The FINANCIAL -- The team of 8 students from Tbilisi State University is preparing to present at the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot - a prestigious international moot court competition held annually in Vienna, Austria.
The object of the Vis Arbitral Moot is to foster study in the areas of international commercial law and arbitration and encourage the resolution of business disputes by arbitration. The problem for the moot is always based on an international sales transaction subjected to the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, and also involves procedural issues of arbitration. The moot consists of two stages: submitting written memoranda prior to the moot for both sides of the dispute (Claimant and Respondent in legal terminology) and oral arguments phase of the moot, which are held every spring in Vienna.
“This project deserves support because it is very important from the practical, training aspect. Look at the American universities, every American law faculty has a moot court room. The skills that you learn throughout this project are extremely helpful for your future career. You learn skills such as speaking, arguing, controlling nerves, with sometimes 600 people sitting in your back” said Prof. Dr. Klaus Peter Berger, LL.M. University of Cologne, Germany addressing the TSU team during his recent visit to Georgia. “You win for yourself in terms of language, professional experience, and global connections. I don’t think there is another chance to get this unique experience in any other academic setting.”
The moot was first proposed at a Congress of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in 1992. The idea to establish a student contest in international commercial law and arbitration was born out of the impression that these two fields of law were misrepresented in legal education. Two former UNCITRAL Secretaries, Prof. Willem Vis and Prof. Eric Bergsten, who were teachers at the Institute of International Commercial Law at Pace Law School in White Plains, N.Y., took up this idea and decided that the moot would comprise both written memoranda and oral arguments. Since the death of Prof. Vis during the first moot in 1994, the competition is named in his honor. In the first moot, eleven law schools from nine countries came to Vienna. In the 12th moot, over 140 law schools from more than 30 different countries participated.
“I see that the coaches here share my enthusiasm for the project, which is basic prerequisite for success. Enthusiasm of everyone involved, is what really makes this project so positive.
Presenting itself in front of the international audience, of about 3000 students and 500 practitioners from all regions of the world is very important not only for the Faculty but for the University as well. It is an international platform, where you can really make yourself known” said Professor Berger.
Currently the TSU team is in the process of writing a memoranda which, according to the team members, is the hardest part of all, since it involves a great deal of reading and constant drafting.
The team is coached by Sophie Tkemaladze , Lecturer in “International Sale of Goods” at TSU Faculty of Law.
“This is a really unique project, which gives students opportunity to experience practical aspects of their profession already at this stage of studies. They learn at every stage of the moot, which culminates in Vienna by presenting themselves in front of the world-known professionals and high caliber arbitrators” Said Sophie.
“Moreover, I see the Moot as a contribution to the development of arbitration as an alternative means of dispute resolution in Georgia. In the modern business world arbitration is the main venue for dispute resolution. It is high time for Georgia to integrate and keep up with the tendencies and needs of the modern commerce. I believe this has to start at the universities and moot is a great tool for this since students see how arbitration really works not only in theory but in practice.”
Though the team consists of 8 people, the number of students who will actually make it to Vienna for oral arguments is not known yet. The TSU team is looking for financial sponsors and partners willing to contribute to its participation in the competition.
Financing of the trip to Vienna is the problem many teams face. But in the end all of them make it to Vienna since the support either from local entrepreneurs or international organizations is always given.
“I think every entity should be proud to support an initiative like Vis Moot since it is a contribution to the upcoming generation of lawyers who are the chance to make resolution of commercial disputes fair, quick and professional” Said Sophie.
“It is very prestigious when we say that the project was implemented in partnership with or in corporation with particular law firm or a company since the good they do for their society will become known on international level.”
According to the team coach the expectations for the team are high.
“Participation in the moot is already a victory. It is not just words when I say that every participant is a winner. I have myself experienced that it is indeed so. You go there you argue and you do it the best way you can. And you are the winner, because you have learned, you have advanced.
I really do hope that every year our team will advance and show better results. Practice makes perfect. As the time goes, our experience increases and expectations for our team get higher.”
Pre-moot trip of the team to Riga, Latvia is financed by DLA Piper Gvinadze & Partners LP, the only international law firm in Georgia. Pre-moot will provide the team with opportunity to practice the presentation of their argument, before ultimately traveling to Vienna, which is crucial for good preparation.
“Success of the team depends on the financial support and the pre-moot rehearsals in many ways. We are really grateful to the DLA Piper. Apart from financing our pre-moot to Riga two lawyers from DLA Piper will be helping the team during preparations for orals which will make our practice more interactive, interesting and rewarding.”