LL.M. International Commercial Arbitration Moot Competition

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Answer to question submitted to committee regarding 2013 competition rules:

Can a team designate different persons as desk counsel for different rounds or for different sides so that everyone gets a chance to argue the case?

According to rule 3.1, a “team” can be composed of up to three students (advocates), with an added, optional desk counsel (total of four students). Therefore, the desk counsel is an additional member and is not allowed to present oral arguments. The desk counsel shares all the team’s responsibilities except for presenting oral arguments. The desk counsel may additionally aide the advocate during the presentation by taking notes and keeping time. Each school is welcome to register 2 teams to allow a larger number of students to actively participate.


2013 Competition Rules


Case: means the hypothetical controversy submitted to the arbitration procedure, as written under the direction of the Competition Committee.

Competition: means the LL.M. International Commercial Arbitration Moot Competition 2013.

Competition Committee: comprises one person from the International Legal Studies Program, one person from the LL.M Executive Board, three persons from the Center on International Commercial Arbitration and the authors of the arbitration problem.

Competitor: means an individual member of a team, who meets all the eligibility requirements.

Coach: means an official team member who plays an advisory role to the competitors.

Hearing: means the single match between two participating teams.

Participant team: means the team that has officially registered to attend and compete in the competition, and which all the members meet all the requirements to participate in the Moot Competition.

Argument Outline: means a basic outline, which sets out the legal arguments that the team is going to use during their oral argument in the hearings.

Role: means either the Claimant or the Respondent.

Team member: refers to the students and the coach that constitute a participant team.

Team number: means the number assigned to each participating team for identification purposes.

1. Registration

1.1 Registration Form
Participants must register by submitting the registration form to the Washington College of Law Center on International Commercial Arbitration. The competition will be limited to the first 28 teams to register. The registration form may be submitted by e-mail. Registrations will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. EST, January 18, 2013. A later date for registration may be negotiated with the Competition Committee if an open space remains and there is sufficient time for a team to adequately prepare for the moot.

1.2 Registration Fee
The registration fee of $450 per team ($800 for two teams) must be paid by January 18, 2013. Payment can be made by credit card, check or wire transfer.

The registration fee will cover the welcome reception, award ceremony reception, and light lunches on March 8th and 9th. Teams will be responsible for the arrangement and funding of their own flights, accommodations and travel expenses.

1.3 Team Contact Person
The registration form includes space for the name and e-mail address of the Team Contact Person. The Team Contact Person can either be the Team Coach or a member of the team. The Team Contact Person will be sent:

  • The team's individual Team Number;
  • The argument outlines from your opposing teams;
  • Any other relevant organizational material; and
  • Results of the moot.

The Team Contact Person is expected to:

  • Have email and Internet access;
  • Check the e-mail and moot website frequently, particularly as the oral rounds approach; and
  • Be responsible for efficiently distributing all mooting materials to the team members.

Communication between the team and the organizers that is initiated by any person other than the Team Contact Person will be done at the team's own risk. If, for any reason, the Team Contact Person is unable to fulfill their required duties, it is the team's responsibility to select a new Team Contact Person and notify the Competition Committee immediately.

1.4 Withdrawal of Registration
A team may withdraw from the competition at any time before 5:00 p.m. EST, January 18, 2013. After that point, the Registration Fee is non-refundable.

If a team is unable to participate for any reason, it should notify the Competition Committee in a timely manner.

2. The Problem

The LL.M. International Commercial Arbitration Moot Competition will alternate every year between a problem involving an International Commercial Dispute and a problem arising out of an investment protection law or BIT provision.

2.1 Subject Matter
The LL.M. Moot Competition in 2013 will involve an International Commercial Dispute.

2.2 Dispute Settlement
The problem has been referred to an Arbitral Tribunal pursuant to the rules stipulated in the problem. All States involved are parties to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.

