This article is written by Saksham Chhabra of UPES (DEHRADUN) and Ayushi Kumari from Gujarat National Law University. This article is about what etiquette and manners a law student is expected to show while he is involved in one of the most renowned activities of a law school, which brings sparkles to a tiresome life in a law school.
Table of Contents
Meaning of the term “mooting”
Mooting is a form of an Oral proceeding similar to that of a court proceeding practiced mainly in institutions and universities where law as a subject is taught to see that how efficient a student is in fighting an argument based on law. In this a proper court scenario is created where the students act like the Councilors (Advocates) presenting each side(Plaintiff and Defendant) on the basis of evidences and substantive questions of law argue with each other to prove their point in front of the judge who in the end will give his judgment in the same regard and will also declare the winner who has performed the best.
Also, while presenting their arguments the judge can question them on facts or question them on any of the legal concepts to check the aptitude and in prompt adaptability to the situation of the student. Mooting was earlier not practised as a subject by the universities in the law courses but now due to the scope and requirements of lawyers around the globe mooting in the form of “Moot Court” as a subject has been added to the curriculum of the students so that they get prepared and groomed in a proper manner as a lawyer before they complete their degree.
For a student who is going to become a lawyer in the near future, mooting is very important as an integral part of his education because it will help him and make his work easy and present in a real courtroom. It is the closest experience a student can get of a courtroom by studying in a university or college. Mooting is an exercise which helps a law student inculcate all the habits and understand all the policies and procedures that are followed in a court so as to prepare him for his future. For the same purpose, Moot Court Competitions are organized around the world so that different students from across the globe can come in contact with other to understand each and every dimension of the concept of mooting.
Concept of moot courts
In the earlier times, there was no concept of moot court and mooting when the law was taught in colleges etc. But due to the growing need and the development and advancement in the field of law and various interpretations as to the law was made the concept of moot court was started in the year 2012 by the joint operations of Essex Court Chambers and the Singapore Academy of law, so that the students who will become the backbone of the future law should have the practical and logical knowledge and implementation of law so that it should be easy as to when they start their career it is not difficult for them.
Moot Court basically means a replica of a real court where legal proceedings and trials take place and thus it is also known as a Mock Court where students who are studying law act as professional and take up all the responsibilities and duties according to their role to see their ability to think creatively and answer convincingly when questioned and show their oratory, writing and persuasive skills. Moot Court is a way a student is groomed as a proper lawyer. It is one of the modern methods of giving practical knowledge to the students by putting them in a hypothetical situation similar to that of a real court and then the two teams each on one side argue upon fictional cases and those questions of law with are debatable in reality and which have not been binded or are still the lawmakers are silent on some facts. Moot Court, now is one of the biggest and efficient sources from where people get the education and imbibe all the qualities and skill that a lawyer require.
Components of a moot
- A Judge or a bench of Judges
- A moot proposition (legal problem)
- Representatives of the parties involved (counsels or team composition of representatives, generally consisting of 3 persons, two speakers and a researcher)
- Court clerks.
Importance of mooting
Mooting helps in the overall development of an individual as a good and proficient lawyer and participating in Moot Court Competition regularly makes a student familiar with the proceedings that take place generally in real courtrooms. Thus, the advantages of mooting are as follows:
One of the important features of mooting is that it helps you to connect and socialize with so many people across the globe with whom you connect in the process of mooting. As students from different places and colleges come to represent themselves, it gives an opportunity to get the exposure to the outside world.
B) Researching and Writing Skills
Participating in the moot court competitions helps you in enhancing your researching skills because it is your research on the basis of which you will be fighting your case and representing your side and it also helps you in framing a good moot court memorial on the basis of which the other team would raise objections and question you. This will also help in enhancing your skills as to how to adapt to prompt situations and how you tackle situations where you are at unease.
C) Building Confidence
Mooting helps an individual to build his confidence in communicating and putting his view in front of the people. It helps a person to build his confidence to such an extent that he does not fear to question or to speak in front of anybody and can fight cases efficiently.
