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Jessup team to represent Australia in Washington DC

14 February 2018
Sydney Law School mooters win national Jessup competition
A team of law students have returned from Canberra as national champions in the Australian round of the prestigious Philip C Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.

In addition to winning the national competition, the team, consisting of John-Patrick Asimakis (Arts/Laws IV), Rebecca Brown (Arts/Laws V), Grant Kynaston (Arts/Laws IV), Rowan O'Donnell (JD III) and Yael Sasson (JD II), won awards for the second-best applicant and second-best respondent memorials.

John-Patrick Asimakis was also named best speaker in the grand final and third-best speaker in the preliminary rounds, and Rowan O’Donnell ranked sixth-best speaker in the preliminary rounds.

"In the last 12 years, the University of Sydney has won the national competition no less than six times, and we currently hold the world record of five Jessup Cups," said Dr Alison Pert, Faculty Advisor to the Jessup Moot team. 

"This is an extraordinary achievement that reflects the calibre and dedication of the team members and coach. It is also in no small measure due to the tremendous support of the Law School, especially the Dean, Professor Joellen Riley, and of all the academic staff, practitioners and students who give up their time to judge practice moots."

The Jessup Moot competition has a long and illustrious history: what began in the United States in 1959 has grown to become the world's largest and most prestigious moot court competition, with participants this year drawn over 650 law schools in more than 100 nations worldwide.

Regional and national rounds are held each year to determine which teams will compete in Washington, DC. In 2018, 17 universities from across Australia fielded teams in the national qualifying rounds in Canberra from Wednesday 7 to Saturday 10 February.

The team started the competition in Canberra with preliminary round moots against La Trobe University, Victoria University, Macquarie University and the University of Adelaide.

On Thursday evening, at the break announcement all competitors learned that Sydney had broken to the finals in first place, well ahead of any other team in the competition. 

In the quarter-final on Friday, the Sydney team defeated the University of Melbourne, and then Bond University in a close semi-final the next day at the ACT Supreme Court.

For the second year in a row, the Sydney team faced the University of Queensland in the grand final, held in the High Court of Australia before a fabulous and interventionist bench comprising The Hon. Justice James Edelman, himself a former Jessup competitor and coach, Ms Gitanjali Bajaj, and Dr Ruth Higgins SC. At the awards dinner held in the High Court that evening, Justice Edelman announced that Sydney had triumphed. 

The Sydney team’s success follows almost three months of highly intensive research, writing and mooting in the lead-up to the submission of two 12,000-word memorials in early January. The writing process was followed by three weeks of back-to-back practice moots. 

"The whole team is deeply indebted to the many academics, legal practitioners and former mooters who gave up a significant amount of time to guide us throughout the practice moots," said John-Patrick Asimakis. "Their insightful feedback helped us to refine our submissions and polish our oral advocacy skills." 

"Above all, we are indescribably grateful to our coach, Alice Zhou, herself a Jessup national and world champion, whose profound knowledge, affable coaching style and tireless willingness to shape and perfect our arguments and oral presentation has been invaluable. Also to Dr Alison Pert, who has not only taken care of the demanding work in organising our entire summer mooting process, but has also been an ever-willing and highly expert helper in our legal research and our mooting style."

The team will now begin preparations for the global rounds of the competition, taking place in Washington, DC from 1-7 April 2018.