2.3 The Competition
By the time the moot begins, the claimant will have filed its request for arbitration and preliminary submissions, the respondent will have filed its preliminary submissions, and the Arbitral Tribunal, which consists of three arbitrators, will have been appointed. The Problem will consist of the preliminary submissions with their exhibits, plus any orders of the Arbitral Tribunal issued prior to the date on which the problem is distributed.

The moot involves the submission of an argument outline for BOTH the claimant AND the respondent and the presentation of oral arguments in support of both positions in different hearings over the course of the competition.

2.4 Distribution
The problem will be distributed on September 15, 2012 on the WCL Moot Web Site: http://www.wcl.american.edu/arbitration/llm_competition.

2.5 Facts
The facts of the dispute will be released with the problem. Teams are not allowed to introduce any additional facts or evidence into the moot unless they are necessary and logical extensions of the given facts.

2.6 Clarifications
Any requests for clarification of the problem may be sent to the Competition Committee before midday EST, December 3, 2012. Requests for clarification should be sent by e-mail to arbitration@wcl.american.edu.

Requests for clarifications should:

  • Cite the page number of the problem to which their request relates;
  • Be limited to matters that would appear to have legal significance in the context of the problem (not simple typographical errors, for example).
  • Include a short explanation of the expected significance of the clarification.
  • Clarifications issued will be distributed to all teams by January 15, 2013 by posting on the Arbitration Moot website. Clarifications issued will become part of the problem.

3. Teams

3.1 Composition
Each participating law school may enter up to two teams. A team can be composed of up to three students, with an added, optional desk counsel. The desk counsel, who shares all the team's responsibilities except for presenting oral arguments, will be considered a formal member of the participating team. The desk counsel may additionally aide the advocate during the presentation by taking notes and keeping time.

Team members must be enrolled in a Master of Laws (LL.M.) program. J.S.D. and S.J.D. students are also eligible to participate. However, a team can be composed of no more than one JSDs or SJD candidate. 

Team members must be enrolled in a Master of Laws (LL.M.) program. Students who have completed their studies (through the completion of the required units necessary for the awarding of the LL.M. degree) by December 2012 are unable to be part of a team.

3.2 Participation
In each of the oral hearings, two members of the team must present the argument. Though the desk counsel may aide the team's oral advocate by keeping notes and time during the presentation, other members are prohibited from helping. Participants shall have no communication with the members of the public while they are arguing. Participants are further prohibited from the use of laptops, cellphones or other electronic communication devices to support their oral argument. However, participants may use a watch for the purposes of keeping time.

Participation certificates will be issued to team members who attend the oral hearings of the competition.

4. Argument Outline

4.1 Argument Outline
All members of the team (but no one outside the team) may participate in the preparation of the written Argument Outline.

Each team must submit an Argument Outline in support of the legal position of both the claimant and the respondent.

Each team must submit an electronic version of both of their Argument Outlines by email to the Competition Committee on or before 11:59 p.m. EST, February 8, 2013.

All teams will receive the outlines of the teams they are scheduled to argue against in the oral rounds by email at least two weeks prior to the competition.

4.2 Form, length and style
The Argument Outline must contain all arguments that the participants plan to use in their oral arguments.

Outlines may be no longer than 5 double-spaced, 8.5 x 11 inch or A4 typed pages.

The cover page and table of contents page are excluded from the 5 page limit.

No type style smaller than New Times Roman 12 point is to be used.

4.3 Requirements for electronic version of the Outlines
Each team must submit each electronic Argument Outline as one document in electronic form with a cover page that contains only the team moot number and whether the outline is for the claimant or the respondent.

All components of the outline, including cover page and contents pages, are to be part of the one document. The document should be titled with a filename that identifies the team number and the side argued without requiring the document to be opened. E.g., ‘Team 1 Outline for Claimant'.

5. Oral Hearings

5.1 Venue
The oral hearings will take place at American University Washington College of Law. The hearings will be held in university classrooms that have sufficient space to hold a table for each party and for the arbitrators to be seated at a table in U formation.

5.2 General Rounds
The general rounds will be held on Friday March 8th, 2013. Each team will argue at least two times, at the minimum once as claimant and once as respondent, in the general rounds.

