Ashna Siddiqui, Lawctopus College Manager for KIIT School of Law, Bhubaneshwar caught hold of the runners up of the KIIT National Moot Court Competition 2014: the RGNUL Patiala team for an exclusive interview to be featured on Lawctopus.
1. Hey guys Congratulations for Runners Up position at 2nd KNMCC! What made you choose the moot in the first place?
Thanks a lot for the wishes. There were several considerations for taking up KNMCC. We mentioned some during our speech during the valedictory ceremony.
The prima facie consideration inter alia would be the prize money. We won’t like to be modest on that because if they give such huge amount, we must recognize and appreciate it.
Our team decided this to be the last moot competition of our law school (this being our 4th National Moot and the same team from the very beginning). While considering our options, we gave preferences to moots which would give us an altogether different and memorable experience.
So, we had Surana Trial Advocacy and KNMCC in mind. KNMCC has this particular feature of arranging a constitutional bench for the teams in the final rounds.
Last year, it was a 7 judge bench and this year 5 judge bench. This is a very great incentive for any upcoming law professional to have this opportunity before even getting through the law school.
Because you cannot expect such an opportunity in your career until you have a tleast crossed your forties. Furthermore, the quality of the bench would surprise you to the core. Ex CJI Hon’ble Justice Altamas Kabir, sitting SC judge Hon’ble Justice Pinaki Ghosh and three HC judges constituted the bench in the final rounds. So that was an incentive we were looking forward for.
2. How was the process of preparation? How did you go about the entire stage?
The process of preparation was very long and hectic. We started our preparations in the third week of June which came to an end with the valediction of the competition.
Since KNMCC provides you two propositions to work on, you would require double the preparation time as compared to other moots which have a single proposition.
We started with the first proposition and discussed the same for two weeks along with the primary research on the same. From the third week onwards, we started the preliminary drafting of the memorials. While drafting, we divide contentions and thereafter review the each other’s contentions.
So, the preliminary drafting itself becomes a two stage process. During the drafting work, the researcher continues with the intensive research procedure.
Further, during the final draft, the main work which is left is the cutting short the arguments to keep them to the page limit, filling up the inadequacies and formatting. The same we followed for the second proposition and were done with this long tiring period of preparing the memorials.
3. How was it like working with the team? What do you think are your team’s fortes? What were the roadblocks?
As we already mentioned, that we have this same team from the very beginning of our mooting career. So much so that from this year the college shifted to the individual intra system and we still managed to form the same team. There are various peculiar features of our team which we personally feel proud of.
Firstly, coordination which we feel is must for any team work. Without coordination and understanding between the team members, getting a congenial work environment is difficult.
Secondly, we have this particular way of discussing the moot problem where one of us thinks from one side while the second thinks from the other side and an informal debate goes on. This way, we come to know as to which arguments are refutable and which are stronger. We don’t divide contentions at the research and the discussion stage so that the entire team is aware about all contentions.
Thirdly, we have this peculiar feature of swapping contentions. Usually, we witness teams in which one member deals with the same contention from both the sides. We follow a different pattern. Suppose there are two contentions. Speaker 1 will deal with the 1st contention from the petitioner’s side and the 2nd contention from the respondent’s side. Similar goes for Speaker 2.
There are advantages to this pattern. One that both the speakers would not confuse sides while speaking from different sides as they are not dealing with the same topic. Second, that both the speakers will have in-depth knowledge of both the contentions from both sides of the case.
This way even if the judges ask a speaker to deal with the co-speaker’s contention, he won’t avoid answering and will form an overall good image in the judges’ mind and fetch extra points for that.
Fourthly, we have a very efficient researcher (Sourabh) in our team. He has this talent of fetching cases and authorities on whatever you say him in just minutes. Yes, he won’t read the whole case and give the crux to you but the same is not that problematic for the speakers as enough time is saved due to his very particular and quick research.
The major roadblock which we faced was the internships. Preparing during the internship period becomes difficult and also brings you at a slightly disadvantageous position due to less time and non-availability of books.
You can rely upon online resources to whatever extent you like, but the systematic way in which books help is incomparable. Anyways, we managed working after the office hours and covered the books part while we were back in college just 3 days before the submission.
4. How many teams were you up against in the competition? Which team would you consider to be your toughest competition?
We faced overall 4 teams in the competition.
