Five budding lawyers from the University of Johannesburg (UJ), Faculty of Law Jessup team, won the South African national rounds of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition on Saturday 5 March.
The team also won best memorials while one of the team members also won the best oralist prize. This means that the UJ team ultimately won all the awards available in the South African rounds.
Jessup is the world’s largest moot court competition, with participants from 700 law schools in 100 countries and jurisdictions.
UJ’s Department of Public Law Assistant Lecturer and coach Louis Koen said moot courts helped to increase the skills of the students from just the normal course content and allowed them to apply practical real-life situations in simulated environments.
“Moot courts are an important element in building on the practical skills of students. It’s effectively a simulation of a real-life court proceeding, so it really builds on the UJ objectives of learning to be. Students are exposed to the exact rules of court, addressing the court and dress code.”
He added that the topics they engaged with are often issues where the law is not settled, and it teaches students to critically engage with legal arguments.
This year, students present arguments on a range of complex issues in international law such as the admissibility of illegally obtained evidence, disinformation campaigns in foreign elections and the legality of taking down malware that has affected devices across multiple countries. With the continued growth of cyberspace and military operations in cyberspace, these questions will become of even greater importance in the years ahead.
The team started preparations for the moot court in November by drafting memorials, doing extensive research, submitting written components, and doing oral practice rounds.
“When you are studying law, moot court helps to unlock that advocacy skill to think on your feet. You can study law theory as much as you can but when you are in that moment and faced with a real-life situation, it helps to show you how you can practically apply the law,” said one of the team members Mr Gideon Van Wyk, a third year LLB student.
Van Wyk, an introvert at heart, said this particular moot court was the first time he had ever done an oral round.
“From where I started to where I am now, I gained the confidence to show I can go forward. Moot court gave me that confidence.”
Van Wyk went on to win the Best Oralist prize in the competition.
The team is now working toward the next round as they represent South Africa against other countries taking part in the international competition.
Mr Motlatsi Kgosimore, team member and third year LLB student, spoke on the team winning Best Memorials.
“For us it took early mornings and late nights of research to ensure that we acquire accurate sources so that we can build up the memorials and become a strong team. We divided the work to make sure each of us worked toward the end goal.”
He added that with the amount of work they had put in the competition, he believed they stood a chance to be in the top teams of the upcoming rounds of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.
The team will now advance to the international rounds set to take place from 25 March 2022.
The UJ Jessup team includes Ms Samantha Smit (3rd Year B.Com Law); Ms Alexis Phelps (Final Year LLB); Mr Motlatsi Kgosimore (3rd Year LLB); Mr Gideon Van Wyk (3rd Year LLB); and Mr Rufus Ranhlakgwe (3rd Year LLB).