ANU students turn in premium performance to win AILA Insurance Law Moot

ANU College of Law students (l to r) Dimitrios Bezos, Raf Priest, Zachary Oakes and Charlie Yu.
ANU College of Law students (l to r) Dimitrios Bezos, Raf Priest, Zachary Oakes and Charlie Yu were crowned champions in the inaugural AILA Insurance Law Moot.

Translating what we learn in an academic setting into a practical scenario is a great challenge and test of your abilities.

A team of law students from The Australian National University (ANU) has won a prestigious national insurance law mooting competition after overcoming the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in the grand final. 

Sponsored by the Australian Insurance Law Association (AILA), the inaugural mooting competition’s decider was held at the Sydney offices of Sparke Helmore Lawyers on 10 August 2022. Coached by ANU College of Law alumnus and visiting fellow Andrew Ray (BSc, LLB (Hons) ’20), the team comprised Charlie Yu, Zachary Oakes, Dimitrios Bezos and Raf Priest. 

Charlie, who previously competed in the Ashurst Senior Moot Competition, said the students jumped at the chance upon learning about the competition from then director of mooting, Associate Professor Kate Ogg

“I thought I’d take another crack at it (mooting) and it worked out really well,” said Charlie. 

“One of the highlights was the camaraderie. We persisted through tough times including exams and some of us having COVID at different periods throughout the competition. Our collaboration was instrumental to our success.” 

As the only insurance law moot competition in Australia, the grand final’s problem centred on who was at fault for the burning down of a motorcycle business. After reviewing the problem question, Team ANU had a week to formulate their written submissions. Two days before the grand final, they received Team UNSW’s written submission. 

“As a team and individually, we were able to develop our communication and collaboration skills along with our knowledge of the law. When you get your submissions down on paper and make your case before professionals from the field, it’s a really rewarding feeling,” said Dimitrios. 

The competition aims to connect law students with the insurance industry at an early stage, and develop the practical skills of future industry professionals. The moot questions were developed by insurance lawyers based upon legal issues that commonly arise in insurance matters. 

Reflecting on the experience, Zachary said the opportunity to hone their legal skills before industry leaders had been “invaluable”. 

“While mooting is demanding, you can fit it into your studies. Translating what we learn in an academic setting into a practical scenario is a great challenge and test of your abilities,” he said.  

“The networking with students and professionals that was part of this competition also made it such an invaluable experience. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.” 

ANU College of Law students Zachary Oakes (left) and Raf Priest compete in the AILA Insurance Law Moot grand final in Sydney on 10 August 2022.

The judges in the grand final – Timothy Smartt (Barrister, Tenth Floor Chambers), David Lee (Partner, Clyde & Co.), and Belinda Michalk (Partner, Sparke Helmore Lawyers) – put the students to the sword in the final, although they were equal to the task courtesy of their expert coaching. 

“Having Andrew (Ray) as a judge during our practice moots meant that when we had the ‘interventionist’ judge in the final we weren’t fazed at all. We had a lot of good preparation and were able to think on our feet during the competition,” said Raf. 

The students also kept their focus on an unlikely goal in the competitive world of mooting: to have fun. 

“We had the mindset that we wanted to have fun, much like you might play sport for enjoyment. Being aware of the rewarding pay-off made it a lot easier and gave us an edge,” Raf added. 

As winners, the ANU students will receive tickets to the AILA annual luminaries dinner to be held later this year where they look forward to networking and seeking career guidance from a variety of pre-eminent figures within the insurance industry. 

Interested in mooting? Learn more about opportunities at the ANU College of Law here

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team