In the preliminary rounds, we faced Faculty of Law, CLC Delhi and Amity Noida. In the quarterfinals and the semifinals we faced the same team, i.e. NLC, BVP, Pune however on different propositions. In the finals, we were up against HNLU, Raipur.
We faced a very healthy competition in the finals against HNLU.
5. How was the final round up against HNLU?
The final round in any way was an experience which is beyond description. However, restricting the same to the opposite team, we found both the speakers to be good.
However, the second speaker who was the last speaker of the finals changed the whole game. They also did pretty good in their memorial scores. Why we termed the competition against them to be healthy is because of a reason.
They competed ethically without bluffing the bench about anything. This is one quality we appreciate and believe that every team and every professional must keep in mind.
6. What message would you like to pass on to the mooters and the non-mooters?
For those who moot: Do not take this as a competition where you just want to win something. Take it as a learning experience. Justify the purpose why mooting was introduced at the very first place. In every moot you participate, you will improve and will learn a new thing for sure.
For those who don’t: I would take this as an opportunity to invite all the law students to this very effective learning concept. If you are not doing it, you are putting yourself at a disadvantageous position.
Because your competitors who are doing it are learning something at this stage which you will start after you come into the profession. Drafting, interpretation, argumentation and various other legal and logical skills which they gain are incomparable to any other learning method.
For those who moot: Mooting is basically an art. Though it is not an exact replica of the actual court room yet it gives you the feel of the same.
Every stage of preparation for a moot court competition is indeed a lesson towards learning the art of advocacy. Nothing gets better than doing a moot court competition as it does make you more of a lawyer every day.
So I believe that win or loss is not something that a spirited mooter shall look for, rather he/ she shall always learn from every moment spent in the preparation for the moot and then the time spent in the court room during the rounds.
For those who don’t: Mooting is something which is a must for every law student. I know certain students are reluctant to speak, however, I firmly believe that every law student has a role in a moot team. Therefore, I appease to all the law students to take up mooting at least once before it becomes mandatory as part of curriculum.
For those who moot: Students think mooting will get you job after you pass out and therefore they moot particularly for the purpose of improving their CVs. I moot for two purposes- firstly, to learn research, drafting and other allied skills and secondly, my passion for the concept. So don’t moot for your CVs, there are better considerations than that.
For those who don’t: I believe that mooting is a way to improve upon your drafting, interpretation, argumentation and various other legal and logical skills but this is not the only way. So, if you are not passionate about it, do not get into it and explore other areas. I believe there are lot many things to learn the same in law schools.
7. Also, your team bagged a rank in top teams AGAIN this year, how was your experience?
Yes. Last year, our law school secured 3rd best team in the 1st KNMCC. So, when you go to a moot where your college has already set a certain benchmark, there is always some level of performance pressure built up on you.
We worked hard and at least justified that benchmark and took it further to a better level. We hope that the next team which goes from our law school wins the 3rd Edition.
8. Final comments on the level of competition and the organisation of the competition.
The level of the competition was high. Considering the subject matter of both the propositions (Taxation, IPR, Corporate and Securities laws), we expected the same. There were mostly fourth year teams and a few third years and experienced mooters.
The overall organization of the competition was excellent. We would like to make a special mention for the convener of their moot committee (Jash Agarwal).
A very hard working convener efficiently handling his responsibility and has a very good coordination with his entire team. I have hardly seen any convener running everywhere to check whether everything is perfectly carried on. The volunteers worked in good spirit and were very welcoming and hardworking.
9. Considering the fact that, particularly RGNUL, did really well at National moots in past one year. What’s the secret of this sudden roar?
Clarifying it a bit, RGNUL has been performing well for years. Backing best memorials in Jessups to Runners up in the B.R. Swahney Moot and similar performances in other such moots is not a part of a sudden roar for us but a developed culture of mooting in our law school. Our team (we) backed runners up trophy last year at the 12th Surana and Surana International Technology Moot Competition.
The shift which is apparent for you might be the rank upgradation of RGNUL in MPL. So, the reason might be that we have improved our performance in the MPL listed National Moots. In the Non MPL Moots, RGNUL has been performing very well since its inception.
The secret of these performances is the increased involvement of the seniors and the faculty in preparation from memorials to the oral rounds. Also, we have started this new practice of assigning juniors as additional researchers to the teams going for moots.
10. Any other thing you would like to mention about the moot?
We would like to make a special mention for Sabya Sachi and our team representative Irfan Khan for their cordial hospitality and coordination throughout the competition.