Saturday, October 8, 2011

Vindobona Junction - 45 pages and 6 months

-By Smaran Shetty-

The problem for the 19th Willem C Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court Competition has finally released and may be accessed here. Although drastically shorter than the previous years problem, at 45 pages, the newest problem, promises to give participants a good deal of issues to grapple with. Although most people think there is nothing much to be said regarding how the problem is to be read, I disagree. With a little guidance, and the right approach, participants will be guaranteed to have a clearer understanding of the facts and issues involved in a much lesser period of time. 

Considering the length of the problem, it is advisable to approach the problem with a little caution. In fact, due to its length (unlike most other moot problems) Judges in Vienna often refer to the problem as the “Case File” or “Record”, instead of the generic “Problem”. 

The most valuable advice I received regarding reading the problem, was to ensure that in the first  reading, you ensure that you read the entire problem,  from start to the end. In fact I was advised that irrespective of your role in the team (arbitration or merits), the first few readings of the problem should be of the whole problem to get an holistic idea of the problem. I could not agree more, the first couple of readings should be of the entire problem, and participants should not stop to research certain points while reading. Make a note of the words you don’t understand, or acronyms that you are unsure about to look up later, but make sure that the first couple of readings are uninterrupted and focussed. In reading the problem in this manner, repeatedly, a participant is sure to understand the whole narrative, which will prove instrumental in the oral rounds. Another piece of advice which I found rather helpful was to ensure that you read the problem, multiple times in the first few days. This helps to ensure that the small details of the problem, like names and dates and other significant details of fact and law are cemented in the minds of the participants. 

After you have read the entire problem multiple times, then you can get to work on research and analysis. But before you do so, make sure you do a few things. First, make sure that you make a profile of both parties involved in the dispute. This involves writing the down the names of the Claimant and Respondent, where they operate, what they do, who controls them, who their legal counsel are, what are they names of their employees etc ... Although these details seem peripheral, inevitably it’s the small details and obscure pieces of information that help in making innovative arguments. 

It also proves immensely helpful to write out a time line of all the mentioned dates, from the first meeting of the parties to the filing of the request for arbitration. This process helps condensing an expansive problem into a matter of two pages. Also, a time line helps teams pin point when exactly things went wrong, or who was responsible, and how much time elapsed between important dates. 

I hope with this seemingly irrelevant information, teams enjoy the process of working on the moot which will extend well into the next 6 month, and I wish all concerned the best of luck. 

All that left to say, is happy reading.

PS: The length of the problem is sure to increase by a minimum of 10 pages, once Procedural Order Number 3 is released. 

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