D) Practical Knowledge
Mooting helps in giving the practical implication and knowledge to the students who are studying law in such a way which they will never find in the books and would be unaware of, as practical and theoretical knowledge are like two different sides of the same coin and to pass the hurdle you need to study both of them although both look same but are totally opposite in reality.
E) Team Work
Moot court competitions take place in the school or colleges who organizes it and the various teams from different colleges come and participate in the event. The team comprises of 3 students with one as the researcher and the other two as the speakers presenting their arguments on either side. This teaches the students to perform well when they are together in as a team and analyze what are their strengths and weakness, how can they work upon them to achieve maximum efficiency. It also helps to work with people who are different from you and it also teaches how to coordinate with each other.
Can mooting help you in your career?
Honestly speaking, Mooting is one of the most important things that help you in your career and your future growth as well. Mooting is one thing that inculcates a lot of habits and discipline that are requirements by many of the Law firms Recruiters and when a law student sits in a Job Interview, if your resume will display that you have done a different kind of moots then it will be very beneficiary as the employer will know that you have a good amount of knowledge in this field and you have experience and your chances of being selected will automatically go up. Mooting in today’s generation is something considered to be one of the most important factors which everybody looks after because if you are a good mooter, people will consider you important and knowledgeable. Also the exposure you get in mooting helps you to easily adjust in your future jobs which is quite important.
Types of moot court competitions
There are two types of moot court competition known as the National and International Moot Court competition. National Moot Court refers to a situation where the mooting takes within the country and students from all across the law schools from the country and participate in the competition, while on the other hand International Moot Court Competition is one which is organized where people from outside India are invited to take part in it and it happens on a large scale. Moot Court Competitions can be based on any law where civil or criminal etc as per any law that may be in news currently or any other. These types of different moots are really helpful for students to think deeply about the legal issues and have a proper understanding of the Law. One of the Competitions that is related to moot court is the Trial Advocacy Competition which is also held at such high levels. Mooting helps a student to understand what are his strengths and weakness and what he is required to work more upon which is helpful for him in the long term.
What is the purpose of mooting?
The main purpose of mooting is to establish a good overview by the students of law and enhancing the legal skills. Mooting is a concept where there is a mooting proposition which is related to any law related subject which is given to all the teams in advance so that they can prepare for that in the form of a memorial which tests and helps them in their researching skills and sticks to the deadlines. It teaches the students how to work under pressure with the goal to give productive output. Mooting helps in understanding and developing and inculcating the capacity to argue passively before the judge. Mooting helps in raising your chances to be get hired for a job as well. As when you sit in a job interview the employer will look in your resume that if you have done mooting before then, the chances of you being hired in a company will be more as the employer will be willing to invest in you and train you as he wants higher productivity from skilled people. The purpose of mooting can also be defined as follows:-
A) Society Welfare
The society needs efficient lawyers, mainly judges and advocates so that the society can benefit at large due to the pendency of the cases in India. For the purpose to provide proficient individuals who are perfect in their field is not an easy task, for the same purpose mooting is really important to build such lawyers for the benefit the society at large, so that the problem of pendency of cases can be solved in the near future because if there will be efficient and good judges, the problem will be solved automatically.
The main purpose of mooting is that to make you practice before actually becoming a professional and practicing in courtrooms about everything. If you have years of practice then it is easier for one to make a lot of clients because of his practice and knowledge one has gained in the field.
An important part of every individual’s life from which it grows is the experience he gains from the life that he gets and gaining experience will help in any profession because it is the experience that matters when the case or proposition is related to very controversial laws and topics and at that time the experience helps him as how to go ahead in the case. This is done by participating in different kind of moots by going to different cities meeting new people from various law schools and interact with them will definitely help you in understanding the law in a better way.
D) Creative thinking
When one participates in different kinds of moot court competitions in various places and colleges, there might arise situations that you have to play with words and mould the case in your favour then there comes the art of creative thinking which you are required to show and you have to think on your feet as you cannot be prepared for everything, as moot court is a place where you have to expect the unexpected. Thus, it will also help you to enhance your thinking in a better way.
