By Sohini Bose
Speakers in a moot court competition
Speakers are the performers of a moot court competition. Some competitions mention that a team may not have a researcher but they never compromise on not having a speaker and there have to be two speakers at that. Not more, not less.
It is always advised to have a researcher as they are an immense help in the preparation to the D-Day and it increases the efficiency of the team by a huge margin.
Each speaker usually gets to speak for a minimum of 12 minutes and a maximum of 18 minutes. Each side gets a total of 30 minutes to present their case including rebuttals and sur-rebuttals.
The Speaker 1 of the plaintiff side is at a disadvantage because he/she has to present the moot problem and its facts. So, his/her time to present his/her contention is decreased.
Can a good debater be a good speaker?
Speakers need to be good orators, calm and collected with a good presence of mind. Do not make the mistake of thinking that a good debater can make a good speaker for a moot.
Good debaters are good at arguing. They can turn aggressive in their language and attitude to prove their side of the argument. If you place this attitude in a courtroom, you can expect to not go past the preliminary round even if you have the best memorial and the best speakers.
However, this does not apply to all debaters. Some debaters can be great mooters too.
In a moot, you need to remain cool-headed because the judges will make you explain the same point again and again and you may have to keep on trying to explain the same point for over fifteen minutes. Judges tend to “grill” you to find out how much you know about the law and the extent of your research.
Some judges may absolutely take the problem on a different course, maybe even change the facts of the case to see how you fare. In such cases, it is very important that you do not get angry at the judge, start spewing aggressive language or walk out of the courtroom no matter how much you might want to do that.
You have to stick to your point and keep placing your points of argument forward.
Before the D-Day
1. Research as much as you can. Do not depend on your researcher to research on everything and serve you the memorial on a platter. The more you research on your own, the better will be your chances to pass the interrogation of the judges with flying colours.
2. Decide the distribution of contentions between yourself and the other speaker. Stick to the contentions you have worked on.
For example, if your memorial has three contentions (the number of contentions varies from moot problem to moot problem), one contention needs to be addressed by one of the speakers while the other two goes to the other speaker.
3. Prepare yourselves for the worst possible questions which are not even related to your proposition but have a far-fetched connection with the laws used in your proposition. Preparing for difficult questions will help you easily answer direct and easy questions.
4. Get hold of a senior who performs well in moots and ask him/her to grill you.
5. Go through your memorial carefully for mistakes. The speaker has to be answerable to any mistake in the memorial as the judge might use your minute mistake to turn your argument against you.
6. Practise your speech in advance. Prepare the sequence in which you are going to present it.
7. Do not forget to practise your courtroom mannerisms- how to address the judge, what to say when you do not know an answer to a question, how to present the prayer, etc.
On the D-Day
1. Be sure to wear the proper uniform as prescribed in the rules and regulations of the moot proposition.
2. Try not to be nervous as it might make you go blank.
3. Do not deviate from any plan that you might have formulated with your speaker and researcher.
For example, if your Speaker 2 asks you to plead ignorance to any question you might not know the answer to, do not keep arguing with the judge as it might take away time from Speaker 2’s time for the presentation of his/her contentions.
4. Do not lose your mind if you are being forced to harp on the same point again and again. The judge might be doing it on purpose.
5. Be calm, composed and respectful throughout the time period that you’re standing at the dais in front of the judge.
6. Keep your mannerisms perfect if not anything else. Mannerisms fetch marks.
7. Do not bluff. Judges can easily understand whether you know what you are saying or not.
8. Make sure you know if you are allowed to pass chits to the speaker at the dais. ‘Passing chits’ means writing the answer in keywords and giving it to your speaker at the dais if he/she is confused or blank about a question asked to him/her.
The researcher is also allowed to pass chits.
It goes without saying that speakers are very important for any moot court competition.
Therefore, to give a good performance, make sure you are well-versed with the contents of your memorial and its related laws and cases.
Courtroom manners make a huge impact on judges, so, do not neglect them.
Also, your performance on the D-Day depends a lot on your mindset on that very day. So, try to be calm and confident.