The University of Johannesburg (UJ) Faculty of Law continued its proud tradition of excellence in public interest law, emerging as South African National Champion at the Public Interest Law Moot Court finals on 16 April 2021. Hosted by the University of Witwatersrand (Wits), Centre for Applied Legal Studies, this year’s competition featured a problem case concerning a hypothetical scenario of an inmate who had contracted Covid-19 in prison.
Teams from 14 universities debated the Applicant’s claim for constitutional damages arising from a failure by the Department of Correctional Services to prevent him from contracting Covid-19. Students were challenged to additionally tackle a range of related legal questions pertaining to the applicant’s alleged unlawful arrest.
Representing the University of Johannesburg (UJ), the team was coached by Mr Louis Koen, Ms Brooke Badenhorst (Law mentor), Ms Kgomotso Mokoena (Lecturer) and with assistance provided by Ms Meghan Finn (Lecturer), while the UJ team comprised of Ms Samantha Smit (2nd year B.Com Law), Mr Thabo Mathule (2nd year LLB) and Ms Winnie George (3rd year LLB).
Following the preliminary rounds, the defendants were victorious in their semi-final against the Nelson Mandela University. The UJ team then faced the finals representing the Respondent. They had to defend the Department of Correctional Services and argue that it did not fail to take reasonable measures aimed at preventing the Applicant from contracting Covid-19. The team successfully presented their case and proceeded to claim the palma victoriae for the UJ team.
In addition, Winnie George was awarded the overall best speaker prize.
The UJ team won the final round against Rhodes University and consequentially, UJ now ranks first among all participating universities in the total number of Public Interest Law Moot Court victories.