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INTRODUCTION TO MOOTING

What is a Moot?

Mooting is a great way of experiencing what its like to argue cases in court. Mooting is not public
speaking, acting or reading from a script.

Mooting involves a problem question on a disputed point of law. It requires competitors to present their
arguments on the point of law in written submissions and oral advocacy. It is courtroom style, presenting
legal arguments using court etiquette.

Success in mooting requires good legal research, good quality arguments and your advocacy skills. You
do not have to be correct on the law to win a moot.

Each Mooter has a set time to present their legal arguments and answer questions from the judge.
Students will represent either the appellant or respondent. On each side there will be senior and junior
counsel. Senior counsel in a moot is not better than junior counsel, but will be the first to present their
argument.

Mooting allows you to develop the skills of a lawyer and is a great way of showing commitment to the
Bar. You can improve your legal research and advocacy skills, and receive constructive feedback from
barristers who sit as judges. It is a great addition to your CV whether you are an aspiring solicitor or
barrister.
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Judicial Intervention

This is where the judge really tests your knowledge of the facts and the law, and whether you are able
to apply what you know to new scenarios he introduces.

Do not underestimate the importance of judicial intervention. Moots are frequently won or lost on the
quality of the participants response.

You can and you must prepare for judicial intervention.

Think about the most problematic arguments the other side will raise. You should be able to address
these in your submissions but be prepared to expand on these if pushed.

Think also about the religious, political, social, economic and ethical implications of the law you are
discussing.

It is useful to have a chronology or timeline of events in the case, a list of characters, statutory
definitions, and key cases summarised on separate sheets of paper.

Make these and all your notes as clear as possible so you can refer back to them quickly and easily.

Highlight and underline or use whatever method you find most useful to pick out key points and phrases.

When asked a question, stop speaking immediately. Do not panic. Listen very carefully.

Try to deal with the issue the judge has raised right then. Avoid saying I will deal with that later or
similar, just rearrange the order of your points accordingly. This is why you should never be reading out a
speech, but working through short and clear bullet points of your argument, grouped into a handful of
clearly defined submissions. Show the judge that you are confident and flexible enough to go off script
and think on your feet.

Do not interrupt the judge, even if you think he is repeating himself or you are short of time. You can
indicate your readiness to answer the question without further clarification on it through your body
language: a knowing (not arrogant) smile and nod will do, as if to say I thought you might ask that.

Of course, do not do this if you need the extra clarification of the question, and do not hesitate to ask
the judge to clarify if you are unsure what he is asking. He will appreciate your desire to be precise and
as helpful to the court as possible.

Answer the question as succinctly as possible, the judge will ask you for more if necessary, but make
sure you have actually answered the question.
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Take a moment to remember where you were before you return to your submissions. If the judge
interrupted a submission, briefly re-state it to make sure he has heard the beginning of it.
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Written Skeleton

What is a Skeleton Argument?

A skeleton argument is a written document provided to the court in advance, that summarises the issues
to be addressed and the authorities to be relied upon in the case. It is the first opportunity the judge has
to evaluate you as an advocate.

Why are they so important?

Whether you are for the appellant or respondent, the skeleton argument should inform the judge which
side you are on and (if necessary) who is joining you in representing the appellant or the respondent. It
should inform them what you intend to touch on in your time before them.

It helps the court and the judge focus on the most important points of law in the moot. The advocate may
then elaborate on each point mentioned in the skeleton argument, when making his case.

Things to include in the Skeleton

Introduction - a short summary of the overall point that the advocate wishes to put to the court
Concise Summary of the Facts - these should be written with as much brevity as possible
Issues to be decided by the Judge - try to state the issue as a proposition or a short sharp sentence
Relevant Law - state the relevant statutory and common law provisions that you wish to rely on
Submissions - directly try to address the grounds of appeal in your submissions. Each submission will
attempt to further the argument put forward
Conclusion

Important Points

Do not read your skeleton as it is purely for the judges and opposition counsels benefit

Ensure that everything that you put into your skeleton is as concise as possible.

Presentation is very important. You must make sure that the document is paginated and set out using
paragraph numbers and headings.

Structure your points in a logical order.

Throughout the skeleton argument the case names should include the full citation and be italicized.

Further, it is advisable to use the most authoritative citation when creating your skeleton argument.
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Court Etiquette

Introduction (only for Lead Appellant)

The Lead Appellant should introduce the other participants.


