Liverpool Law School Students impress judges in the 2020 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition

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University of Liverpool Team with Law Lecturer Dr Ben Murphy and coach Erin Sexton

Liverpool Law School students finish 6th in the UK round of the 2020 Jessup International Law Moot Competition.

Over the weekend, Thomas Jenkins, Holly Knowles, Adil Navaid, Eleanor Suthern and Mclean Wickham represented the Law School in the 2020 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, hosted by Lincoln’s Inn, London, the most prestigious competition of its kind internationally. In three days of intense mooting, the team argued for the Applicant and the Respondent in a case which gave rise to legal issues as far-ranging as the legality of autonomous weapons, world trade law, and diplomatic immunity for war crimes, before senior members of the international legal academy and practice.

The team reached the quarterfinal, only narrowly missing out on a place in the semi-final to an excellent University of Cambridge team, the only team to outscore Liverpool across the three days. Overall, the team placed 6th in the UK. The team’s performances were commended repeatedly by judges and opposition teams alike.

Jessup is the world's largest moot court competition with participants from over 680 law schools in 100 countries and jurisdictions. The Competition is a simulation of a fictional dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations. Teams prepare oral and written pleadings arguing both the applicant and respondent positions of the case.

Law Lecturer, Dr Ben Murphy, who supported the team in the competition, described the team’s performance as ‘nothing short of exceptional’, going on to say:

‘The Law School are so proud of Thomas, Holly, Adil, Eleanor and Mclean’s achievement, which is no less than you deserve after months of hard work studying the international legal issues at stake, constructing legal arguments, drafting written memorials and participating in mock moots. I was blown away by the sophistication and nuance of your individual legal arguments and how you responded under pressure, but also how effectively you all worked as a team throughout. Witnessing how far you have progressed over the last months has been a real professional highlight.’

The team were also supported by Liverpool Law School alumnus, Erin Sexton, who coached the team having successfully competed in the 2019 Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.

Captain of the team, Thomas Jenkins, who along with Erin also competed last year, expressed his gratitude for the support they had received from both Ben and Erin:

'The support they provided us was pivotal to our success. We hope that the law school can build upon this success in next year's UK National Round.'

Fellow team member Eleanor Suthern reflected on the competition:

‘After months of preparation as a team, producing two 10,000 word written memorials, mock moots and a weekend of oral rounds, the team making it to the quarter finals and placing 6th in the UK was a bonus! The entire team worked hard and the effort was shown through our performance over the weekend. Representing the University of Liverpool in the competition has been a highlight of my second year.’

Adil Navaid described competing in the Jessup Competition as a wonderful experience:

‘Competing in the Jessup Competition has been a wonderful experience. The past six months have involved writing 10,000 word memorials, exploring complex legal arguments, preparing in mock moots, and of course competing in the national oral rounds. The hard work and long nights paid off with the fantastic results, and we hope to help any future teams in going even further in the competition. None of this could have been possible without the dedication and belief of the coaches, Ben and Davide, the outstanding support of alumni Erin Sexton, and the support of the University. Hopefully future teams will build on this, and raise Liverpool's growing reputation as an outstanding Jessup team even further.'

Mclean Wickham described the competition as one of his personal highlights to date, going on to say:

‘It would have been impossible to do without the help of the Law School, who funded some of the expenses associated with the competition. It would not have been possible to place so highly without Dr Ben Murphy's guidance. One of my submissions focussed on the use of force in international law and were it not for his help in structuring our 13,000 word written memorial and subsequent oral arguments it would have been near impossible to place as high as we did. Thanks also has to go to our coach, Erin Sexton. Erin, having competed last year alongside this year's captain, Thomas Jenkins, was instrumental in guiding all of us on how to compete and score highly at the competition.

With regards to the competition itself, this being only the second year the university has competed in the competition, we surprised many teams with our performance. Whilst teams are anonymised during the competition, judges and other competing teams often thought we were representing institutions such as the Inns of Court, which was an enormous compliment. In the end, this is a huge result for the university and we hope future teams can build on this in future years.’