Ashika Jain on winning the best speaker award at NLS Trilegal International Arbitration Moot

Ashika Jain won the best speaker award at NLS Trilegal International Arbitration Moot. She is being interviewed by Rohit Sharma who is also the student ambassador at EBC/SCC Online.

  1. Can you tell us about the moot?

NLS Trilegal International Arbitration moot is a moot conducted by the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, the first national law university to be established in the country. The year 2019 witnessed the 12th edition of this moot. The problem of this moot is based on commercial arbitration or investment arbitration in every alternate year. It has judges with exemplary achievements in their professional lives and is a highly reputed moot of the nation, inviting participants from different parts of the globe.

  1. Can you tell us what was the subject matter of the moot? What were the difficulties you faced during the entire journey?

This year, the problem was based on commercial arbitration with the UNIDROIT principles as the governing law.

Since three out of the four members in my team were first years and it was our first moot, we initially faced a bit of a problem in approaching this process as a whole. However, with the great guidance of our ever-helping seniors, we got the ball rolling. There were times when we reached dead ends and there seemed to be no way out, but with grueling discussions not only with our seniors but also within the team, we always figured a way out. And yes, overall, all these difficulties just made the journey even more beautiful!

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

I personally went with this moot over other international moots because of several reasons. Taking into consideration factors such as my co-team members, the timing of the moot and the subject matter of the different moots, I finally took a call and chose this moot.

  1. As a first year student, can you tell us what are the problems faced by a first year student in an international moot?

The most important lesson that I learnt as a first year was that in any moot problem, we have to first find out what we need to find out. Failure to do this would lead to a situation wherein we would spending a lot of time researching on something which probably is not even important. This was something I did, which led me to wasting more than 2 weeks of time. Further, supreme focus should be given to the law governing the problem and we should be very clear with the basics of it. Further, it is very important to go beyond the issues given in the factsheet because that is something which gives you brownie points, again, a great addition to your arguments. All of these minor things were a few things that we learnt in the due course of 5 months!

  1. How long did it take to make the memo? Any key things to suggest to our readers to make memo better?

Drafting the memo requires major research before it. For this moot, we researched for a good 2-2.5 months before finally starting with the memo. While writing the memo did not take more than a week per issue, it is important to keep a lot of time in hand for not just the formatting but also the gaps in arguments that you come across while drafting it. Since the issues had been divided between different people, we started drafting the final memo about 3 weeks before the final submission.

The memo should be properly formatted. Further, it should be wholesome in the sense that it should cover each and every plausible argument that could come to one’s mind. Even the weak arguments should be included in the memo, even if you decide not argue it in the speaking rounds. Strict adherence to the rules should be ensured.

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

I was fortunate to have a great team to work with. Two of my team members were from my batch, 1st year and the fourth was a 3rd year. We had great team dynamics, irrespective of the arguments and disagreements over the problem, which just made it even more fun.

And yes, the amount of assistance and guidance that we received from our seniors cannot be expressed in words. From helping us in how to approach the problem to pointing out the flaws in our arguments and to the speaking practices given to so many seniors, many of who did not even know us yet took time out of their internships for us- all I can say is, this moot would not have been half as successful without their help.

  1. Can you tell me about first stage of oral rounds? Can you tell do’s and do nots for our readers?

So we had four preliminary rounds, all against different teams and different panels of judges. We had to argue from the claimant’s side in 2 rounds and respondent’s side in the other 2.

The most important thing in any arbitration moot is to be very polite, courteous and calm throughout. It quite normal to be caught off guard with the questions the judges throw at you, but it should not show on your face. You should be very thorough with the factsheet, to the extent that even page numbers and paragraph numbers should be at the tip of your fingers. Other than that, having a structure to your arguments, a brief introduction to the issues you are going to address and mirroring the submissions of the other side are factors that earn you brownie points!

  1. Which one was your favorite round? How were the judges?

My favorite round was against the team from Symbiosis Law School, Pune. They were a great team and it was a challenging round. The judges in this round were alumnus from NLU Jodhpur and NLIU Bhopal. They gave us great feedback in that round. They even called it one of the best rounds they had ever judged at a moot. Even the individual feedback that they gave was very constructive and will help us in all future mooting experiences.

  1. Any tip for readers wrt speaking rounds as you won best speaker citation.

Honestly, this recognition came in as a big surprise to me. There aren’t any tips as such that I think I am capable of sharing at this stage but a few things which definitely helped in improving our rounds was the number of speaking practices that we gave to our seniors. We made notes of the questions asked in each practice and tried to improve our speaking styles in every practice. Further, it is very important to not make any proper speech and only stick to it. We should be very flexible with our speeches and keep only our arguments ready. The structure of the speech should be molded according to the opposing team as judges appreciate rounds in which there is a direct clash of the issues being raised by the parties. Also, since I was the merits speaker, I had to be very thorough with each page of the fact sheet. Judges notice and appreciate it when you do not have to look at the factsheet even while making references to it. It shows confidence and your level of preparation. Court mannerisms should be kept in mind and answers should be kept precise. And yes, a smiling face always helps!

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