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Inaugural Norton Rose Fulbright moot competition

Friday, 12 December 2014
Inaugural Norton Rose Fulbright moot competition

"“All rise --- ” "

“All rise --- ”

And so it began. In Anglo-Saxon times, a gmot was a gathering of prominent individuals in a particular region to discuss and debate matters of local significance. The inaugural Norton Rose Fulbright moot on 4 December 2014 was no different, as six teams of two came head-to-head in the delectably fictitious case of Company X Ltd v Company Y (Pty) Ltd. The seemingly trivial subject of voice recording software initiated a fervent debate centring on pacta sunt servanda, contra proferentem and the enforceability of exemption clauses – each topic more perilous than the last, and certainly not for the faint of heart.

“Counsel, you may proceed --- ”

The valiant legal warriors took up the call, each attempting to traverse the maelstrom of legal complexity. The standard of argument was spectacular, with none in need of reminding that a moot is predominantly a display of acumen and nuance, rather than charisma (though none lacked the latter). With only ten minutes per speaker, the pressure mounted with every question from the esteemed “bench” to present a cohesive and holistic argument. It was a steep climb to reach the final round, and with a R 10 000 cheque awaiting only the names of the victors to be filled in, it was a no-holds-barred contest of skill, knowledge and - for the two teams who reached the final – a touch of novelty.

“This court finds in favour of --- ”

When judgment was passed down on the morning of 5 December, it was ultimately the intrepid Messrs Darren Gysi and Craig Thomas - on behalf of their client, the aggrieved Company Y - of the University of the Witwatersrand who took top prize. Vacation students Azola Futshane and Nomazizi Dlamini lost by a narrow margin of two points, though the impact of their competence and panache was resounding. When pronouncing their decision, the “bench” (comprised of Mr Carlo Visentin, a corporate mergers and acquisitions lawyer, and Mr Christopher MacRoberts, a general insurance litigation lawyer) stressed that the level of effort put in by each participant had utterly impressed them, and that all involved had seized the opportunity to combine analytical thinking with oral presentation in a realistic scenario. Familiarising aspirant students with the commercial environment serves as invaluable exposure to the world of corporate law.

Though only in its first year, the Norton Rose Fulbright moot competition has allowed aspirant lawyers to showcase their legal aptitude and flair; it has created a platform for students to network with their contemporaries, as well as with a prospective future employer. It is no easy task to argue a case before two accomplished attorneys – but for maximum gain one must embrace maximum risk. Norton Rose Fulbright has enjoyed the opportunity to see the participants in action, and invites all interested parties to apply next year. Our hope going forward is to see applicants from all universities and law schools across South Africa applying, and to continue to engage with zealous potential.

Cape Town Durban Johannesburg

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