The First ICC/KLRCA Pre-Moot for the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Competition was held at the state-of-the-art facilities of the KLRCA on 17th to 19th March 2017. It witnessed a gathering of established arbitration practitioners, academics and students from all over the world.
The overall winners for the international rounds are Vrinda Pareek and Raghav Mendiratta from the National Law University in Delhi, India. The winners for the Malaysian finals are Sharifah Shazuwin Binti Syed Sheh, Muhammad Shahrin, Munyra Muhafif, Fatin Nursa'adah Azman and Adly Zulfadhly Bin Zulkefly (Team 2) from the International Islamic University of Malaysia.
The KLRCA interviewed both the international as well as the national winners:
Interview with Vrinda Pareek and Raghav Mendiratta from the National Law University in Delhi, India:
1. Why have you decided to participate in the Pre-Moot? How many people were involved in preparations?
Our team's participation at an Indian pre-moot, albeit immensely beneficial to our overall preparation towards the Willem C. Vis (East), revealed to us that our approach to the arguments needed to be rounded off in a manner so as to cater to a broader, more diverse range of tribunals and opposing teams. Having sensed that gap, we were certain that the ICC-KLRCA Pre-moot would afford us a more international experience that would help us bridge it; and so it did!
We were part of a five-member team, each of us having been involved in teaching ourselves the fundamentals of international commercial arbitration and preparing the memoranda; finally, two of the five of us were engaged with the oral advocacy dimension of the moot court.
2. What was the most challenging moment in your Pre-Moot experience? What was the most memorable moment?
To us, one of the biggest challenges that any counsel would face in an arbitration is sensing the inclinations, concerns and expectations of the tribunal at an early stage of the hearing and adapting the client's case to them- and we found ourselves posed with a similar challenge, leading the arguments. It was only through the course of the delivery of my case, over the fifteen designated minutes, that our engagement with the tribunal would allow us to become increasingly responsive.
The rounds and the social gatherings towards the evenings allowed us to interact with other teams, arbitrators and arbitration professionals and take away fond memories. The most memorable moment in the Moot was arguing before the distinguished panel comprising of Mr. Christopher Lau, Datuk Prof. Sundra Raju and Mr. Abhinav Bhushan, in a packed Auditorium. The rush of arguing in high-pressure situations is what attracted us to the legal profession and acting as the counsel in a 20 million dollar dispute made us feel like lawyers for the first time ever!
3. What is most valuable lesson you learned? What is the most important change in yourself? Which skills have you developed?
The most valuable takeaway from the Pre-Moot, was a better understanding of the spirit and practice-related aspect of arbitration as a dispute resolution mechanism. The hearings at the Pre-Moot simulated, to the extent possible, the tone and ambience of an actual hearing. In doing so, they allowed us to imbibe the more commercially cognizant and collaborative nature of arbitration hearings, as opposed to the adversarial and formalistic court system that we were most familiar with prior to this experience.
Mr. Abhinav Bhushan, had said in his opening address that the ground rule for all Vis participants is to not sleep before 3 AM everyday - that they should not stay in their rooms but go out and meet as many people as they can! We diligently put this advice into practice and realized how big a difference this made to our entire experience. Mr. Bhushan's lesson on the importance of how to network, was my biggest lesson from the moot.
4. "Once Mootie, forever Mootie": are you planning to participate next year or coach a team of your university in future?
Most definitely! Our inclination towards mooting comes from the totality of the experience: the level of understanding of the subject matter that it pushes one towards; the nonpareil interaction that it allows between participants and judges alike; the friendships it allows to be forged; and simply the excitement that presenting a case (to a usually unrelenting tribunal) brings with itself!
The motivation behind wanting to coach a team from our University, or any other, also comes from a very personal experience- one where we, as a team, did not have access to a lot of resources and perspectives on the moot. We picked up the ropes along the way which, although an invaluable learning in itself, is something we would really like other similarly placed teams to benefit from right at the offset.
5. Do you think the Pre-Moot will have an impact on your career in international arbitration?
In our view, a career in international arbitration is largely a function of the requisite skill set; and also cannot be divorced from the people that make the field what it is. The Pre-Moot afforded us the opportunity to learn from both: skills, as employed in and developed through the course of the rounds; and diverse stories and perspectives that everybody came in with and very generously shared.
6. Would you recommend other teams to participate in our next Pre-Moot?
Absolutely! The ICC-KLRCA Moot was organized in a manner which brilliantly facilitated conversations with practitioners and arbitrators - in formal and informal settings. Meeting such people not only gave us an insight into the path to be taken to succeed in International Arbitration but also helped us develop our personal networks of mentors and guides which will be of great help when we decide to take the leap into practice.
The Pre-Moot offers everything there is to learn not just in preparation for Vis, but also otherwise, to anybody looking to explore the field of international commercial arbitration.
7. Your secret of success
We think a lot of the strengths that we were able to play to at the Pre-Moot came from the collaborative nature of the preparation process that Vis entails: remote practice sessions with teams across jurisdictions and inputs from people who had done Vis before, on what to expect and look out for. Additionally, we really tied to focus on conceptual clarity as to arbitration, before delving into the more nuanced issues that the problem posed; we think that went a long way.
8. Your message for the future teams
As cliched as it sounds, the journey leading up to the Moot is as precious as the Moot itself. Work hard, think out of the box, network effectively and most importantly - enjoy every moment of it!
Interview with Sharifah Shazuwin Binti Syed Sheh, Muhammad Shahrin, Munyra Muhafif, Fatin Nursa'adah Azman and Adly Zulfadhly Bin Zulkefly (Team 2) from the International Islamic University of Malaysia:
1. Why have you decided to participate in the Pre-Moot? And why was it important to participate in the first edition?
Muhammad: I chose to participate in the Pre-Moot competition because of the nature of the competition itself. I was thrilled to participate in a competition involving many people from all over the world.
