NUS Law Wins International Air Law Moot Competition

From left: Kelvin Choo ’17, Lim Hao Jie ’17, Charlene Wee ’17 and Professor Alan Tan ’93

A team of NUS Law students has emerged champions in the 8th Leiden Sarin International Air Law Moot Court Competition held in Valletta, Malta. The final was held on 9 April at the University of Malta's picturesque old campus in downtown Valletta. The NUS Law team - comprising fourth year students Kelvin Choo '17, Charlene Wee '17 and Lim Hao Jie '17 - defeated the Indian national champion, the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), to lift the tournament trophy. The judges in the final were three aviation experts:- Professor Laurens Jan Brinkhorst of Leiden University and a former Minister in the Netherlands, Professor Brian Havel of DePaul University (soon to be Director of the Institute of Air and Space Law in McGill University) and Ms Regula Dettling-Ott, former Vice-President, EU Affairs of the Lufthansa Group.

The team had advanced to the finals after defeating four other teams - from Ukraine, Poland, India and the United States - in the preliminary rounds. It also emerged as the highest-scoring team in the preliminary rounds. The team also received an award for writing the third-best respondent state's memorial arguments. Teams from 20 countries participated in the competition, including the leading teams from India who had topped their separate national rounds earlier in the year.

The competition involved a dispute between two states over the legality of subsidies given by one state to its airlines. The other state thus claimed that such subsidies unfairly propped up those airlines at the expense of fair competition in the marketplace. Intricate questions of competition law, world trade law and international law were thrown up, alongside issues on aviation law.

This is the second consecutive time that NUS Law has featured in the finals of the competition. In 2016, the NUS team emerged runner-up at its inaugural appearance at the competition hosted in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Both teams were coached by NUS Law's resident aviation law expert, Professor Alan Tan '93. Professor Tan had this to say about the team's win: "It is a splendid achievement for our students to feature in back-to-back finals, and to win it this year was particularly sweet. Aviation or air law is becoming increasingly important and is of strategic national importance to Singapore, given our status as an air hub and the potential disputes over airspace management in the region. This year's topic concerned the legality of subsidies to airlines, which is a very live issue given the continuing insistence of Western airlines that the Middle East carriers are unfairly subsidized by their own governments. Last year's problem concerned the closing off of airspace, naturally a topic of great interest to Singapore. Our students' achievements demonstrate the ability of young Singaporeans to take on complex aviation issues and and will hopefully boost our legal expertise and standing in tackling air law matters in the future. We are delighted to play a part in Singapore's overall aviation excellence."

As champions, the NUS team members also won coveted internships at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at its headquarters in Montreal, Canada. The team extends its appreciation to professors, administrators and all supporters who have helped them in their training, as well as to Judicial Commissioner Pang Khang Chau, Ms Tan Siew Huay '81 and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore for their unwavering support.

Dean Simon Chesterman congratulating the team and hearing about their experience at the event.

From left: Lim Hao Jie ’17, Charlene Wee ’17 and Kelvin Choo ’17