This article was written by Surbhi Agrawal from UPES, Dehradun. You can share your write ups on law school by sending an email to [email protected]
Artificial courts for the law students are called moot courts. It is a kind of a debate on the specific case decided by the court or specific subject or issue or an imaginary case prepared for this purpose. It is an extracurricular activity organized at many law colleges in which students take part in mock court proceedings that involve drafting memorials and speaking at oral argument.
It is a great method of learning law and legal skills that require the students to analyze and argue both sides of a hypothetical legal issue using procedures. Mooting is considered a specific form of stimulation in which students are asked to argue points of law before a stimulated court. Moot court, however, does not involve actual testimony by witnesses or the presentation of evidence, but is based solely on the application of law to a fabricated legal issue.
The Moot problem is designed to argue before the appellate form because in most colleges they are conducting National level or International Level moot courts where judges pretend to belong to the Supreme Court or International Court of Justice. In fact, the moot problem can also be designed to argue before the trial court. Practically, it is done rarely.
What does it take to participate in a moot court competition?
Participating in moot court requires great skill and a great research work. Without research most submissions of any counsel would be hot air. When I participated for the first time in my college UPES, Dehradun I did not know where to start and how to do research work. I was totally caught unprepared. Many issues arose between my team members because we didn’t know how to divide our work and how to start, but anyhow I submitted my memorial. The moment I submitted the memorial I was very happy and afterwards during oral submission I had a great experience too though I came to know my mistakes. I had showed my laziness in my memorial and for this reason I was out in preliminary round only but as we know that “success comes from experience and experience comes from bad experience.”
Though I had a very bad experience, I learned a lot. My memorial was of a very high legal quality but I lost my points on editorial technicalities and on my research work. Considering the fact that the memorials make up 50% of the total score, making a good memorial is actually critical. A well-written submission, a logically built-up argument is easier for a judge to understand. Judges are more likely to pick up counsel’s line of argument and, hopefully, approve of the submissions. A well written, neat and uniformly presented document will show the judge that the effort has been put into the case.
Where to get started in a moot problem
The best way to start a memorial is to read the problem as many times as you can and clear up your basic regarding the topic involved in proposition. A lot of reading skill is required. Your initial reading will give you a lot of insight as to how to go about the entire research and then accordingly members can divide their work.
Firstly, issues should be decided and divided among team members. It is very important to maintain a constant coordination regarding the research involved and keep on discussing various lines of arguments. It will make the work easier for all the team members and then all members can carry out their work accordingly.
Every moot, like every court proceeding, has two sides, the appellants and the respondents. Usually you have to prepare for both sides. A Moot team comprises of, generally, 2 speakers and 1 researcher.
Every moot has 2 aspects you are judged on. They are:
– Written submission called the memorial
– Oral submission
The written submission of memorial must contain the following things. The facts have to be arranged in the following manner. They are:
The cover page of each written submission of Memorial must have the following information:
The name of the forum before which the proceedings are being conducted;
The title of the competition;
The name of the case;
The Title of the Memorial (“Memorial submitted on behalf of the Plaintiff or Petitioner or Appellant” or “Memorial submitted on behalf of the Defendant or Respondent or Respondent”).
The cover pages must be Blue for Plaintiff or Petitioner or Appellant and Red for Defendant or Respondent or Respondent.
Plaintiff (Blue) v. Defendant (Red);
Petitioner (Blue) v. Respondent (Red);
Appellant (Blue) v. Respondent (Red);
The upper right side of the cover page must contain the Team Code that shall be assigned to each participating teams during Registration. Names of Participants, or Colleges or Universities should not to be mentioned anywhere on the Written Submission of Memorial (you should check the specific rules regarding this though).
Table of contents
It contains a list of chapters and paragraphs that are included in the memorial. We can also mention page numbers of chapters and paragraphs. By mentioning page numbers it will be easy for the judges and speakers to find out the mentioned arguments. The argument is the most complex part of the brief. Therefore, the headings and subheadings used within the argument section should also be listed in the Table of Contents with the corresponding page number.
