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What is a moot court?

A moot court, or mooting, simulates a real court environment to give law students an opportunity to put their learning into practice.

Moot court covers the appeals process rather than a trial, so there is no jury, witnesses or evidence. Instead, students are given a hypothetical case and will take on the role of either the appellant or respondent. The appellants will speak first, arguing the decision in the original trial was wrong. The respondents will then present their case defending the initial ruling.

Each side must prepare both written and verbal arguments which they will present to a judge, or panel of judges, at the moot trial. After hearing the arguments, the panel will then make a ruling based on these submissions and declare a winner.

How to prepare for mooting?

In order to prepare for moot court, the participants must fully understand the scenario with which they have been presented and create a strong argument to support their case.

Students will first need to thoroughly research the area of law that the case covers. This can often be an area of the law which has recently changed or is unclear. Research will help uncover real cases which can strengthen arguments and also those that oppose it.

Once students have completed the research they build their case and write a skeleton argument. This document outlines the case and is given to the other participants and judges ahead of the moot. The other side also provides a skeleton argument. This helps focus the moot court and provides an opportunity to formulate counterarguments.

Ahead of moot court students will also prepare a trial bundle. This will be submitted to the judge and should include the skeleton argument, as well as any legal submissions the case relies on. The trial bundle should be well presented and thorough. Consider using clearly marked tabs and highlighting significant parts of the text. This can help the judge navigate the document during oral arguments.

The oral argument will be the focus of the moot court, so it is important to fully understand all the key information. However, this is not simply making a speech to the judges. Instead, it is a conversation between advocates and the panel. Try to make and maintain eye contact with the judges. Speak slowly and clearly when making the case and allow the judge a moment to find any articles cited in the trial bundle. During oral presentation a judge may also ask questions or to clarify a point being made, so be prepared to answer the judge’s enquiries.

What is the benefit of a moot court?

The purpose of moot court is to imitate a real-life court environment as closely as possible. Preparing for a moot court enables students to work with peers and develop your legal research skills. Participants will also have to think critically about the law and build robust, persuasive arguments to present during the moot.

In addition, a moot court provides an opportunity to hone courtroom manner and etiquette. Students must learn and use the appropriate courtroom language and ensure they address everyone correctly. Finally, after taking part, participants can reflect on their delivery and refine their approach before the next moot.

How is a moot court different from a real court?

It is worth remembering that moot court is different from a real court. The final decision is not legally binding and will have no impact on the law. It’s always nice to win, but a moot court is a great way to practice law without the pressure of having to change it.

It is common to feel apprehensive or nervous before taking part in a moot trial, but students should use the process to build confidence ahead of the real thing. Many students who moot enjoy the experience, and ultimately thrive in the moot court procedure. Journalist Sarfhaz Manzoor had great fun when he took part in a moot with ULaw students. It even made him lament not pursuing a career in law.

When do you practice mooting?

Law students may take part in a moot court as part of their studies. Many universities also have mooting societies and the moot court is an extracurricular activity for students. The University of Law hosts an annual mooting competition. There are even national and international moot court competitions for those students who just can’t get enough.

Ultimately, participating in a moot court provides students with the perfect opportunity to develop the essential skills needed for a career in the court room and will greatly improve future employability.

 

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