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Located at a crossroads of global, regional, and national interests, contemporary international law affects almost all spheres of society. The School of International Law keeps pace with significant international events and legal adjudication in order to provide hands-on education that prepares future lawyers and legal scholars for the demands of the current legal landscape. The School is at once a ‘think tank’ that provides expert analysis and a producer of top legal experts and lawyers in international law.
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Willem С. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot is a model of proceedings in international commercial arbitration for disputes arising from a contract of sale between two countries that are parties to the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. The purpose of the competition is to encourage students to study international commercial law and arbitration, as well as to provide students with the opportunity to gain practical experience and participate in the resolution of international business disputes.
The competition was established in Vienna in 1994, with a sister Vis East moot established in Hong Kong in 2004. Considering the rise of international arbitration in Asia, this year the team decided to partake in the Vis East in Hong Kong. During the main rounds, the team’s main pleaders were Maria Eremenko and Anna Zaikina.
Maria Eremenko shared her experience of pleading at the largest international legal competition: “The opportunity to present a position that the whole team has been working on for several months in front of experienced lawyers from different jurisdictions who are arbitrators in real-life proceedings is a unique chance, and I am glad that I was able to obtain such an experience. I am very grateful to the coaches, as such progress would not have been possible without their constant help and support”.
During the main rounds in Hong Kong, the team had the opportunity of competing against students from the China-EU School of Law at the China University of Political Science and Law (China), the School of Law of Waseda University (Japan), the Panthéon-Assas School of International Law of the University of Paris (Mauritius) and Faculty of Christ University, Bangalore (India). The team presented prepared legal positions to honorable arbitrators, well-known practitioners and legal scholars.
Adaptation and “culture shock” not only did not prevent the team’s pleaders from performing confidently at the main rounds of the competition, but also gave them a new unforgettable experience, as Anna Zaikina notes: “The fact that Hong Kong left a vibrant impression on each of the team members is undeniable. Hong Kong differs from the culture we are used to, including with regard to legal issues. Therefore, participation in this competition has become a unique opportunity for each of us to get acquainted with representatives of different legal systems and look at the same issue from different angles.”
Willem С. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot consists of two stages. At the first stage of the competition, the participants are to prepare written positions of the claimant and the respondent in the form of a memorandum. The second stage is devoted to the practice of oral presentations. Before taking part in the final rounds, participants test their strength in the training rounds (premoots) of the competition.
According to the team, at the beginning of this journey, the prospect of participating in face-to-face rounds was somewhat intimidating, but thorough preparation allowed participants to acquire the necessary skills: “Preparing for the competition was a unique opportunity to get out of the comfort zone and gain professional experience in the field of international commercial arbitration. Participation in numerous training rounds and pre-moots allowed me to acquire the skills of delivering a persuasive speech in defense of any position and instantly compiling counterarguments to the speech of the opposite side,” - said Kamilla Makhmudova.
Before the main rounds in Hong Kong, the team was able to attend two premoots, which were held in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic: Lazareff Le Bars 9th Annual Pre-Moot (Dubai, UAE) and AlexU-CRCICA Vis Pre-Moot IV (Alexandria, Egypt). Based on the results of participation in the training rounds, several team speakers received individual awards. In particular, Alexey Tolstykh, Maria Eremenko and Yaroslava Branovskaya took 2nd to 4th place among the best participants in the 9th Annual Pre-Moot Lazareff Le Bars, respectively. During the AlexU-CRCICA Vis Pre-Moot IV, Kamilla Makhmudova and Aleksey Tolstykh were recognized as the best speakers for the claimant, and Maria Eremenko was marked as one of the best speakers for both claimant and respondent.
“Participation in theWillem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot is a unique chance and an incredible experience that contributes to a deep study of international commercial law and arbitration, allows to understand the provisions of the Vienna Convention on the International Sale of Goods, improve skills of presenting one’s position on legal issues, to defend one's point of view, reflect the arguments of opponents and questions of arbitrators during the pleading, develop teamwork skills, acquire the ability to correctly express thoughts in English,” shared Alexey Tolstykh.
This year the team was coached by Vladimir Kostsov, Lecturer in the Department of International Law, Anna Avdulova, Guest Lecturer in the Department of International Law, and Maria Ushakova, a graduate of the Faculty of Law. The team expresses special gratitude to the “alumni” of the HSE Vis Moot Team, who traditionally helped the team in preparation for the competition. The team is supervised by the HSE School of International Law and its Chair of International Justice.
The team's participation in the competition would not have been possible without the financial support of three leading Russian law firms: Ivanyan & Partners Law Firm, Orion Partners and EPAM Law Firm. The team also extends its gratitude to the Ivanyan & Partners Law Firm and Sirota & Partners Law firm for providing office space and equipment for the team to participate in the online rounds.
The Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot has become a platform for gaining valuable experience and knowledge, as well as acquiring professional skills. The team is looking forward to thenext season.
Congratulations to the participants and coaches of the team, we wish you the conquest of new heights!