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Sydney Law School reaches quarter finals in prestigious international moot

6 May 2019
Undergraduate students secure spot in top eight at Vis Moot in Vienna
A group of University of Sydney Bachelor of Laws and Juris Doctor students (Kilian Elkinson, Nina Mao, Lucy Nason, and Beata Szabo) ranked equal first among Australian universities and in the top eight globally at the 26th Willem C Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Competition.

In the largest competition since the Moot’s inception, 372 teams, consisting of more than 2200 participating students from 87 countries, gathered in Vienna in April.

The ranking is the fourth time the University of Sydney Law School has advanced to the quarter finals (previously done in 2011, 2014, and 2016). In another mark of distinction, this year’s team was also awarded first place for its Claimant Memorandum, receiving the Pieter Sanders Award for the Best Memorandum for Claimant, and two individual members, Beata Szabo and Lucy Nason, were awarded Honourable Mentions in the Best Oralist competition, placing them among the top 30 oralists at the Moot.

"Preparing for the Vis Moot was a 6-month long process of research, drafting, collaboration and advocacy training,” said Beata Szabo. “It was one of the most challenging things I have done at university, and for that reason one of the most rewarding.”

The University of Sydney defeated four teams in the general rounds – the University of Sofia (Bulgaria), the University of Masaryk (Czech Republic), the Centro Universitario de Ensino Superior Do Amazonas (Brazil) and the University of Tirana (Albania) – to progress to the knock-out rounds.

In the first heat, they prevailed against the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil), going on to beat the teams from the Brooklyn Law School (United States) and the University of Mannheim (Germany). 

In the quarter finals, they faced Pennsylvania State University (United States), where they were defeated.  Pennsylvania State University ultimately went on to win competition, battling the University of Ottawa (Canada) in the finals.

Kilian says a highlight was winning the Pieter Sanders Award for Best Claimant Memorandum out of more than 370 teams. “There is no doubt that the Vis Moot experience was highly beneficial both personally and professionally,” Kilian added. “The experience and the skills we learned will provide a very strong foundation as we take our next steps in the legal profession.”

“We are tremendously proud of our students, and their success at the 2019 Vis Moot,” said Professor Chester Brown, Professor of International Law and International Arbitration at the Sydney Law School.

“It is testament to months of preparation and hard work, and the also the calibre of a Sydney Law School education. It has been a pleasure to guide them through this unique experience, which will provide a further foundation to their studies and future career pursuits.”

“We also appreciate the dedication of the team’s co-coaches, Andrew Bell and Brendan Hord, who were themselves members of Sydney Law School’s Vis Moot team in 2016”, he added.  “They gave the team excellent guidance on all aspects of this demanding Moot competition.”  

Lucy says she’s grateful for all the support the team received, including from Professor Brown, the team’s co-coaches, , and the wider community of international arbitration practitioners and moot alumni, who sat as arbitrators in many practice moots.

“It is a privilege to now be a part of that community, and I hope to maintain my connection with arbitration into the future,” said Lucy.


For Nina, she says she will also cherish the networks and connections formed.

“The best part was meeting a terrific group of people who worked really well together, helped improve each other and got along like a house on fire,” said Nina.

“It's certainly greatly improved my research and oral advocacy skills and has given me more confidence. I can't predict the future, but I know it’s left a very strong impression on my education.” 

The team was supported by Sydney Law School, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the NSW Bar Association and the Law Society of NSW.

About the Vis Moot

The Vis Moot is the largest moot of its kind in the world. Launched in 1994, the aim is to foster the study of international commercial law and arbitration for resolution of international business disputes through its application to a concrete problem of a client and to train law leaders of tomorrow in methods of alternative dispute resolution.