Lastly, students who participate first time in this kind of activities not only get the exposure but also the motivation to take part in a more comprehensive way and in other competition and moots as well. These kinds of Mooting competitions boosts up the morale of the students and helps them to talk passively and hence put forth their ideas in front of anybody if earlier they were hesitant to do so.
How to become a good mooter?
There are certain points that you can look into in becoming a good mooter:
- You must know your case well and when presenting your case before the judge you should be very particular about your behavior and must be aware of all the facts of the case.
- You should be well versed about the case and not read off your notes instead read pf the case.
- Make a Small list of all the points that you want to present in your case so that no point is left and it is easier than the judge is convinced.
- One should always try to have fun and a good interactive session with the judge as it will boost your morale and the judge will also take more interest in listening to your case.
- It is important that while presenting your case you should argue upon the facts rather than the law.
- Lastly, there are many courses and coachings that teaches how to become a good mooter such as this mooting course offered on the LawSikho (see more) which helps students to be perfect in their field.
Etiquettes and manners
While entering the courtroom
- Whether or not the judge pays heed to you, the person should bow before the judge the moment he enters the courtroom.
- Unless anything, on the contrary, is provided, the sitting has to be done in a manner that the appellant must sit on the left, while the respondent must sit on the right, facing the judge.
- When the judge enters the courtroom after you, one has to stand up, and when he (the judge) reaches his chair the counsels bow before him and then take their respective seats.
- The first counsel is supposed to approach the platform and bow before the court/bench before beginning the arguments when the judge indicates so.
During oral pleadings
Now emphasising on one of the most, if not the most important phase of a moot, that is oral arguments in which the counsels as a speaker are required to adhere to a specific court language in which they make their arguments before the judge (or the bench). They are as follows:
- Make sure to address judges with courtesy by using the terms “Your Honor”/”Your Excellency”/”Your Lordship.” Generally in India, we use Your Lordship (and Your ladyship to a female judge if there is any. Also, the counsel can ask the judges, if there are male and female judges, to refer to them collectively as your lordship. Generally, they do give the permission to be collectively called as your lordship, seldom does it happen that they don’t. That is why it is advised that one should ask beforehand how the bench would prefer to be addressed).
- After seeking permission as to how the judge(s) want to be addressed as, the counsel usually begins the next statement by stating “May it please the Court/your lordship(s)…”
- While the counsel wants to agree or acknowledge what the judge(s) is saying, he should do so by responding “Indeed Your Lordship/ Much Obliged Your Lordship”.
- If for making the corrections in the memorial you were holding the pen or the pencil in your hands, it should not be with you while you are speaking as keeping them in the hands or waving the pen/pencil while making the arguments as it can seem very disrespectful to the bench/judge(s).
- As much as possible, one should avoid bodily motions such as shifting from one foot to another and making excessive hand gestures. Keeping one’s hands on each side may help to avoid this.
- Instead of being forceful and confrontational, one should take a moderate and steady conversational approach. The counsel must engage in the proceedings while making the arguments instead of simply narrating them.
- When the judges ask a question, try answering it completely to the best of your ability and do not put it off by saying you’ll get back to it later. Even if the Judge deviates the counsel from his track, the counsel should still always put the Judge’s lead first.
- When a judge(s) tries asking anything and if one gets confused or does not understand something, one might ask a judge to explain or clarify it.
- One can ask for a few seconds (like 10-15 seconds) from the judge(s) to recall a certain thing if it does not pop up immediately. It is advised that asking for a few moments to recall something correctly is far better than answering wrong immediately.
- When the answer is unknown, plead ignorance by saying “the counsel pleads ignorance” and ask for a chance to make a calculated estimate.
- If one makes a mistake, it is advised to gently clarify your position in front of the judge without becoming embarrassed, and never try to hide it.
- When you can back up your stance with a well-reasoned argument, you may respectfully disagree also.
- You should readily accept the information rather than memorising the words and be ready to answer any questions that may arise. To do so, start by making counter-arguments from the opposing side, then look for counter-arguments that are well-reasoned.
- When responding to a question, a slight pause is preferable. It will also assist you in mentally formulating the answer.
- No matter what the issue is, always show deference to the Court.
