Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vindobona Junction - Should a Vis mooter know how to cook squid?

This post is inspired by a link shared by the Hannover team for the 18th Vis on Twitter. The link discusses 25 ways to make delicious dishes using squid. Hannover seems to be doing some basic research on squid, the subject matter of the sales contract in the 18th Vis moot. But is it important for a mooter to know what exactly squid looks like and how exactly it is to be prepared? My experience says, YES.

We have discussed how to understand a moot problem. The moot problem sets the basic set of facts which lead up to the dispute. Usually, the arguments will have to be within the constraints of these facts. Yet, it is very important, and at times very rewarding, to have an understanding of some real world facts surrounding the problem. This is particularly true of the facts related to the product in question.

While reading old Vis memos to acquaint myself with the style of Vis memorials during my preparation for the 16th Vis, I came across one of the best memos of the 15th Vis. The product in question was wine. The memorial contained information pertaining to the wine industry and even contained interviews with some leaders in the industry. 

Inspired by this, my team went around car workshops and sales outlets for a full week to understand what exactly was the technical trouble that Mr. Joseph Tisk was having with his cars in the 16th Vis. This proved helpful in two regards - (i) we came to understand all the technical terms relating to cars that the problem employed, (ii) we managed to get hold of some instructions issued by some car manufacturers to their retailers on test driving, etc. which proved immensely helpful in establishing what the general practice in the industry was.

While appearing against Hamburg in the round of 64, one of the arbitrators asked my teammate, "why did the retailer not test drive the cars when they arrived at his port from the manufacturer's port?" She replied, "The problem is silent in this regard. However, most people when they buy cars, are particular that the kilometer reading should read 0000. This may have been the reason why the retailer did not do the test drive himself and wanted his customers to do test drive on purchase". I don't know, how correct the answer was. But it worked and we won the court. While appearing on the other side, she pulled out documents we had obtained from various car sales units to show that it was a general practice in the industry that test drive was the responsibility of the retailer. That worked too.

Apart from helping in establishing generally accepted standards and industrial practices, real world facts can also serve as analogies at times. I have discussed one such instance here.

Another common use of real world facts is in relation to dates. Many a times, delays in communication have been explained by several teams by saying "it is true that the communication took (x) days... But there was weekend and Christmas within this period, both of which are office holidays in most parts of the world, making communications impossible. Hence, my client took effectively only (x - y) days to respond".

However, the use of real world facts has to be approached with caution. Bringing in real world facts is not the same as bringing in imaginary facts. While many things may be likely, likeliness cannot be equated with certainty.

On the whole, Hannover appears to be doing a good job by learning to cook squid. Other teams would do well to follow the suit.

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