The Australian National University (ANU) Ashurst Novice Moot Competition concluded last week, with the grand final conducted over Zoom on Monday 11 October.
The moot, designed for students in the first few years of their study, asked participants to analyse an issue of negligence where the appellant, who slipped in a supermarket store, was suing under the tort of negligence to compensate for the resulting injury.
The grand final judging bench, comprised of Amelia Birnie, Andrew Ray and Dominic Page, was split 2 to 1, giving the win to second-year students Joseph Negrine and Henry Palmerlee. Suzie Ma, Lachlan Houen and Lilli Black were the runners-up in the competition, and Henry Palmerlee was unanimously named ‘Best Speaker’.
Winners: Team 10 (Henry Palmerlee and Joseph Negrine)
“The strength of the novice competition this year was exceptional, with all mooters in the grand final demonstrating excellent legal knowledge and the ability to think quickly on their feet in response to some fairly tricky questions,” competition judge Andrew Ray said.
“It was wonderful to see so many students in both the preliminary rounds and the finals working on developing their e-advocacy skills, which are becoming increasingly essential in modern workplaces.”
Competition organiser Liam Taylor attributed the success of the competition to currently high levels of interest in extracurricular opportunities, and the online competition being more student-friendly, with rounds held outside work hours.
The competition was supported by a large alumni cohort who assisted in judging and providing students with feedback.
“The involvement and buy-in from alumni was excellent,” said Liam, with the remote competition allowing alumni from all across Australia to help judge and mentor the student competitors.
“We had students competing from across state and country borders and it was great to see so many early-year students taking part this year. Hopefully, we can have this cohort go on to compete in senior and intervarsity competitions in future years.”
While extracurricular activities such as mooting can help students further develop these skills, the finalists were quick to emphasise that e-mooting draws on knowledge and skills gained throughout their studies at the ANU College of Law.
“Mooting over Zoom was a natural experience after two years of online classes, and in fact emphasised some of the key skills required for effective advocacy. Clear, measured delivery, effective signposting, and time management were all essential in the virtual format,” said Henry Palmerlee.
Being able to further develop advocacy skills, as well as the opportunity to be questioned by recent graduates, stood out to the finalists as the highlight of the competition.
Runners-up: Team 17 (Suzie Ma, Lachlan Houen and Lilli Black)
“It has been a little bit stressful, but overall, really fun. Being questioned by the bench forced me to understand and engage with the law on a much deeper level, which I appreciated,” Suzie Ma said.
Lilli Black also welcomed the opportunity to put her skills into practice.
“The competition was an amazing opportunity to develop skills such as legal research and verbal reasoning beyond the compulsory first-year law courses. I am definitely inspired to continue mooting throughout my degree,” she said.
For all five finalists, the novice moot competition has helped them showcase skills gained from their law subjects in a practical setting.
“The Novice Moot was a great opportunity to hone my legal research and oral advocacy skills. The experience certainly helped develop my appetite for mooting, and I look forward to competing in future competitions,” Joe Negrine said.
For Lachlan Houen, it was the rapid-fire questions that separated mooting from classroom learning.
“Mooting has given me a greater understanding of the workings of a trial, as well as the advocacy skills necessary to be a barrister. The judges’ questioning in particular challenged me to think on my feet,” he said.