European Law Moot Court Team Wins Best Commission Representative Award in All-European Final in Luxembourg

The European Law Moot Court (ELMC) is an international competition focusing on European Union law, in which students write briefs and plead both in English and French. Each year, teams from all around the world participate to the ELMC competition, including from Columbia, Boston College, and Harvard law schools.

This year, it was only the second time that WCL registered a team. It was composed of four third-year law students: Sârra-Tilila Bounfour, Lillian Cuadra, Ramon Hernandez, and Caitlin O’Leary. The team was sponsored by Prof. Fernanda Nicola, who teaches European Union law at WCL. The ELMC team also received extensive support from their coach, Dr. Tamara Takacs, visiting professor at WCL this semester, for the preparation of oral pleadings.

The competition starts in September when the fact pattern is released. Participating teams have until November to write and send their briefs, one for the applicant and one for the defendant. In January, 48 teams are selected to move to the oral phase and compete in one of four regional finals. Teams have three pleaders representing respectively the applicant, the defendant, and either the European Commission or the Advocate General. The fourth member of the team serves as counsel to the applicant and the defendant, and may plead if the team advances further in the competition.

The best applicant-defendant duo and best commission representative or advocate-general in each regional final then gets the chance to compete in the All-European Final that takes place in Luxembourg. They plead at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) before a bench that may include judges of the Court, judges of the General Court, judges of the Civil Service Tribunals, and Advocate Generals.

This year, the ELMC team worked on a case involving two requests for a preliminary ruling by the CJEU from the national courts of a fictitious state called Mandulinia. The team had to answer questions of interpretation of European Union law, including the Audiovisual Media Services directive, with regard to a fictitious law that prohibited extremist political speech in broadcasting.

The team was selected on the basis of its briefs to compete in a Regional Final in Dublin at the end of February. The ELMC team prepared for three weeks with their coach, Dr. Takacs, who helped the students write their oral submissions and moot intensively. Lillian Cuadra, pleading for the defendant, and Ramon Hernandez, pleading for the applicant, with the assistance of their counsel Caitlin O’Leary finished fifth in the Regional Final. Sârra-Tilila Bounfour, competing as the Commission representative, advanced to the second day of pleadings in Dublin and won, allowing her to advance to the All-European Final.

On April 1, Ms. Bounfour pleaded at the Court of Justice of the European Union before a three-member panel including Advocate General Juliane Kokott who received a LLM from the Washington College of Law. Ms. Bounfour won the Best Commission Representative Award. The other participating team included K.U. Leuven, which had won in Dublin and advanced to the final, Columbia Law School, a London school of barristers, College of Europe in Bruges, the University of Luxembourg, and Zagreb University that won the final and the Best Advocate General Award.