Assistant Editor Neeati Narayan interviewed the Symbiosis Team (one of the 4 teams to have qualified for the world rounds of Leiden Sarin International Air Law Moot Court Competition 2015 to be held in Beijing, China) comprising Mrinali Menon, Gourav Mohanty and Sanika Kulkarni.
Air law is an extremely niche area in terms of practice or moot courts and that is why, the team’s insights on the preparation and execution stage should be read below:
Hey guys, congratulations on your victory! Basic questions first, what made you choose the moot in the first place? What was the selection procedure?
Mrinali: Thank you Neeati ! Before taking up the moot, we read up on the facts of the case and found it to be very enterprising.
We further purveyed through the Conventions applicable, and were very pleased to find such a beautifully drafted problem which though short in terms of pages, managed to skirt around every single loophole of the laws that were pertinent to the case [a conclusion which was grudgingly reaffirmed on a great many number of frustrated occasions during the preparatory stage].
The selection for this moot was based on rankings obtained at the end of the intra college International Moot Eliminations.
Gourav: An opportunity to plead in Beijing, a fun compromis, a good team, a previously unchartered area of law and a legit opportunity to interact with airhostesses and other crew members on board an aircraft.
This is a moot based on air law. How was the process of preparation? How did you go about the 1) Memorial Research 2) Memorial Drafting and 3) Pleadings Stages.
Sanika: Air law is very interesting but our problem dealt with a provision that was introduced in 2014. Hence, an acute shortage of materials that had appraised the changes in the Tokyo Convention[the treaty pertinent to our problem].
This required a heavy investment of time into the various committee reports, resolutions , minutes of meetings, etc or travaux préparatoires, as they are called.
After memorials were drafted, we plead numerous times before many of our seniors who were well versed with International law.
Sonakshi, our strategist, tirelessly took our pleadings while clarifying and clearing our basic doubts in sources of international law and treaty interpretation/appreciation.
Mrinali: The preparatory stage spanned a grueling period of three months.
For memorial research, we purveyed through every international law journal and database we could lay our hands on, either through the college library or through the benevolence of our seniors who had access to certain international legal databases which were otherwise unavailable.
Drafting was fun. It went through a first draft, quarter final, semi final, super semi final and final stage before being deemed fit to be sent off.
Oscola citation was a prickly thorn but we seemingly managed to beat it.
Gourav: We have our peers and seniors to thank for taking our pleadings and throwing a volley of questions our way that fortified our defenses.
A special hat tip to Sonakshi (our strategist) for guiding us throughout the way while being patient and supportive, and Trisha (our fairy godsenior) for the materials she sent our way.
How was it like working with the team? What do you think are your team’s fortes? What were the roadblocks?
Mrinali: The team made the preparation a lively experience. Our team forte was our persistence at pursuing an unconventional line of thought and approach in constructing arguments.
On a lighter note, our combustible passionate approach towards rebuttal kept the team in high spirits which is very important in staying alert while listening to the other team’s arguments.
There were no particular roadblocks except the process of transition of your argumentative style, manner and poise from a Bombay High Court set up to the Hague order.
Sanika: It has been, and it continues to be, an educative experience to work with my team mates, as being seniors, their rich experience at mooting and in-depth research skills have taught me a lot.
As for the roadblocks, as mentioned previously, we had to rummage through a lot of travaux to figure our way out of a weak defense, which I am glad to say, we succeed in doing.
How many teams were you up against in the competition? Which team would you consider to be your toughest competition?
Mrinali: Leiden Sarin sends the top four teams selected on basis of cumulative scoring amongst sixteen teams to be sent to for the International rounds.
We went up against NALSAR and NLU-D. Both teams were equally well equipped with their research and pleading skills.
What’s your biggest take away from the moot? Any specific tips on such specific areas of law and research?
Sanika: My biggest take away would be the attention for detail. The impact of a mere technicality on the obligations of States before an international forum is overwhelming.
Gourav: Know the art of searching a point on the Internet. Everything is out there waiting for us. It just needs a clever manipulation of the key words you enter in the search box.
Keep an open mind and try thinking out of the box. Every team will come prepared with good research. It is how far your sling stretches away from the rest that will get you the brownie points.
What message would you like to pass on to the mooters and the non-mooters?
Mrinali: I don’t think we could really pass on anything to the mooters that they do not already know. Just persevere at the rounds as long as you can. Never make it easy for the other team.
Sanika: For the non mooters, I know the apprehensions you have against mooting. It is not everything. In fact, you can do well in life without so much as ever doing a single moot.
That being said, your law school life would be incomplete without a moot and you will never get a chance later to change that. So, take a chance.