1. May it please your Lordship/Ladyship, I am X and along with Y, we are representing the
appellant Z My learned friends A and B will be representing the respondent C
There is no need for the other mooters to reintroduce themselves. The Lead Appellant should
then identify the issue in the case at hand.
2. This case is concerned with the tort of negligence/a breach of contract/the defence of,
namely [hone in, for example, a breach of Cs duty of care to Z]

Then briefly state the facts of the case.


3. The facts are simple and, to a point, not in dispute etc

Submissions (for everyone, starts for the respondents and junior appellant)
4. May it please your Lordship/Ladyship, it will be submitted that the appeal should be
upheld/dismissed [delete as appropriate] on the grounds that ........... This submission relies on 3
propositions, which I shall deal with in turn. They are as follows:
First that.............
Second that ...........
And finally that..

Making Submissions

5. May it please the court/your Lordship/Ladyship, I would now like to make my first submission,
namely
6. May it please your Lordship/Ladyship, I would now like to refer to the case of Donoghue v
Stevenson [Pronounced Donoghue AND Stevenson]Is your Lordship familiar with the facts of
the case?
7. I would like to refer your Lordship/Ladyship to a particular segment of Lord Dennings dictum,
which can be found on p.520, paragraph G (or so many lines from the top/bottom of the page),
the sentence beginning.
8. Per Lord Denning

You then go on and apply the law to the moot. You make your case.
9. With your Lordships/Ladyships permission, I would now like to make my Nth submission/my
conclusion.

Conclusion
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10. In conclusion, I submit that the appeal should be allowed/dismissed on the grounds that... (and
briefly outline your arguments a couple of sentences will suffice).
11. You might want to add something along the lines of To dismiss/allow this appeal would be
to
12. If your Lordship has no further questions, I shall respectfully retire and wait for the nod to sit
down.

Interplay with the Judge

Remember, your role as an advocate is to assist the judge in making their decision. Treat every judge
with the highest of worthiness; they decide who wins.

Your words are for the judges benefit, so keep a watchful eye that they are following your argument
e.g. allow them to find the citation you have pointed them to.

Always stand when addressed or addressing the judge.

Never talk over the judge.

My Lord/Lady where youd use a name.

Your Lordship/Ladyship where youd use you.

Challenging the judge

My Lord/Lady, if I may respectfully continue with this submission, I may address the question more
thoroughly if you feel the judge has interrupted you when youre getting to their point. However, the
judge is probably trying to stop you reading your script so they may force the point and get you to
answer the question then.

With respect my Lord/Lady

General Useful Phrases

I am grateful for your Lordships/Ladyships assistance where the judge corrects you

My Lord/Lady, I submit that........ rather than I believe, or think that.


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I am obliged your Lordship if the judge has defeated your argument, then admit it, however, be sure
of defeat. Sometimes it will be a test.

May I respectfully have a moment My Lord.... (e.g. to confer with my learned senior/junior)

My Lord, I am unable to assist on that point, since I have not read the relevant authority.

The Other Mooters


My learned friend, Mr/Mrs/Miss

or, where appropriate


My learned junior/leader

Respondents may use

It has been the contention of my learned friend that.... However it is my overall contention that this is
not correct because.

Both sides may use (especially cheeky coming from the respondent)
I expect it to be the contention of my learned friendHowever, I would respectfully ask your
Lordship/Ladyship to disregard this submission/case/argument for the following reason(s).

AVOID
OKAY
CHEERS
MATE
I THINK
I BELIEVE
I FEEL
and other colloquialisms.

Dress
Dress should be smart. Suits are ideal, but smart attire will suffice if explained.

Remember
Just because you are advised to use the formalities/etiquette, it does not mean you cannot use
simplified language.
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Legal Research and the Bundle

Legal research skills

Even the most experienced mooters dont know all the law. A key part of mooting is the ability to
research effectively and work out what law applies to the facts given in the problem.

Invariably a moot is set on a piece of law that is uncertain.

Begin by READING the problem.

What is the applicable law?

Start with a decent textbook, read up on the particular legal area and make sure you understand it. The
textbook should point you to some relevant case law (often in the footnotes).

