2nd Edinburgh International Willem C Vis Arbitration Pre-Moot

Over the weekend of 23-24 February 2013 Edinburgh Law School welcomed five guest teams from across the world to a Pre-Moot event in preparation for the prestigious Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, which will take place in Vienna 22nd-28th March 2013.  This will be the third time Edinburgh Law School has entered the competition, which is now in its 20th year (and the 10th in Hong Kong) and aims to foster practical legal education in international commercial arbitration and international sales law.  Edinburgh is one of 13 UK law schools and the only Scottish one to enter a team this year.

The Pre-Moo saw teams from universities in New Zealand, Sweden, France and Germany join a multinational team of eight Edinburgh LLM students for a weekend of events to practice their performances ahead of the March competition.

The key aim of the Pre-Moot was to provide students with feedback from the profession in an international setting.  Eminent QCs, arbitrators, advocates, solicitors and academics responded to the call to act as Moot arbitrators, as did former Moot participants.  All kindly gave freely of their time and expertise to support the students, some travelling from afar to join in the Edinburgh Pre-Moot.  The list of moot arbitrators comprises many distinguished practitioners; a full list of moot arbitrators is available on the website of the 2nd Edinburgh Pre-Moot at http://www.law.ed.ac.uk/edinburghvismoot/edinburghpremoot201213.aspx.

The high level of participation from the arbitration and legal communities was noted by participants and coaches and helps distinguish the Edinburgh Pre-Moot from competing events.  It is also one of the few ‘Common Law’ Pre-Moots, with many more such events being held in Civil Law countries.

The Pre-Moot was based on the problem for the 20th Vis Moot and consists of arbitration proceedings in a dispute between parties to a contract for the sale of polo shirts governed by the UN Convention on the International Sale of Goods.  The main issue was whether the use of child labour by the seller (but not in the manufacture of the actual shirts in question) constituted a fundamental breach of contract justifying the buyer’s avoidance of the contract.  A secondary issue concerned liquidated damages for alleged late delivery of the shirts which in turn related to an issue as to whether the sale contract had been modified orally.  There was also a conflict of laws issue and an evidentiary one, the latter concerning the admissibility of a witness statement given by an absentee witness.

The Pre-Moot was formally opened by Professor Emeritus Sir David Edward QC (Honorary President, Scottish Arbitration Centre), who welcomed all participants and encouraged students with guidance and advice.  After an induction for arbitrators into the Moot philosophy and practice by Hew Dundas, students pleaded against each other in front of panels of three arbitrators.  After each performance teams received extensive feedback, to enable them to firmly build upon the experience gained.

The atmosphere over the mooting weekend was charged with excitement, enthusiasm and team spirit on all parts and it was rewarding to see how students assimilated the feedback obtained.  Alongside intensive work, arbitrators and teams had time to meet and mingle, whether at the Moot venue, during the Saturday reception at the Playfair Library in Old College, at dinner, or over informal meetings at the Library Bar. 
The event was only possible due to the generous support of colleagues throughout the profession.  Our gratitude goes to all Pre-Moot arbitrators for enabling this event and for making it such an outstanding success.  Particular thanks are also due to Hew Dundas for his hands-on support with this event and throughout the years.  We are also very grateful to our sponsors Hogan Lovells International LLP, Terra Firma Chambers, The Scottish Arbitration Centre and Skyscanner.

The date for next year’s Edinburgh Pre-Moot is set for 15th/16th March 2014.   Please save the date. 

Arbitration practitioners or academics with interest in international commercial arbitration and/or international sales law and who would like to be informed/involved in future events and are not yet on our mailing list are encouraged to contact the Edinburgh Vis Moot Organisers.

For further information, including a full list or arbitrators please visit the Edinburgh Vis Moot website http://www.law.ed.ac.uk/edinburghvismoot, or contact Dr Simone Lamont-Black (Simone.Lamont-Black@ed.ac.uk) or Neil Dowers (N.A.Dowers@sms.ed.ac.uk).