Sharifah: I believe in education through experience and the Pre-Moot has most definitely taught me more than I could hope for. It was important to participate in the first edition as I had expected it would be an exciting experience and definitely different from the previous mooting competitions as this Pre-Moot has provided the platform to expand my network and social circle as well as getting to know other law students from various backgrounds. Indeed, it was a very special experience for me, one that I will always remember.
Adly: I decided to participate in the Pre-Moot because it is a new thing for me to try. For me, joining the first edition will actually set a benchmark to my own future in the legal career.
2. How challenging was your experience? Are you planning to participate in international rounds in future?
Munyra: Throughout the journey till the day of competition, there were a lot of obstacles going on with the dramas that we had, juggling with the academic workloads and other extra-curricular activities. When it was the day of the competition, we simply decided to give the best that we could since we had gone through a lot of hectic weeks and sleepless nights just to understand the case and to strengthen our arguments. Somehow or rather, the experiences that I had gained in preparing for the competition had helped me to enhance my soft skills especially when it comes to critical thinking and time management. It sounds petty or just another ordinary lesson I had learnt but I realized, how important to have these skills nurtured and enhanced in order to build a better version of myself. Especially since, at the moment, pursuing a career in the legal field is my plan for the future. I would really love to join this mooting competition once again as a team member, as this is the platform for me to learn as much as I can about arbitration and alternative dispute resolution as a whole for my own career goal.
Fatin: It was a challenge for us as we had little time to practice and prepare due to time constraint. This is also the first time I participated in a moot competition. However, it is safe to say I wouldn't want to have it any other way. It was a journey I will forever cherish. Before, I aspired to be a lecturer. After the competition, my career goals have expanded and I am considering arbitration as a profession. I learnt a lot within a month, not only that, I also had the chance to meet great and prominent individuals. If I had the chance, I would definitely participate in international rounds as a team member. It's a golden opportunity and it would be a waste to miss it!
Adly: Our team started with not-so-organized preparation but each team member knew their own job in doing the research and we also consulted each other on many issues regarding the Moot questions. It was worth the time to do research together with my teammates, as they provided their own interpretation of law. So, I have learned a lot on the issues from different aspects. This skill is actually very useful to be applied in studying as a law student. I would also like to join the international rounds both as team member and also as the arbitrator in the future.
3. What would you recommend to the Malaysian students planning to participate next year?
Sharifah: I'd say that it will be a mooting experience like no other. They will enter and meet others as mooters and leave as friends as the friends I have made during the three days have definitely left me with great impression. Also, to expect great coaches too because they're the best ones around. I was lucky to be under the guidance of Luis and Tatiana. (Senior International Case Counsels)
Munyra: Give yourself a try of something new because you will have no idea that at the end of the day, it is going to be worth.
Muhammad: Make full use of this challenging experience, you will learn and grow not only professionally but also personally.
Adly: Never doubt your own capabilities and never stop trying something new. Trust yourself and challenge yourself to the core.
4. What is the most important change in yourself?
Muhammad: I met so many different people and these people have certainly changed my views and helped me grow as a person.
Fatin: The most important change is believing in myself more. Once I set a goal, it is possible to achieve it with the correct attitude and support from all my teammates, friends, lecturers and coaches along the way.
Sharifah: The biggest change I realised was the fact that I could lead a team to victory because I didn't know I had it in me in the first place. They taught me more than I could teach them. I had always been a follower and thought I worked best alone but the most important thing to me was that my team became my family. That's how powerfully the Pre-Moot affected me.
Munyra: It has made me more confident about myself and more optimistic in whatever I do. (Other than the part that I became famous in my faculty for a while).
Adly: I’ve learned to value my teammates’ thoughts. They taught me a lot about being myself and I also learned to share things with them.
5. What is the most valuable lesson you learned?
Munyra: Getting out of your comfort zone could be the best thing you can do to yourself. This was my first time ever joining a mooting competition and I never thought I would like to join one when I started my degree at university, as previously my interests were on arts and performances. When I was given the opportunity to join this Pre-Moot, I only thought of accepting the offer in order to get out of my comfort zone for new adventures and discoveries. I was a bench counsel of the team at the beginning, basically helping the team to do research and giving them assistance to prepare the arguments and authorities. I was appointed to become the oralist 4 days before the competition due to unavoidable circumstances and it was one major change in my role for the team. I went to the competition just for the sake of the team and just to give it a try for me to try new things. I had never thought to get into finals because everyone was equally excellent and amazing but when I went, again, it was for my team because we had been working hard together for it.
Muhammad: The most valuable lesson I've learned is to enjoy doing whatever you are doing.
Fatin: I learnt that there's always plenty of opportunity in the world. It's for us to figure out what we want, grab the opportunity and make the most of it. It's never too late to explore new things!
Adly: Being in a team is one step towards success but having a good team is whole other experience to grab.
6. Secret of success.
Sharifah: Sense of humor. Mooting can be stressful and bring out the ugly side of everyone when the boiling point is reached. I made sure it wasn't even close for my team. Laughter is indeed the best medicine.
Muhammad: To enjoy what you are doing. Hard work alone would not guarantee success. Confidence and working smart would lead to success.
Munyra: To believe in yourself and to always walk together with your team members no matter how bumpy the road can be.
Fatin: To always persevere and know that it is okay to make mistakes, we learn and grow from those mistakes.
Adly: Listen to your critics and sleep well.
You too can be a part of our success story by signing up for our 2018 edition of the 2nd ICC/KLRCA Pre-Moot for the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court Competition!
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