The  ‘Phoenix Jessup Mooters’ ... will be competing in Washington DC
The ‘Phoenix Jessup Mooters’ ... will be competing in Washington DC
1 March 2016

University of Queensland law students will travel to Washington DC to compete in the international finals of the world’s largest mooting competition, after a judging error was discovered in the Australian finals.

UQ 2016 team faculty advisor and Law lecturer Professor Anthony Cassimatis said the University of Tasmania team won by a narrow margin when it mooted against UQ in the national round quarter-finals in Canberra last month.

“Following the release of the score sheets it became apparent that one of the judges may have incorrectly transcribed the scores for the two teams, which would have altered the outcome,” Professor Cassimatis said.

“The Australian national administrator raised the possibility of an error with the judge concerned, who – acting with great honesty and integrity – immediately acknowledged that there had indeed been an error.

“The Executive Director of the International Law Students Association in Washington DC has formally ruled on the matter and invited the 2016 UQ TC Beirne School of Law team to compete in Washington in March.

“The UQ team will join the Australian National University and the University of New South Wales to represent Australia.”

More than 550 law schools from 80 countries are participating in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, in a simulation of a fictional dispute before the United Nations’ International Court of Justice.

UQ won the international title in 2014 and 2005.

The 2016 UQ team – now dubbed the “Phoenix Jessup Mooters”— comprises Lauren Browne, Angus Fraser, Milan Gandhi, Erin Gourlay and Molly Thomas. The team is coached by former world champion mooter and current UQ student Hugo Clark-Ryan.

Up to the end of 2015, the team was coached by Catherine Drummond, the coach of the 2014 world championship UQ team. Ms Drummond works in Paris for international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and was the top international law Masters student at Cambridge University in 2015 after her graduation from UQ in 2012.

The 2016 team’s lead advocate, Erin Gourlay, said the moot competition was long and intellectually challenging, but rewarding.

“This year’s problem focuses on the international law around cyber-surveillance and cyber-attacks,” she said.

“It is really satisfying to stand in front of a panel of judges and defend arguments you have spent months researching and formulating, and seeing those arguments accepted.

“It’s exciting to have an opportunity to find solutions to some of the most important legal questions facing the international community today, and knowing these same questions are being tackled simultaneously by lawyers all over the world.”

Ms Gourlay said the team thanked the moot’s Australian administrator for the efficient and fair administration of the local rounds, and the way the scoring issue was resolved.

“We also acknowledge the honesty and integrity of the judge concerned, whose openness in relation to the error allowed for the prompt resolution of the issue.

“We’re thrilled now to have the opportunity to learn more about international law through participation in the international rounds of the Jessup moot competition in Washington.” 

Professor Cassimatis said the school was now seeking sponsorship to help cover the cost of the team’s travel to the US.

Media: School of Law Manager, Co-Curricular Programs, Geneviève Murray,, +61 7 3365 7173.