UQ triumphs at international advocacy contest

10 Apr 2018

The University of Queensland’s TC Beirne School of Law has beaten more than 600 teams from around the world to be crowned the winner of the 2018 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in Washington DC, USA.

The team – Samara Cassar, Hennie Lui, Julius Moller, Claire Robertson and Edward Watson – defeated the National Law School of India University at the prestigious event at the weekend.

This is the third time UQ has won the international competition, which is the world’s oldest and largest international moot court event.

L to R: Judge Julia Sebutinde, Judge Ronny Abraham, Judge Kirill Gevorgian, Samara Cassar, Hennie Lui, Edward Watson, Julius Moller, Claire Robertson. Credit - White & Case and ILSA.

Acting Head of School Professor Fiona Rohde said she was delighted with the team’s outstanding performance.

“I offer my hearty congratulations to the team on this incredible achievement,” Professor Rohde said.

“The team’s coaches, Keilin Anderson, Camille Boileau and Liz Stanley, provided dedication and support throughout the competition.”

UQ acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Aidan Byrne said the students had continued UQ's record of success in mooting competitions nationally and internationally.

“This achievement is testament to the high quality of legal advocacy, research, preparation and practice by the UQ Jessup team and the support of academics, judiciary, and alumni involved in the Law School’s mooting program,” he said.

After preliminary rounds against Japan, Vietnam, South Africa and Guatemala, the team progressed through to the advanced rounds, beating Germany, Canada, Mexico and Chile to make it to the Grand Final. 

Coach and current law student Keilin Anderson acknowledged the tireless efforts of TC Beirne professors, alumni, the Queensland judiciary, bar and legal profession who judged the team's practice moots and provided advocacy advice. 

"The team would also like to thank the new international friends from Mexico, Tokyo, Vietnam and Ukraine for their unwavering support in the advanced rounds and their generous gifts, including sombreros," she said. 

Claire Robertson, Hennie Lui, Edward Watson, Julius Moller, Samara Cassar in Washington DC

Just before the Grand Final win, the team met Benjamin Ferencz, the last surviving prosecutor of the 1940s Nuremberg trials. 

He told the team to remember the power of 'law not war' and said that while it takes courage not to be discouraged by the current state of international law, it is important to 'never give up'.

The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Competition, founded in 1959, is considered the world’s most significant mooting contest. 

More than 600 teams from 95 countries take part in regional rounds for a chance to compete in the White and Case championship rounds held in Washington in April.

Mooting teams are challenged to solve an international controversy based on a fictional dispute before the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations.

This year's Jessup problem involved interpretation of a fictional bilateral treaty and raised legal questions about the meaning and application of customary international law, the law of the sea and use of force.

The UQ team came second in the Australian rounds of the competition at the High Court of Australia in Canberra in February, qualifying as one of the two teams for the rounds in Washington DC. 

Working closely with coaches drawn from previous teams, the 2018 UQ Jessup team was supported through national rounds and an intensive program of training and practice moots over the 2017/2018 semester break.

The School also acknowledges Professor Anthony Cassimatis’ significant contribution to the competition in his role as national coordinator of the Australian rounds.

Media: Caroline Enright, TC Beirne School of Law Communications, media@law.uq.edu.au or +61 7 3365 2596.