ANU Law students win 2023 Kirby Contract Law Moot Competition
Kirby Contract Law Moot: Team ANU

Team ANU, (l to r) Bita Mahani, Jake Fitzgerald, Felix Archibald and Max Robson, celebrate with their awards after triumphing in the Kirby Contract Law Moot Competition hosted at Victoria University.

Being able to apply the law to a novel scenario is incredibly effective in enabling students to understand the human impacts and applications of the law.

Teamwork, advocacy and sharp legal minds have guided four law students from The Australian National University (ANU) to victory at the 11th annual Kirby Contract Law Moot Competition hosted at Victoria University in Melbourne.

The winning team, consisting of law students Felix Archibald, Jake Fitzgerald, Bita Mahani and Max Robson, edged out Bond University in the grand final. In addition to being crowned overall winners, Team ANU also received numerous awards including: Highest-Scoring Team in the General Rounds; Best Respondent Memorandum; Best Oralist in the Grand Final (Max Robson); and Highest-Scoring Oralist in the General Rounds (Bita Mahani).

Held from 25 to 28 September, the competition attracted 21 teams from across Australia and is one of the country’s largest moot court competitions. Established in 2011 and named in honour of retired High Court of Australia Justice, the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, it is Australia’s only contract law mooting competition.

“The most rewarding aspect of the moot was having the ability to hone my advocacy skills through engaging with an incredible pool of legal talent and some inspiring, passionate peers from around the country,” said Bita, a second-year Bachelor of International Relations/Laws (Hons) student.

“The legal issues presented by the moot problem were enriching and challenged us to explore every angle in our submissions, which enabled us to push ourselves and grow closer as a team.”

Under the guidance of coach and visiting fellow Andrew Ray (BSc, LLB (Hons) ’20), the team honed their skills in the months leading up to the competition by preparing detailed written submissions regarding the relevant contractual law principles. This included researching relevant cases from Australia and the United Kingdom to help advance both sides of the case.

Once submissions were complete, the team practiced in a series of moots judged by an array of ANU alumni, staff and friends of the ANU College of Law including Andrew O'Beid, Counsel at the Australian Government Solicitor; Madeleine Castles (BA ’18, LLB (Hons) ‘21) and Lorenzo McMiken (BPolPhEc, LLB (Hons) ’21), both lawyers at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers; James Fisher, Director of Moots and Competitions at the ANU College of Law; and Jeremy Brown a final year student from Monash University.

Mr Ray said he was particularly impressed with the students’ dedication throughout every stage of the competition.

“It was especially impressive to see all team members embrace both the research and writing aspects as well as the advocacy aspects of the competition. The work that all of the team put in was rewarded throughout the competition,” he said.

Felix Archibald competes in the grand final won by ANU against Bond University. Photo: Image Play

Max also credited the team’s meticulous preparation, including countless practice moots and thorough editing of written memoranda, for laying a solid foundation for the students’ success in the prestigious competition.

“The most rewarding part was the opportunity to, in a positive and supportive environment, really explore what it means to be a persuasive advocate,” said Max, a third-year Bachelor of Science/Laws (Hons) student.

“Across the preparation window the team spent many hours fine-tuning legal arguments in both written and oral form. It was invaluable to get so much feedback on the quality of our presentation in real time - it allowed us to experiment with, develop, and test run our own unique styles of advocacy,” he added.

Despite their impressive haul of awards, the students insist one of the biggest rewards of participating in competitions such as the Kirby Contract Law Moot is the newfound confidence of honing their skills in advocacy, research and collaboration.

“I cannot stress enough how beneficial mooting is in bringing the law to life. Being able to apply the law to a novel scenario is incredibly effective in enabling students to understand the human impacts and applications of the law,” said Bita.

“Further, mooting is not only a great way to develop one's research and advocacy skills, but a lovely way of meeting likeminded individuals and legal professionals as well.”

The Kirby team’s victory builds on the momentum of international success for the ANU College of Law at the 2023 Oxford International Intellectual Property Law Moot. The Oxford team, comprising Felix Archibald, Daniel Marns and Max Robson and coached by Andrew Ray, progressed to the quarter-finals and placed third out of nearly 80 teams representing many of the world’s top law schools for their written submissions in the competition.

Interested in making your mark in mooting? Learn more about how to get involved here.