide one or more judges for the competition. The Faculty invited Indian law students to apply to the group to participate in the competition.

The planning and organisation of the competition itself was conducted by Oxford University Society India alumni group. The Law Faculty’s offer to provide judges for the contest was not taken up. On February 15, the alumni group notified the Law Faculty that they did not wish to continue any sort of association with the Law Faculty. The group subsequently did not respond to the University’s requests for information concerning preparations for the Moot. No members of the Oxford Law Faculty attended the event, or were involved in the arrangements made for competitors, in the conduct of the competition, or its judging. These were all the responsibility of the alumni group.

The University of Oxford is always happy to encourage and support events run by alumni groups. However, responsibility for event organisation rests with the groups themselves. These are autonomous, independently-financed groups run by volunteers, who undertake to the University to conduct themselves to a high standard and to keep us informed of the events they organise. The University can offer advice on the running of events but in this case, the India alumni group chose to make all the arrangements without such advice.

It is important to us that anyone attending an Oxford-related event should find it enjoyable and of high quality. We always welcome feedback about such events, including those organised by our alumni groups. Where it is established that events have clearly fallen short of the high standards we expect, we will investigate criticism and complaints and take up relevant issues with the organising group. In the case of this Moot competition, we are disconnecting any links to the Oxford University Society India from the University’s website until the full circumstances are established.

Photo by Charles Clegg

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