A report by Bianca Böhme
In February 2020, I decided to apply to become a member of the team of Saarland University in the FDI International Arbitration Moot. The Moot is a simulation of an international investment arbitration dealing with a dispute between a private investor and a state. At that time, I was a student of the LL.M. program in International and European Law offered at the Europa-Institut, focusing particularly on International Economic Law and International Dispute Resolution.
Once the selection process was over, our team consisting of Afolabi Adekemi, Solomon Bagashvili and Rishab Vohra, started to work on the problem published by the Case Committee in March 2020. This year’s case dealt with a state’s decision to phase out of coal energy which affected a foreign investor’s investment in a coal power plant. The legal problems involved in the case concerned issues of assignment of investment claims, challenging an arbitrator’s impartiality, the interpretation of the fair and equitable treatment standard and the attribution of conduct between a state and a supranational organization.
During the written phase of the Moot, our team had to prepare two memorials: one for the claimant investor and one for the respondent state. Each team member worked on one of the legal issues involved in the case and the results were then discussed with the coaches Prof. Dr. Marc Bungenberg, Dr. Greg Lourie and Andrés Alvarado Garzón. After some long working hours close to the deadlines, both memorials were finally submitted. However, there was not much time to take a break from mooting, because the oral phase of the competition was about to start.
Under normal circumstances, the oral phase would have meant for the team to visit different European law firms in Paris, Hamburg and Berlin, as well as to participate in pre-moots in St. Petersburg, Prague and Athens, amongst others. Finally, the global rounds of the competition would have taken place in Seoul, South Korea. But this year was different: due to the Coronavirus-pandemic, none of those great trips were possible. Both the oral preparation for the global rounds as well as the global rounds themselves took place in front of a computer.
Even though this very nice aspect of mooting was not possible in the 2020 edition, the experience was still absolutely worth it. The Moot is probably the best opportunity for students and future lawyers to substantially improve their written and oral advocacy skills. Especially the oral pleadings in front of experienced practitioners, academics and arbitrators are very challenging, but at the same time a very instructive and unforgettable experience. Even virtually, we managed to get to know different teams from different countries, such as Greece, Argentina and Uruguay, with whom we organized private practice sessions. In addition, we could connect with many teams and arbitrators at the virtual pre-moots in Prague and St. Petersburg.
The highlight of the mooting experience was the global rounds taking place from the 4 to 9 November 2020. It was a chance to present the pleadings we had been practicing day after day as well as to meet both old and new friends. In the end, all the hard work paid off with the announcement that we ranked 3rd place with our added scores from both the written and oral phases of the competition. For me personally, the cherry on top was to be awarded the Thomas Wälde Award for the Best Advocate among 242 eligible participants.
In retrospective, the participation in the FDI International Arbitration Moot was certainly no piece of cake. It is hard work, which is worth it if you have a great team, great coaches and such a great infrastructure for researching and practicing as we have at Saarland University and particularly the Europa-Institut. I am very happy that I made the right call in February 2020, when I decided to apply for the Moot. It was an honour to represent Saarland University in the world of arbitration and to maintain the excellent results already achieved by the 2019 team.
One final word: after the Moot is before the Moot. Students that are interested in becoming a member of the team of 2021 may send an email to: boehmeeuropainstitut.de. Even though my time as a mootie has come to an end, I will certainly support the team of 2021 in one way or another. What can I say: Once a mootie, always a mootie.