Another good source will be practitioners textbooks:


Archbold, Criminal Law
Clerk and Linsell, The Law of Tort
Chitty, Contract Law
Megarry and Wade, Land Law

Case law
Case law is of vital importance in a moot. You will be citing cases as authority for your proposition.

If you find cases that support a favourable view on the law, you will wish to argue that these are relevant
to the facts in hand or can be applied by analogy (because a similar principle underlies both).

If the cases are unfavourable, you will still need to consider how to distinguish these cases
(demonstrate that the rule does not apply in this instance) so that your opponent cannot rely on them, or
invite the court to overrule them (subject to the rules of precedent).

Case law research requires using a legal database (Westlaw, Lexis, etc) to find the case. You can use
JustCite to check the case is still good law (checking that it hasnt been overturned!), and find
subsequent cases following that decision. This can expand the cases available to rely on.

READ the cases. If you are relying on the cases in your written and oral submissions, then you MUST read
them. Unfortunately we cant rely on the basic information provided about a case in a textbook. In a
moot you need to show research and knowledge of the legal area. A judge may ask what the dissenting
judgment said - if you didnt read the case you may not know.
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Check that the judge you are relying on is not one of a dissenting judge (unless you intend to argue that
their judgment was correct and the actual decision in the case should be overruled).

You can rely on academic articles and textbooks in addition to cases, but as these are only persuasive
they are not always appreciated by the judge.

Articles can be useful to support an argument you wish to make - but ensure you know who wrote the
article as a judge is likely to want to know who the author is and what reputation he/she has as an
academic.

Public policy issues

Its worth remembering that authority is not the only way of arguing a moot. If the case is before the
Supreme Court, where there is freedom to change the direction of the law, it is important to provide
some argument on principle and public policy.

Explain why the law should develop in a particular direction.

Bundle

Authorities (cases) relied on in your submissions need to be presented in a bundle for the judge.

A bundle is a file containing the authorities. Usually this is a photocopy or print of the headnote and
relevant parts of your authorities. You dont need to include the whole case, just the headnote and the
most relevant parts!

The bundle should have a clear index. Use file dividers. If you need to refer to a case, you can then direct
the judge to the appropriate tab in your index. This allows the judge quick and easy access to your
authority.

Use page numbers for ease of reference - the bundle should have page numbers from 1 onwards. Page
numbers should continue throughout the bundle, so do not restart numbering from each file divider.

Cases relied upon should be taken from the most authoritative law report, which is the Official Law
Reports - Appeals Cases (AC), Queens Bench (QB), Family (Fam), Chancery (Ch)
e.g. Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562
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You can highlight the passages you seek to rely on if you wish - this can help you guide the judge to the
appropriate part quickly.

Include a copy of your written skeleton in your bundle - at the front!

You will need a copy of the bundle for the judge, your opponent and yourself for use during the moot.
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Persuasive Advocacy

There is no right way to be a persuasive advocate. Everyone has their own style and not every judge will
like yours.

But there are key tips that every advocate should follow:
90 per cent of being persuasive is being prepared. Expect moot preparation to take time and
invest it. Preparation improves the quality of your arguments and boosts your confidence.
Do not over prepare. Keep it fresh. Never write out a speech unless you then go on to reduce it
to bullet points. This will tie you down and hinder your performance. Plus its boring.
Be polite and respectful at all times to everyone. Opponents included.
Never argue with the judge. If he disagrees with you, he is right, but there may possibly be two
right answers. So stand your ground and help him by rephrasing your argument or explaining it
more fully.
Vary the way you speak. Slow down or change your tone on key points.
Look the judge in the eye, not constantly, but frequently. This will help you gather his reactions
to your submissions and make you appear more confident in what you are saying.
Watch your body language, hands especially. If you cannot keep them still, grab the podium!
Lean slightly forward but stand tall and firm. Do not shuffle back and forth on the spot. But try not
to look rigid with fear either!
You want to project calm confidence, even if you feel anything but. Breathe deeply and
remember your opponents are just as nervous.
Speak too slowly. It will sound silly to you because you know the arguments back to front and
you are conscious of time. The judge needs time to take in what you are saying, which should be
in more depth than what you have written in your skeleton argument.
Pause. Pause for thought. Pause for effect. Pause to indicate the end of a submission. Just pause,
but use your pauses.
Tick off points you have made as you make them. Use a pause to run your eyes over your notes
and check you have not missed something important.