The Competition Committee will publish the timetable for the general rounds on the moot website by March 1st, 2013. Each team will receive the outline of the opposing teams for the general rounds by February 25, 2013. The Competition Committee reserves the right to make any last minute changes, which may be necessary due to circumstances beyond the Committee's control.

The Competition Committee will provide the tribunal with the rules of the competition, the problem, any clarifications, analysis of the problem, and an oral evaluation form. The tribunal will also be provided with the outlines of each team participating during the general rounds.

5.3 Duration of Presentation
The oral presentation of each team is thirty minutes. The team must allocate the time equitably so that each team member speaks for the same amount of time (+/- 2 minutes). At the beginning of the hearings, teams should announce the time allocation to the panel, including any time to be reserved for rebuttal and sur-rebuttal.

The tribunal may allow teams to exceed the overall time limit so long as neither team is allowed more than forty-five minutes to present its arguments. This limit includes the time required to answer questions posed by the tribunal.

5.4 Argument Outline
In the first oral hearing, advocates are expected to only use the arguments they have already submitted in writing or to justify any noticeable deviations from them. After the first hearing, however, the speakers may modify their arguments.

5.5 Arbitrators
In the general rounds, no member of an Arbitral Tribunal may judge a team arguing for the same side in a subsequent hearing. Arbitrators are also expected to simulate a real arbitration, including maintaining independence and impartiality. Though possible conflicts of interest between the arbitrators and participants may arise without the previous knowledge of the Competition Committee, the Committee assumes no risk, except that the arbitrators will act with impartiality if they cannot be reassigned.

5.6 Order of Presentation
It shall be left to the discretion of the parties in each hearing to determine the order in which the teams will present the case. If there is no consensus, then the arbitrators will make the decision.

5.7 Scoring
Each of the three arbitrators sitting on an arbitral panel must individually assess the oral advocate and each award a score between 0 and 30. This total score reflects the tally of points obtained by each advocate in the following categories: Overall Presentation, Structure of Argument, and Preparation and Familiarity with Material. An advocate can earn up to 10 points in each of these categories, with 0 as the lowest score.

To determine the score of teams, the arbitrators will add the points obtained by both speakers on each team. An Oral Argument Evaluation Form, prepared by the Competition Committee, will be supplied to each arbitrator to further explain each of these categories. The arbitrators will then indicate the winning team on the scoring sheets.

The team with the highest total score will be considered the winning team. In the event of a tie, the arbitrators will award one extra point to the best team to determine a winner.

In order to be eligible for the prize for Best Oralist, a participant must have argued at least once for the claimant and once for the respondent in the general rounds specifically.

5.8 Absent team
A moot should only proceed if both speakers for both teams are present. If both speakers for a team are not present by 15 minutes after the published start time of the moot, the present team will automatically win that round and receive one point. However, the speakers present must continue with their presentation and the arbitrator will decide how to distribute the remaining points.

5.9 Evaluation Criteria
The Arbitration Panel will score each oral advocate based on his or her ability to argue the legal position assigned. The Arbitration Panel will take into consideration the following items:

  • Overall Presentation: Confidence; delivery; voice; clarity; word choice; eye contact; enthusiasm; poise; deference toward the tribunal; gestures; ability to engage the tribunal; time management; ability to respond directly and clearly; logic of responses; and composure under questioning.

    Since English is not the first language of many of the participants arbitrators are advised to focus on the ability of the participants to communicate ideas effectively. Arbitrators should not penalize participants so long as the grammatical and pronunciation mistakes do not affect comprehension.

  • Structure and Strength of Argument: Clear, logical, and persuasive organization of argument; focus on the most compelling arguments; transition between arguments; strong conclusion.

  • Preparation and Familiarity with Material: Knowledge of the record, relevant law, and policy implications; use of authority; responsiveness to opposing counsel; application of law and policy to facts.

5.10 Quarter-final Round
The eight highest ranked teams at the conclusion of the general rounds will compete in the quarter-final round on the afternoon of Saturday, March 9th, 2013.

