NUS Law Champions of D.M. Harish International Moot Competition

The NUS Law team was crowned champions at the 16th D. M. Harish Government Law College International Moot Court Competition 2015. The team featured three Year 4 students, Benjamin Foo, Jeremiah Lau, and Marc Teh. In addition to the win, Jeremiah received the awards for best speaker overall and best speaker in the final round, while Benjamin was ranked 5th in the overall speakers’ standings.

The team’s participation and success was due, in no small part, to the generous donation made by the late Mr H.L. Wee. Benjamin is the first recipient of the H.L. Wee Mooting Scholarship while Jeremiah and Marc are recipients of the H.L. Wee Mooting Fund.

Organised and hosted by the Government Law College, Mumbai in association with the D. M. Harish Foundation, the competition is India’s oldest and most renowned international moot court competition, boasting participation from teams of Indian and international origin—including New York University, Queen Mary University of London, National Law School of India University, Bangalore and Singapore Management University.

The competition is also noted for the consistently high quality of judges at every stage of the competition, from practitioners and professors well-versed in international law, to senior counsels of the Bombay High Court and Supreme Court of India. The bench for the final round comprised of five esteemed judges of the Bombay High Court, a court with jurisdiction over the states of Maharashtra and Goa, whose decisions can only be appealed to the Supreme Court of India.

The teams were tasked to prepare and present arguments on both sides of a complex hypothetical dispute that raised issues of public international law and international investment law. Briefly, these issues included the lawfulness of the use of force in a military intervention, whether the threat of activating a computer virus can be construed as a threat of use of force, the admissibility of the two aforementioned issues, and whether a legislative act of a sovereign state can amount to an expropriation that breaches international investment law. Many teams came well-prepared and were adept in the art of mooting and presentation, and their highly commendable performances and efforts made for a very high standard of competition.

The final round was a much awaited showdown between the team from The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata and the team from NUS Law. Both teams came through the preliminary, octo-final, quarterfinal and semi-final rounds undefeated. During the course of the round, both teams traded intelligently crafted arguments with excellent grounding in the law.

Ultimately, the NUS team emerged victorious due to their ability to address the panel’s questions and succinctly present “the law in the context of the facts”—per The Honourable Mr Justice V.M. Kanade, quoting a line from Benjamin’s speech. Besides being quoted by a judge in the highest court of the state, it was a historic moment for the NUS team as the results mark the first win for a Singapore team in the 16 years of the competition’s history.

Aside from the competitive aspect of the experience, it was also a culturally memorable and enriching experience. The exceptional hospitality of the Moot Court Association of Government Law College ensured teams’ needs were met, from safe passage from airport to hotel, to arranging for a tantalising array of cuisine for participants to savour at each meal. The friendly competition officials even introduced a little bhangra culture to the teams during a visit to a village-themed restaurant-cum-bar after the quarter-final rounds. In particular, the competition officials expediently arranged for transport for the NUS team when they had to rush for their flight immediately after the valedictory function after the finals. All in all, the competition was a valuable learning experience for the team.