Manika Gupta of Team NUJS on the journey to reaching the finals of HSF Competition Law Moot 2018

The NUJS team comprising of Nirmit Agarwal, Manika Gupta, Raksha Raina and Aniket Singh emerged as the runners up at the HSF Competition Law Moot 2018 held at the Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London between 15th-16th June 2018. The team created history by being the only Indian team to have gone that far into the competitive rounds so as to win the runners up though it was the first time a university team from NUJS had taken part in the particular moot. The team was up against the team from King’s College London in the final rounds. Apart from emerging the Runners Up, Manika Gupta (4th year) also bagged an honourable mention as a speaker.

Manika Gupta spoke about her experience at the Moot in an interview with Rohit Sharma, 4th year student of NUJS and Student Ambassador, Eastern Book Company & SCC Online.

1. This was a new moot Manika. Can you tell us about the moot?

King’s College, in affiliation with Herbert Smith Freehills, started hosting the Moot Court Competition very recently in 2014. The moot is divided into the memo screening and the oral rounds. Both the rounds are judged by highly distinguished people, thus adding to the worth of the competition. The 2018 Problem was drafted by Alison Jones, one of the most reputed names in the field.

2. As this was the first edition of the moot, can you tell us what was the subject matter of the moot? What were the difficulties you faced during the entire journey?

The subject matter of the moot is focused on contemporary European Competition law issues. In the 2018 edition, the problem involved the interpretation of Article 101 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union. I feel the major challenge for Indian teams participating is the dearth of resources available as opposed to the foreign teams. A peculiar problem that my team faced was the lack of help and guidance from within the college on two fronts. Firstly, the resources in the library on the subject were limited. Secondly, since we were the first team from my college to participate in the moot, we had no one to look up to for help. All the competition law moots in which our University had sent their representation were heavily based on Indian Law.

3. Why did you plan to pick this moot over others in university?

My urge to always try something new and take up challenges is what inspired me to take part in this moot. There is a general reluctance to take up moots having a memo screening process as it is extremely hard to break in such moots. Here only 12 memos were to be selected across the globe. I took this moot due to my interest in the subject, the thrill of walking the untread path and lastly, the desire of visiting the iconic King’s College where Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham was shot :p

4. How was your reaction when you got to know that your memo was shortlisted from India? How long did it take to make this memo? Any key things to suggest to our readers to make memo better?

I was extremely thrilled when I heard that we got selected and was motivated more than ever to make things work and give my absolute best. The moot is very well spaced out. The problem releases in November and the submission is in April. Since the subject was completely new, we decided to start reading on the basics from the beginning. The timeline of the moot made it easier for us to write the memo and research extensively. I feel one should start writing a memo only after thorough research is done and the law is crystal clear in your head. Lack of conceptual clarity always gets reflected in the language of the memo, something that should be avoided always.

5. How was your coordination with your university team? Did you take help from your friends/seniors as well?

My team helped me a lot during this whole time. As I have already mentioned, help from the university was limited as it was a first for our college. However, friends and seniors were always there for all the motivation required to sail through any mooting process along with academics, internships etc. We got help as to the databases we could explore, in addition to getting our memo proof read from various seniors.

6. Can you tell me about first stage of oral rounds? As an Indian team representative, can you tell do’s and do nots for our readers?

For the oral rounds, the 12 teams were split in 4 Groups consisting of 3 teams each. Coincidentally, my Group had all Indian Teams- NLS and NLUD. As opposed to the Indian Judges, I feel, judges in International moots tend to focus more on the persuasiveness and the logical flow of the arguments rather than a case-law heavy style of speaking. For speaking, one needs to be extremely calm, composed and clear in their head. Moot problem, by definition, is arguable from both sides.

One needs to be fully convinced of their arguments and only then will that conviction reach the judges. One needs to be wary of beating around the bush and throwing words unnecessarily as that may lead to greater cross-questioning and thus could interfere with your time management. Be crisp, calm and argue with the utmost conviction.

7. Which one was your favourite round? How were the judges?

My favorite round was quarter finals. We were against Singapore Management University as claimants. Having lost one round as claimants, we knew it was going to be tough because SMU was one of the strongest teams. It was the best round in terms of the exposure we got. The oralists from SMU were outstanding in their advocacy skills. The round taught me how to remain confident and not get cowed down by your opponents. We won on our content and law, and that was indeed a great confidence boost for our future rounds, that ultimately helped us reach the Finals.

8. Any tip for readers wrt speaking rounds as you won an honorary award there.

As Bentham has quoted: The power of the lawyer is in the uncertainty of law. One of the major challenges for any oralist is to gauge the needs of the bench. We faced benches that looked for case laws, others which only looked for the logic in the arguments. Understanding the requirements of the court, being extremely receptive and quick to respond while staying calm and composed in the face of difficult questions makes a good speaker.

9. Any final tip for our readers on mooting?

Just enjoy the process, learn the law and enrich yourself.

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