For the purposes of the quarter-final round, the highest ranked team in the general rounds will be paired with the lowest ranked team, the second with the second lowest, etc. That is the finalists will be paired as follows:

1 v. 8
2 v. 7
3 v. 6
4 v. 5

If teams drawn to meet one another in a quarter-final round have not previously met in the general rounds, then the decision as to which team will be claimant and which will be respondent will be determined by a coin flip (the team that was ranked highest in the general rounds will call the toss).

The winner of the toss will have 5 minutes to decide the party for which it wishes to argue in the quarter-final round. If two teams drawn to meet in a quarter-final round have met previously in the general rounds, they will argue for the opposite party in the quarter-final.

After each round finishes, the team representative of each party will have 30 minutes to go to the Moot Competition Office to inquire about the result of the round. If needed, the coin flip will occur shortly thereafter. If one team does not arrive at the Office, it will forfeit the ability to choose and the other team will decide which side to argue.

5.11 Semi-Final Round
The four winning teams at the end of the quarter-final round will meet in the semi-final round on Saturday March 9th, 2013.

The winner of 1 v. 8 will compete against the winner of 4 v. 5. The winner of 2 v. 7 will compete against the winner of 3 v. 6.

The teams drawn to meet in any semi-final round will argue for the opposite party for which they argued in the preceding round.

If both teams drawn to meet in any semi-final round argued for the claimant or both for the respondent in the quarter-final rounds, the decision as to which team will be claimant and which will be respondent for that semi-final round will be determined by a coin flip (the team that was ranked highest in the general rounds will call the toss). The winner of the toss will have 5 minutes to decide the party for which it wishes to argue in the semi-final round, unless the two teams drawn to meet in the semi-final round have met previously in the general rounds or the quarter-final round. Instead, they will argue for the opposite party in the semi-final. After each round finishes, the team representative of each party will have thirty minutes to go to the Moot Competition Office to inquire about the result of the round. If needed, the coin flip will occur shortly thereafter. Again, if one team does not present itself to the office, it will forfeit its ability to choose which side to argue.

5.12 Final Round
The two winning teams in the semi-final round will meet in the final round in the afternoon/evening of Saturday March 9th, 2013.

After each semi-final round finishes, the team representative of each party will have thirty minutes to go to the Moot Competition Office to inquire about the result of the round. If needed, the coin flip will occur shortly thereafter, and the teams are bound to the same rule of arriving to the office for the coin toss. The coin flip will determine which team argues for which party (the team that was ranked highest in the general rounds will call the toss). The winner of the toss will have 10 minutes to decide the party for which it wishes to argue in the Final Round.

Teams shall exchange their written outlines (no longer than 5 pages) one hour before the hearing.

5.13 Winning Team
The winning team of the oral hearings of the moot is the team that wins the Final Round. The winning team will be announced at the awards ceremony.

6. Assistance

6.1 Written Outline
The written outline must be the team's work. Law school staff and coaches should restrict their advice to general matters and should not take over the production and writing of the Outline.

6.2 Oral Hearings
There is no restriction to the amount of coaching a team may receive in preparation for the oral hearings. However, once the hearing has commenced, no assistance by the team members or any other person can be given, barring the specific responsibilities of the desk counsel.

Team members are not allowed to attend other moot hearings for a team you are scheduled to compete. This rule applies to friends or family of team members, as well as their teachers or coaches.

Videotaping of any moot is not permitted except for the grand final.

7. Awards

Best Team and Runner up
Best Oralist and Runner up
Honorable Mentions

8. Interpretation of the Rules

Requests for interpretation of the rules may be addressed with the Competition Committee. All interpretations as well as any waivers, consents or other decisions concerning the moot competition are within the sole discretion of the Competition Committee. There is no right of appeal from the decisions of the Competition Committee.

8.1 Failure to comply with rules
Failure to observe the rules of conduct may involve disqualification of the team, some of its members, or disqualification from any awards.