The final round of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition was held this past weekend in Washington, and this year's champion hails from Down Under.
The team from the Australian National University took top honors, besting New York’s Columbia Law School in the final match on Saturday.
Though the team from Columbia Law came in second, one member, Kevin Lin, was awarded the Stephen M. Schwebel Prize for Best Oralist. Schwebel, who served as president of the International Court of Justice from 1997 until 2000, presided over the final round. The other judges on the panel were Dame Rosalyn Higgins, another former ICJ president, and Harold Koh, who is currently serving as the U.S. State Department’s top lawyer.
The tournament requires every team to research and argue the same set of facts that raise questions of international law. This year’s case focused on the hypothetical discovery of oil on an island whose sovereignty is under dispute. The case also raised investment disputes sparked by the discovery of oil.
The tournament pitted teams from around the world against one another in a round-robin tournament last week, which was narrowed down to the final two teams on Saturday. This year’s field of competitors included 105 teams from 76 different countries. In the quarterfinals round, the Columbia Law School and Australian National University teams competed against teams from Slovenia’s University of Ljubljana and India’s Nalsar University of Law.
“This year’s case involved some classic issues of international law. It involved issues of how countries interact with each other. But it also raised the question of where companies that are interested in developing natural resources fit in,” said Amity Boye, executive director of the International Law Students Association, which organizes the competition. White & Case sponsored the international rounds.
The awards were presented Saturday night during a ceremony at the Capital Hilton. “It was a great event overall. We were especially pleased with the diversity of the teams that made it to the final rounds,” Boye said.