- Before moving on to the next issue or point one should get permission from the court.
- Before you sit down, thank the Court when you’re finished or have run out of time.
- If you require an extension of time or notice that many issues remain unresolved, calmly present your concerns before the Court and request permission for the same.
- Memorize the first paragraph and the end paragraph, especially the prayer, wholeheartedly.
- Maintaining eye contact in any conversation is referred to as one of the most important etiquettes. The same is true with mooting. While presenting your arguments, maintaining eye contact with the judge(s) shows the confidence of the counsel arguing. One should always try maintaining it.
Passing the information
- To deliver information to the judges, supply it to the court clerk ahead of time, or, if necessary, transfer the material via the same court clerk multiple times in a discreet manner.
- Use sticky notes to communicate information to the oralist without disrupting the court.
While leaving the court
- One should get up and bow before the judge as he gets out of his chair. Before leaving the courtroom, first wait for the judges to leave.
- One should never face his back to the bench.
Speaking/communicating etiquettes during oral pleadings
- When the session starts, begin by saying “May it please the Court, my name is ________ and I appear on behalf of ______. My submission will be addressed….”
- Avoid using phrases like “we argue” or “it is our argument” while presenting arguments.
- While asking for the judge’s statement say, “The counsel would be obliged if the Court would clarify the question.”
- While requesting a judge to repeat, say, “The counsel is afraid he/she didn’t quite understand the Court’s concern.”
- If a judge asks a “yes” or “no” question, respond with “yes” or “no” first, then continue with your explanation. “Yes, Your Lordship, in fact…,” or “No, Your Lordship, rather…,” for example.
- When politely disagreeing with a judge — “The counsel acknowledges the Court’s reasoning, however, it is my submission that… or the counsel want to propose/submit that…”
- Instead of lying when the bench asks a question you don’t know the answer to, respectfully remark, “the counsel pleads ignorance.” This, however, produces a bad impression and should only be used as a last option.
- If the time limit has expired, you may ask the Court to allow you to finish by saying, “Your Lordship, may I briefly conclude?” If the Court says, “Yes,” then finish. Remember not to take advantage of this opportunity to introduce fresh arguments.
- During rebuttals say “I will argue that….” and continue by saying “My opponent’s (or opposing counsel’s or learned friend’s) argument overlooks that . . .”
- For final submission: ‘we submit’, ‘it is our submission’, or ‘it is submitted’ any of them can be used.
- At the end of your arguments advanced say “That concludes my submission. May I be of any further assistance to the Court?” or “Unless the Court has any further questions, that concludes my submission (on behalf of) …”
- When submitting your arguments or making a reference to a previous argument, say “In my respectful submission…..”
Things that should be avoided by the mooters
While following certain etiquettes and manners, there are certain things that any and all mooters should avoid at all costs while they are making their oral pleadings.
- Instead of being overly formal throughout your argument delivery, try to have a dialogue about it. However, refrain from using statements like “I believe, I feel, I think”, etc.
- One should never answer a question without first thinking it through, or it will end up with two seconds of quietness for you. There’s also the risk that you will try to hide your flaws by bluffing, which should be avoided at all costs.
- If you do happen to interrupt or speak over a judge, stop talking right away.
- No matter what occurs or how ashamed you become, do not become enraged, confrontational, or leave the courtroom.
- The worst thing you can do is not pay attention to the judges’ queries and fail to answer their concerns. Give it your undivided attention.
- Do not veer from the original plan. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t try to please the judge. If you’re distracted, try to respond in a way that makes sense and gets you back on track.
- And lastly, one of the most important things is, don’t let on that you’re nervous. Your anxiety may affect the judges’ opinion of you, so just fake it until you make it, as the old saying goes.
We believe that mooting is one of the essential parts for a law student to get the proficiency in this field and one must do different kinds of mooting as the amount of exposure it gives to the students is tremendous plus the knowledge and experience gained by the students is also quite helpful as it will help them in the future when they will become lawyers and Judges of High Court and Supreme Court and will deliver justice. So, these kinds of mooting activities help a student to grow as an individual and also motivate them to come up and show their skills.
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