By Protik Prokash Banerji
The good Old times
One of the few non legal things that take me out of Court and chambers is judging Moots. Though it was in our 5 year LLB syllabus, we never got to moot in the University College of Law (as it used to be called). We never developed the skills.
Apart from debates, which are not the same, appearance in Court was literally our first exposure to arguing as lawyers. Perhaps I should belabour this point.
Debates vs. Moots
In a competitive debate, all that you are interested in is to win the best team and the best speaker awards, and to impress people with the way you speak. If the side you are speaking for wins, well and good.
You are marked on your speaking style, poise and presentation, the content, and how well you have rebutted the adversary’s contentions.
No one is interested to see your written notes, assuming you prepared them in the first place.
Officially, you are not even supposed to acknowledge the judges only the Chairman, the Members of the House and your Opposition.
Preparing for the real life cut of Court
A moot is, however, a wholly different thing.
This is usually a very rewarding though faux battleground that prepares you for the real life cut and thrust of Court.
The skills you use are the same that you need in Court: marshalling of facts (from the Moot Problem), identifying the law and the legal principles involved, research into the authorities, drafting pleadings and formulating the points of law and precisely setting out the arguments and most importantly, answering the googlies that the judges throw at you.
How are the best of the memorials written
I have found that the best written Memorials are also the most organized and they are precise and use simple English.
They usually annex the Moot Problem but then restate the facts from the point of view of the Side for whom the Memorial is being presented.
A good index is essential and a pagination that is running (that is, which numbers pages serially and consecutively adopting the same style, without needlessly using three or four different systems such as 1 and 2 and again (i) and (ii) which can be very confusing for the poor Judge).
After the facts have been properly presented the Memorial sets out the principles of law involved which include the questions to be decided and the preliminary points/jurisdictional issues.
Then come the arguments which contain references, usually in the form of the name of the case in the body and the citation as a footnote, and the statutes, statutory rules, orders and notifications, which would be relied upon.
Where particular objections are certain to come, they are also set out as points of law that are to be addressed and either negated or distinguished in the facts of the case, with judgments being cited in the same manner.
Then the prayers are set out.
I understand that in some foreign moots there is a requirement to bind the memorials in leather though in India spiral binding and good quality paper for the contents and laminated durable covers are preferred.
Since you are marked on the memorials do not make the mistake of submitting shoddy work.
Do your research well
Again, while we sometimes put a justifiably high value on the oral submissions, please remember that without research most submissions of counsel would be hot air.
Do your research well, using legal software that is pervasive and a good search engine.
Download entire judgments and notifications or statutes that you want to use, ascertaining that they have not been overruled and that they are still good law or that they have not been amended or repealed, in case of the laws and notifications.
Have one copy for every judge
Have at least five to six copies of each such document that you wish to rely upon and which is not annexed to your memorial.
A compilation of cases and documents such as Judgments and notifications, statutes and rules that you will rely upon is very helpful.
You should know how many judges are going to judge each stage, and have at least one copy for each judge and one copy to give to the other side, apart from the one that you will be using yourself.
Finish on time
These will make the Judges job easier, save the time that is usually wasted when only one copy has to serve all the judges, you and also the opposing side.
Remember, most Moots have time stipulations and the Judges penalize you where time is wasted and you overshoot the time for reasons other than answering the questions of the Judges.
Editor’s Note: Here are a few summarized tips for moot court competitions:
- Use precise and simple English in your moot memorials.
- Present facts from the point of the view of the side which is presenting the memorial.
- Have a good index and pagination. Using 1, 2,3 and i, ii, iii etc. can be confusing for the judges.
- Tackle objections which might come from the other side. Negate or distinguish the cases which might be used by the other party.
- Use spiral binding and good quality paper. Presentation matters.
- Have multiple copies of every document you want to use. Have one copy for every judge and save time!
Mr. Protik Prokash Banerji, popularly called Protik da by law students, juniors and friends is an advocate at the Kolkata High Court. Interning at his chambers is an experience of a life time. People who learn drafting and oratory skills from him swear by the excellent teacher he is. He talks about movies and literature as authoritatively as he talks on law and wrote on such diverse subjects for the Economic Times in 1994-1995.