The University of Pretoria’s (UP) Moot Society team has placed 32nd out of 387 international teams in the recently held Willem C Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot competition.
The contest, which is one of the largest arbitration-based moot courts, was held virtually in response to COVID-19 and included more than 2 500 participants in 2020. It was the first venture by a Faculty of Law (UP Law) Moot Society team into the area of international arbitration.
“The team placed above universities such as the University of Cambridge, Brooklyn Law School, Harvard Law School and the University of Mannheim,” said coach Kiranteba Coetzee. “UP Moot was the only South African team to proceed to the elimination rounds, accompanied only by one other African university.
UP Law Dean Professor Elsabe Schoeman congratulated and thanked the team for its dedication and efforts over the past six months. “UP Law is proud of each and every UP Moot Society team that continues to fly our flag high at national and international level. Beating internationally reputable and highly esteemed law schools to achieve 32nd place is no small feat. In fact, it is testimony that UP Law is a law school force to be reckoned with internationally. Hats off to all involved!”
Julia Tosi, 2019/21 Chairperson of the UP Moot Society, also commended team members for their outstanding performance. “We are so proud of our team for taking up the challenge of competing and placing so well in not only our first-ever arbitration moot, but one of the biggest international moot court competitions!”
Apart from feeling elated about their placing, most team members found the competition to be an enriching experience in terms of growth and development.
“Six months ago when I signed up for this competition, I had no idea what I was getting into,” said Abi Ashfield. “The team supported my growth as a mooter and gave me every opportunity to enjoy the competition and interact with other students from across the globe. A personal highlight was the European pre-moot – everyone was so welcoming and kind, even though it was our first time competing. Participating in the Vis Moot will be an experience I will never forget.”
For Kgomela Letsoalo, the competition proved to be a profound learning experience. “I’d like to thank the team for all the help they have given me over the past six months,” he said. “Their comments and feedback have been very helpful towards improving both my written and oral arguments. Their assistance has been invaluable in us becoming familiar with the field of arbitration.”
Keeghan Smith agrees. “The knowledge and experience we have been gifted has been monumental. The pre-moots were a highlight. Observing how all the different countries present and arbitrate was amazing and enriching. The UP Law Vis team instilled the confidence in me that allowed me to participate in my first moot and orate. Vis has opened my eyes to the world of international arbitration and has given me something to aim towards and work for.”
The team dedicates its achievement to the late Prof Christof Heyns, who they describe as being the driving force behind UP’s Moot Society, having promoted and financially assisted teams as part of his mission to internationalise UP Law.
The faculty had a message for him: “Prof Heyns, you have touched the lives of so many mooters in so many ways. Over many years, UP Law mooters have been enthused by your commitment, drive, grace, guidance, passion and endless wisdom. Your legacy will live forever in the hearts of UP Law mooters. Rest in peace.”
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