By Sohini Bose
This is the second of a four-post series (the first post on drafting a moot memorial is here) on basic guidelines for the preparation for a moot, specifically for law students who are very new to the mooting culture, for example, first year students faced with their very first intra-moot court competition.
How to form a moot team?
A moot team usually comprises 2 speakers and 1 researcher.
Speakers: Assigned as “Speaker 1” and “Speaker 2”, they go to the podium and fight out the proposition, placing forward the arguments for their contentions. They also have to carry out research work.
Researcher: Does the majority of the research work, formats the memorial, sits for the researcher’s test (if there is one in the particular moot competition).
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Suggestions are varied on the constitution of a moot team: should we form a moot team with our friends or with people I do not know?
If you form a moot team with your friends, you will be compatible and comfortable in working with them. However, sometimes, it leads to fights and squabbles over the difference of opinions and work ethics.
If you form a moot team with people who are not your friends, the first constraint will be the doubt in your compatibility with them. Someone might just turn out to be very annoying! However, since you all are not friends, there will be honest opinions and insults and the work done might be better.
Whatever you choose, moot work is very essentially based on teamwork because research is a hectic process and the work needs to be divided. So, choose people who will put in an effort to produce good results.
Now that the moot team detailing is over, let us go over to what to do with the moot proposition.
1. Get the moot proposition (commonly called ‘prop’) printed, including all the rules and regulations. Every moot has different rules and regulations. Do not treat any moot casually. Every moot is a learning experience and if your first moot is, naturally, your own college’s moot, you should start off with learning how to properly read the rules and regulations.
2. Check the format of the memorial that they want. Is it the Bluebook? Your own college’s citation style? Check for requirements for the spacing, the margins, the font, and the font size. Check the post on Researchers: The Ones Working Behind The Scenes (coming soon) for more information on this.
3. Now that you know the rules and regulations of the moot and the guidelines to make your memorial, it is time to read the problem.
4. Identify the type of law the problem falls under. The most common laws used are Constitutional Law, International Law or Criminal Law. It may be under any other category as well. For the purpose of this post, here is an example of a moot proposition on Constitutional Law (credits: Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab, for the intra-moot of 2018).
On reading the problem, you can recognize it as a Constitutional Law problem, as it talks about a country “Indicsthan” in “Asia”. So, the derivation is that they are talking about India. “Hindus” and “Muslims” have become “Hislims” and “Mundus”.
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And ultimately, they have talked about certain Articles such as Article 14 and 29(2) of the Constitution. So obviously, they are talking about the Indian Constitution as you can relate the provisions under the Articles with the ones given in the prop.
5. Now that the moot problem has been placed under a particular category, it is time for
• Basic research
• Framing the issues to be raised
• Making your arguments advanced
(The complete contents of a moot memorial have been dealt with in Formatting: The Beauty Of A Memorial).
Before framing the contentions, it is necessary to carry out a very basic research to determine the material available for your moot problem. The research need not be extensive but enough to frame questions to cover your moot problem.
What does basic research include?
When you get the prop, try to find the key points in it such as the Articles mentioned. Try to find a similar case because some props are based on past judgments. The case given as an example is based on the cases of Dr. Naresh Agarwal v. Union of India and Azeez Basha v. Union of India.
This is a relatively easy moot problem where the most important issue to prove is if the university is a minority institution. Proving or disproving that will make the other contentions fall into place. However, there are certain moot problems which have two or three parallel important issues to be proved.
Some props are made more complicated where you need more extensive research to connect different precedents and frame your contentions.
How to frame the issues to be raised?
The issues raised are assertions regarding an argument. To put it simply, you question the credibility of the conclusion of the prop: questions which the other side is supposed to respond to, to win their argument. Issues raised will be different for petitioners and respondents.
For example, regarding the provided moot prop, issues raised by the petitioner (the Mundu students) can be:
1. Whether the present writ petition is maintainable?
2. Whether the Hislim University is a minority institution entitled to protection under Article 30(1) of the Constitution of Indicsthan?
3. Whether the Hislim University is entitled to reserve 50% of the total number of seats entirely for Hislim candidates only?
Questions raised by the respondent (the Union of India because it is a writ petition) can be:
1. Whether the petitioners have any locus to maintain the writ petition?
2. Whether the Hislim University is a minority institution and is protected under Article 30 of the Constitution of Indicsthan?
3. Whether the reservation of 50% of the total number of seats for Hislim candidates violates Articles 19 and 29(2) of the Constitution of Indicsthan?
Keep in mind that you are the petitioner while answering the first set of issues raised and the respondent while answering the second set of issues.
Thus, the conducive answers by the petitioners to the first set of issues raised will be:
1. YES, the writ petition is maintainable for the petitioners to put their grievances forward.
2. NO, the Hislim University is not a minority institution as the petitioners need to show that the university is unjustly trying to avail benefits given to the minorities in the country and thus, unlawfully denying admission to the petitioners.
3. NO, the university is not entitled to reserve 50% of the seats because, as proved in the previous contention, they are not a minority institution.
Similarly, the respondents to win the case, need to prove that:
1. NO, the petitioners do not have any locus to maintain the writ petition.
2. YES, the Hislim University is a minority institution which will make the argument of not giving the petitioners seats in their university, valid.
3. NO, the reservation does not violate Articles 19 and 29(2) which is why not giving seats to the petitioners is not unlawful.
You cannot frame final and concrete contentions just after preliminary research. You can just frame their skeletal structure. The point of framing preliminary contentions is to aid you to provide a base for doing further research. You will be able to polish your contentions as you dig deeper into more and more judgments, that is, research more.
For more on research and guidelines for researchers, check out Researchers: The Ones Working Behind The Scenes (coming soon!).
What are “arguments advanced”?
For a basic description, arguments advanced are when you explain your contentions in detail, citing appropriate case laws and legal evidence to support your argument.
The issues you have raised as one of the parties, are to be made concrete for winning the case and this can be successfully done through thorough research.
To sum up,
• Read your moot problem carefully, including the rules and regulations.
• Look for the keywords to determine your points of research.
• Do basic research to frame skeletal contentions or issues to be raised.
• Try to find as many legal cases as possible to substantiate your arguments under every issue raised.
• Gradually, with further research, you will feel the need to modify your contentions.
• Better research will give way to better arguments advanced.