Saturday, April 21, 2018

From Beijing To Oxford (Price Media Law Moot)

Our journey began October last year.

The first hurdle was the Asia-Pacific regional round held at Beijing on 29 November to 1 December 2017. The memorial submission deadline was 2 November. Which meant we had about a month to draft our memorial, and another month to prepare for orals.

Also, it was the first time ever that our university was competing in the Price Media Law Moot, so essentially we were traversing into uncharted waters.

Our team consisted of three oralists, two researchers, and a coach. Not a bad crew, but still undermanned relative to most other teams (which had four oralists covering for each role).

The Top 4-5 teams from our region usually advance to the International Round at Oxford. Last year, 2 teams made it as far as the Semi-Finals in the International Rounds, 1 team into the Quarter-Finals, and another into the Octo-Finals. We were competing in arguably the toughest region.

We wouldn't know our opponents and have their memorials until the eve of the competition day itself.

The pressure was on.

Three grueling days of competition (and sleepless nights prepping against our opponents) later...

We emerged as runners-up at Beijing - and clinched our ticket to Oxford.

Beijing Mission Accomplished 

Freedom and Diversity

Price Media Law Moot is an international mooting competition running for its 11th year. It focuses on international humans rights law (particularly on freedom of expression) and media law (particularly on social media).

The competition consist of two phases: Regional Rounds and International Rounds.

The Regional Rounds take place in 7 regions: Asia-Pacific (Beijing), North East Europe (Kyiv), South East Europe (Zagreb), Americas (New York), Middle East (Beirut), Africa (Johannesburg) and South Asia (Delhi).

The top teams from these regions qualify to the International Rounds.

(Teams from certain countries - such as UK, Singapore, Australia - are exempted from the Regional Rounds and automatically qualify to the International Rounds.)

This year, 42 teams competed in the International Rounds.

For such a infant competition, it's a truly a paragon of diversity.

Destination Oxford

We didn't have the best of starts.

We arrived late on the registration day itself, and made it just in time for the exchange of memorials. Just like in Beijing, we had less than a day to prepare for our opponents in the preliminary rounds the following day. The other teams faced similar time constraints too, but they probably didn't have to struggle with jet lag as much as we did.

(Mooting Tip #1: Get a good travel agent)

Sadly, our entourage had diminished. Our researchers couldn't travel with us to Oxford. So any last-minute research was left to our stressed-out oralists to shoulder as well.

The Preliminary Rounds was a nail-biting affair. Although we won all three of our matches, we scraped through some of them by razor-thin point margins. Our opponents were formidable, coming from all corners of the world, common law and civil law. And so were the judges, who range from lawyers to academicians to activists. It was quite an interesting challenge adapting to the different styles that our opponents and judges had.

The Preliminary Rounds ended after 2 days, and we made it to the Octo-Finals (ranked as the 7th team). Also in the mix were the usual powerhouses - SMU, NUS, University of Oxford, University of Technology Sydney, NLU Delhi, University of San Carlos, etc.

On Day 3, The Octo-Finals proved to be yet another close shave. We won unanimously, but each of the judges gave us only a slight edge over our opponent. We had lost all memorial points, a single judge's vote would've been enough to give them the victory.

(Mooting Tip #2: Don't screw up memorials)

There wasn't time to breathe and celebrate. The Quarter-Finals was up next, barely an hour later.

Finally, this time, our luck didn't hold. We fought hard, but lost.

Our journey ended at the Quarter-Finals.

Halfway to the top

Context Is Everything

So was our journey a success or failure or somewhere in between?

If anything less than winning the competition is considered a failure, then I suppose we did fail (along with all the 100+ participating teams worldwide).

If success is relative to each team's experience and resources, then context is everything. And when it comes to context, the facts speak for themselves. I need not explain any further.

But wait, there's one more important detail: one of our speakers finished as the 6th Best Oralist of the Preliminary Rounds.

The Journey Continues

More importantly, the question is where do we go from here?

Stronger, and upwards.

Our journey to Oxford doesn't need to end here, on a cold afternoon of April.

There's always next year. There's always a new hope.


This post is inspired by, and dedicated to, Team UM of Price Media Law Moot 2017/2018: Lee Suan Cui, Iqbal Harith Liang, Sahari Sha'ari, Loh Jing Rou and Winnie Choong.

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