Index of authorities
In this all the materials which support your argument have to be added. The authorities of Supreme Court and High courts, foreign judgments, statutes, and parliamentary debates are mentioned under the index of authorities. Sources refer through articles, text books, journals, and websites are also mentioned. This is not only helpful for the speaker but also useful for the judge and other side speaker to easily determine what case laws, constitutional provisions, statutes or other materials are being cited. Uniform citation method has to be followed. Citation is crucial part of memorial; it should be in correct format. Citation helps to determine from where the certain cases, statutes or other materials have been taken. It gives easily reference to the judges from where certain part has been taken.
List of abbreviations
It should contain all the abbreviations used in your memorial. Each abbreviation should contain the full meaning and in whole memorial same abbreviation should be followed. It is also necessary for the speaker to know what abbreviations they are citing in their memorial.
Statement of jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the most important part of memorial. The jurisdiction of the court should be clearly mentioned with the reason. Finding the proper jurisdiction is very important. Judges surely ask questions and thereby it is important to know the jurisdiction of the court.
Statement of facts/ Synopsis of facts
These statements of facts/ synopsis of facts are an important part in memorial presentation. It generally convinces the court about your client’s position and its point of view. A judge may be well versed in law but he doesn’t know about the facts of your particular case. So, a brief summary of facts have to be written clearly in the beginning of the memorial but generally it should not be more than two pages. Knowing of facts in brief is very necessary, so it is important for a speaker to go through the facts carefully and only relevant facts should be mentioned in your memorial. Facts should not be uninteresting. It should be in a manner that a person enjoys reading and it proves on your side. The facts should not be assumed one; it should be real as given in the proposition.
Statement of issues
This is a short introductory statement of the legal issues or points of law involved in the case. It tells the judges precisely what legal issues the speaker wants the court to decide. These statements should be phrased to help one to argue for a particular conclusion rather than simply against the other side. These issues are stated in question form and should be phrased in such a way that it showed on its favor side. These issues are very short and not lengthy so as to make an individual understand the very essence of it. They are not more than one sentence. The sentence should start with ‘Whether’ and end up with the ‘Question mark’.
Summary of arguments
This is a brief summary of arguments based on the issues raised. It is short introductory of issues mentioned in your memorial and each argument should not be more than one paragraph. It only shows what you are arguing for in brief.
This is the heart and soul of the memorial. Every part of the argument must be supported by legal authority. Arguments should be well-organized and convincing. Each point the team wants the court to consider in deciding the case must be described, the reasons explained with appropriate references to research materials used, and text citations should be inserted as frequently as needed. Arguments should address legal precedent and policy issues. Each part of the argument first addresses the issues supporting one’s own case.
Then, address contentions anticipated to be brought up by the opposing party. The argument should be written in forceful, active, positive language. It is best to avoid the passive tense. Headings and subheadings are used to help in clearly organizing the arguments. The same structure of headings and subheadings should be summarized in the Table of Contents. The idea is to do everything in terms of both form and substance to help the court understand the reasonableness and logic of the argument, and thus decide in one’s favor.
It is the relief claimed by the parties which should be clearly mentioned. More than one relief can be claimed in one cause of action. Following the prayer signature of the council must be stated.
This acts as the ending of the Memorial. This clearly declares what an individual be it a petitioner or the defendant actually wants from the Court in his favor. This is the relief mentioning sentence, and in it the basic motive of filing the suit is mentioned through reliefs claimed.
The above written memorial must be in well versed English. It does not mean a typical type of English; by reading one should understand and writing should contain legal quality. After preparing memorial it is very necessary to go through the memorial at least 3-4 times and it is necessary to write in a correct format no grammatical mistakes, otherwise it will not bring out the true essence of the memorial.
Memorial writing is an art of writing. For writing a proper memorial one has to be thorough not only with the facts but also with the laws that have to be applied. It is a tedious task and mooting altogether involves many of such tedious tasks. This was just about the Memorial writing, but for insights about various other aspects of Mooting, this revolutionary online course is second to nothing. If an individual knows the facts very well but does not know what all laws have to be applied, the facts known will act as null and void. Before making the memorial or start up with his work one should get well versed with the particular area of law which is going to be applied because a single memorial does not contain a single law but a series of laws from various sources. A proper knowledge as well as patience is needed in making a good or even the best memorial. A person cannot complete his memorial in one or two weeks but need a months’ time to draft his memorial.
Ignorantia juris non excusat!
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