Academic competition paramount for students

Recently I was invited to act as a judge in Moot Court Competitions of Schools of Law from University of Rwanda, University of Lay Adventists of Kigali, University of Kigali, and Kigali Independent University.

The competition format was a simulated war crimes trial in which the teams played the roles of the prosecution and the defence.

A competing team would defend its argument based on law and evidence.

Usually, they have the role to prove their point in front of the panel of judges, who in the end, give their judgment and declare the winners of the competition.

In choosing the participating students, they select those who are apparently fluent and able to speak in a lawyer-like style.

What a good window of opportunity for law students!

But what does a Moot Court Competition mean? Generally, Moot Court means a mock court at which law students argue imaginary cases for practice.

A Moot Court is an extracurricular activity at many law schools in which participants take part in simulated court proceedings, which usually involves drafting briefs (or, memorials) and participating in oral argument.

As the organiser of the Moot Court Competitions, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been conferred a mandate by the international community to protect and assist persons affected by armed conflict. This mandate includes the development and promotion of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), including in time of peace.

In the fulfilment of this responsibility, the ICRC is active in disseminating and promoting IHL within academic circles.

This includes supporting the development of IHL curricula for universities, conducting university lecturers training programmes, and organizing events such as IHL Moot Court and Essay Competitions.

The Competition aims to create greater awareness of International Humanitarian Law and the values that it embodies through active participation.

These competitions are like debates, where students are required to prepare and deliver argumentations in critical thinking, development of their academic research skills, improvement in their communication abilities, solution of their problems in a creative way, and developing in their self-confidence.

Also, the competition provides a unique opportunity for learners to develop their writing and oral advocacy skills as they endeavour to come to grips with the violations of International Humanitarian Law.

Students prepare their memorials as well as oral rounds in English before judges in an actual court scenario. However, Moot Court does not involve actual testimony by witnesses or the presentation of evidence but is focused solely on the application of the law to a common set of evidentiary assumptions to which the competitors must be introduced. 

Indeed, mooting helps in the overall development of an individual as a good and proficient lawyer. In fact, participating in Moot Court Competitions regularly makes a student familiar with the proceedings that take place generally in real courtrooms. Moot Court Competition is a paramount tool that enhances a student’s ability to argue a case in court.

Furthermore, participating in the moot court competitions helps a student in enhancing their researching skills; because it is your research on the basis of which you will be fighting your case and representing your side. 

Equally, it helps in enhancing one’s skills as to how to adapt to prompt situations and how to tackle situations where you are at unease.

Undoubtedly, mooting helps a student build their confidence in communicating and putting their views before a panel of judges. A student gains confidence to such an extent that he does not fear to question or to speak in front of anybody and can fight a case efficiently.

Indeed, the moot court is a window to acquire the practical skills and theoretical knowledge to the students who are studying law in such a way which they will never find in the books. This experience requires, however, to analyse two different sides of the same coin and to make submissions to convince, beyond reasonable doubt, the judges.

Fourth, students who participate for the first time in this kind of competition not only do they get the exposure but also the motivation to take part in a more comprehensive way and in other competition and moots as well.

Such a Moot Court competition boosts up the morale of the students and helps them talk passively, and hence put forth their viewpoints.

Lastly, moot court competition is an art of creative thinking which is required to exercise while pleading. The moot court is a platform where you have to expect the unexpected, and thus it helps students enhance their thinking in a better way.

Besides, competing in moot court provides an opportunity for students to build advocacy skills, sharpen public speaking skills as well as the proficiency in a given language [English].

In closing, mooting is one of the essential parts for a law student to get the proficiency in the field of law. It gives a student tremendous knowledge and experience.

It enables students to develop passion for their future career. So, these kinds of mooting activities help a student to grow as an individual and also motivate them to demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

The writer is a law expert.

The views expressed in this article are of the author.