Students from the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law (NUS Law) had emerged winners at the Allen & Overy Private Law Moot Competition, which was held from 20 to 22 May at University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney. This is the first time that a team from Singapore has won this prestigious university mooting competition.
Into its fourth year, this competition is Australia’s only intervarsity mooting competition with private law as its subject area, and it brings together some of the best mooters from Australia and around the world to compete at UNSW. This year, a total of 13 teams from 10 law schools - including two teams from NUS Law and one team from another local university - participated in the competition.
Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of NUS Law said, “Mooting offers a chance for law students to test their skills in an environment very much like the courtrooms in which they will practice. We are tremendously proud of our students’ achievements — and their enthusiasm about testing themselves against other outstanding law students around the world. This private law moot, supported by one of the top international law firms, was a new challenge and I am delighted that Nicholas, Yan Yu and the two Joshuas were triumphant. Hats off also to Serene, Boon Choon, Ern Xu and Ee Ning for doing so well also.”
The winning team – comprising Nicholas Ng Wei Jie, Kiu Yan Yu, Joshua Phang and Joshua Foo – prevailed against the team from the University of Otago. Prior to the finals, they had put up a strong performance throughout the competition, beating teams from the University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, UNSW and University of the South Pacific in the preliminary rounds. They also had a very close fight with the second NUS Law team in the semi-finals. Joshua Phang was also declared as the best speaker in the Grand Final.
The second team from NUS Law comprising Chee Yi Wen, Serene, Lim Boon Choon, Seah Ern Xu and Low Ee Ning, competed in four preliminary round moots against the teams from the University of Otago, UNSW, Lahore University of Management Sciences, and University of Sydney.
The Allen & Overy Private Law Moot focuses specifically on private law and commercial topics. Teams have to demonstrate commerciality and a deep interest in private law over four preliminary rounds of mooting, followed by two knockout finals rounds.
The Grand Final featured an eminent bench which comprised the following: The Honourable Justice Patricia Bergin, International Judge of the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) and former Chief Judge in Equity of the New South Wales Supreme Court; Professor Simone Degeling, Equity Professor at UNSW; and Mr John Samaha, Litigation Partner at Allen & Overy.
The teams debated on the moot problem which involved complex issues pertaining to equity and fiduciary law in Australia. The NUS Law team eventually won over the judges with their compelling arguments, including fiduciary duties relating to the provision of financial advice, valuation of equitable compensation for loss of a chance, and the principles governing the award of an account of profits in lieu of a proprietary remedy.
The competition organisers noted that this was the first time in the history of the competition that clause 52 (a stipulation that exists to avoid a Grand Final where both sides are represented by the same university) had been invoked – a testament to the extremely high quality of both NUS teams. The top four finishes for both teams was the result of the effort that both teams had put into the competition while juggling their various internship commitments.
"We all had to think on our feet as the bench knew the relevant cases very well. The bench repeatedly asked difficult questions throughout the preliminary rounds, semi-final and final. Personally, I am thankful that we could work well together as a team and I am also very grateful for the support that we had from friends and tutors. Our team would also like to extend our appreciation to our coach," said Joshua Phang, the Best Speaker in the Grand Final.
This latest win by NUS Law students adds to the school’s rich mooting tradition. Teams from NUS Law have recently won the inaugural Blackoak Transactional Competition in May, the 8th Leiden Sarin International Air Law Moot Court Competition in April, the Asia-Pacific Regional Rounds of the International Air and Space Law Academy (IASLA) Space Moot Competition 2017 in April, and the Lex Infinitum 2017 in January.