Volume 3, Issue 1, (Originally Published on Monday 4 March 2013)
The Jessup 2013 team made it through to the semi-finals of the 54th Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, with team member and second-year JD Doug Porteous earning
‘Best Oralist in the Australian Rounds’.
The Melbourne Law School team, consisting of Nicholas Boyd-Caine, Rachel Macleod, Sophie Molyneux, Doug Porteous and Shawn Rajanayagam, spent the summer preparing and arguing a case in the world’s largest mooting competition, with over 550 law schools in more than 80 countries participating.
The Melbourne team went undefeated until the semi-finals, scoring second highest in the preliminary rounds.
The journey ended after a very close moot against the University of Sydney in the ACT Supreme Court. Sydney went on to defeat the University of Western Australia in the Grand Final, held in the
High Court before a bench presided over by the Honourable Justice J.D. Heydon.
This year’s competition was beset by a large number of administrative errors, resulting in an incorrect finals draw. A number of universities were unwilling to re-run the finals, and the International Administrators eventually decided that UNSW and Murdoch University should join Sydney and UWA at the International Rounds in Washington, D.C., to be held from 31 March – 6 April 2013.
The Melbourne team presented an exhibition moot earlier in January 2013, presided over by the Hon. Michael Black AC QC, former Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia. Other members of the bench were the Hon. Justice Marcia Neave AO of the Supreme Court of Victoria Court of Appeal; the Hon. Ray Finkelstein QC, former justice of the FCA; the Hon. Bernard Bongiorno AO, former justice of the Victorian Court of Appeal; and MLS Associate Professor Margaret Young, who was also the Jessup team’s faculty adviser.
The exhibition moot bench were unanimous in their praise of the students’ quality of oral arguments, in addition to the quality of their written memorials.
This year’s problem involved two fictional states, Alfurna and Rutasia, in a dispute before the International Court of Justice and a wide array of subject matters – climate change, statehood, laws of asylum, human rights and sovereign debt.
The competition required the teams to make submissions on four issues, both as the applicant and as the respondent. The question revolved around whether Alfurna, which had to abandon its home islands due to climate change, could remain a state with only a restrictive lease over another island (maybe); whether the Alfurnans who arrived ‘illegally’ in Rutasian waters had a claim for prospective status in international law (no); whether their treatment by Rutasia, where many Alfurnans fled, and a proposed transfer to a third country violated international law (absolutely); and whether the seizure of Alfurna’s assets following its default on a loan was legal (nobody knows).
The Jessup team expressed their thanks to (the Hon.) Alex Maschmedt, a final-year JD student from last year’s Jessup team, and Professor Young, for their support, constructive criticism and insight into international law.