NUS impresses at 9th Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot

NUS Law has emerged as First Runner-Up at the 9th Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot Court 2016. The team comprising Christopher Zheng ’17, Parveen Kaur ’16, Wilson Koh ’16, and Douglas Wong ’16 also clinched the Gary B. Born Award for the Best Team from a Non- OECD Country and the prize for the Best Team from the Asia-Pacific Regional Group.

The team’s success came after months of hard work under the mentorship of their coaches Ms Inga Martinkute and Assistant Professor Jean Ho. The team was selected through a faculty-wide call for applications in November 2015.

For this year’s moot, the case study involved actual people and facts from the late 19th century, where the captain of a Russian ship was unlawfully arrested and detained in the United States.

Teams argued an investment protection claim brought on the basis of a fictional multilateral investment treaty between the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and France. A wide range of public international law, international investment law, evidentiary and procedural issues were engaged. These included the provisional application of treaties, existence of an ‘investment’, most-favoured-nation and umbrella clauses, challenge of an arbitrator, the admissibility of irregularly-obtained evidence, and moral damages among others.

Seven matches were held over the course of four days, with Wilson Koh anchoring the team by pleading up to five times in a single day. After winning all 3 matches in the general rounds against Uppsala University, University of Luxembourg, and Sherbrooke University, the team qualified for the round of 16 as the second seeded team. The team then prevailed in the round of 16 (against Sciences Po), the quarter-finals (against St Gallen University) and the semi-finals (against Aristotle University); setting up the final against Bucerius Law School.

The final was judged by Dr Sabine Konrad (presiding), Mr Doak Bishop and Dr Veijo Heiskanen. Notwithstanding the somewhat unusual circumstances that the NUS team was thrust into, Parveen Kaur, Douglas Wong and Christopher Zheng deftly fielded incessant questions from multiple disciplines, and represented NUS Law with unparalleled skill, grace, dignity and composure. At the end of a memorable final, the NUS team was declared the First Runner-Up of the competition.

The team members found the experience enriching in their exposure to different legal cultures, nationalities and political perspectives. Of special mention is Lex the Lion, the NUS Law mascot, who was cooed over by multiple participants and judges, with the lady of the team (Parveen Kaur) describing his appeal as “fairly indicative of the love NUS received throughout the competition.”

The NUS team wishes to thank the following individuals who kindly took time off to impart invaluable expertise and advice to the team: Freya Baetens (Leiden University), Joongi Kim (Yonsei University), Aliona Bitkivskaja (SIAC), Kate Apostolova (Freshfields), Jason Chan (Allen & Gledhill), Andrius Smaliukas (Valiunas Ellex), Nicholas Song (Vinson & Elkins), Mark Huber (Centre for International Law), Elsa Sardinha (Centre for International Law), Gary Bell (NUS), Vincent-Jöel Proulx (NUS), M Sornarajah (NUS) and Albert Jan van den Berg (Hanotiao & van den Berg).

The NUS team also wishes to thank Professor Diego P Fernández Arroyo for hosting the team in Paris, and Sciences Po for being the main sponsor of the team. Last but not least, the NUS team is indebted to NUS Law, Dean Simon Chesterman, Vice Deans Eleanor Wong and
David Tan, and the Communications team of Lavinia Thanapathy and Tjut Rostina, for generous financial, material, publicity, and moral support.

The Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot Court is a leading moot competition on foreign investment protection. A total of 66 teams from North America, Latin America, Europe, the Caribbean, Russia, and Asia participated in the competition.

From left to right: Christopher Zheng ’17, Parveen Kaur ’16 (holding Lex the Lion), Team Coach Inga Martinkute, Team Coach Asst Prof Jean Ho, Douglas Wong ’16, Wilson Koh ’16