Edinburgh University Mooting Society marks another successful year

The Society reflects upon a year of competition success and cutting-edge problems

As the academic year comes to an end, the Edinburgh Law School’s Mooting Society is reflecting on another busy year with notable successes.

The internal senior and junior competitions were entered by a large number of LLB students. Moots were judged by members of the profession who were continually impressed by the high level of preparation and advocacy skills of mooters. After competitive semi-finals, which were kindly hosted by the Signet Library, the finals of the two competitions were held in the Court of Session at the end of March.

Murray Watson, Sean McEntee, Douglas Morton and Katherine Becher competed in the Pinsent Masons Junior Mooting Competition, which was heard by Lord Ericht. There was a great turnout of family and friends to support the mooters and Lord Ericht was very impressed with the standard across the board.

The problem was based on the right of non-EU nationals to remain in the UK and involved interpretations of EU law and its application in the UK. The case involved a decision by the Home Secretary to refuse a residence permit for a third country national. Coming at a pertinent historical moment, spectators enjoyed the mooters’ arguments, including a very quick response to a question from Lord Ericht to which one of the mooters answered: “Brexit means Brexit, but not yet”.

After a closely fought moot, Lord Ericht handed the moot to the petitioners, Douglas Morton and Katherine Becher, who are the new Pinsent Masons Junior Mooting Competition champions.

The LexisNexis Senior Mooting Competition saw 2nd, 3rd and 4th year LLB students compete over the academic year. This year’s final saw James Macfarlane, Isobel Murray-John, Kenny Young and Daniel Dubeau mooting on a very complex problem relating to the Terrorism Act 2000, kindly reproduced with the permission of Glasgow Caledonian University. The problem involved the charge of a Reverend with Terrorism Act offences after he conducted a silent protest against Palestinian occupation outside a Jewish hospice. All mooters had to engage in close statutory interpretation of the various sections of the Act in question, resulting in a lively moot. The moot was again heard in front of Lord Ericht, who ultimately declared James Macfarlane and Isobel Murray-John to be the winners of the Senior competition. The law was also decided in their favour, with the appeal being upheld. 

In addition to the internal competitions, Isla Burns and Johnny Callender were runners up in the Alexander Stone Mooting Competition. All Scottish universities who offer the LLB take part in this event so it was a great achievement for Edinburgh to reach the final. Edinburgh mooted against Glasgow in the Alexander Stone Court Room in April, with Edinburgh arguing that various elements of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 were incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. With a human rights challenge against the Act having been announced by the group Liberty, it was a challenging yet fascinating opportunity to pre-empt what may be argued in that challenge. The moot was heard by Lady Carmichael, who declared Glasgow the winners ‘by a whisker’, but found the relevant sections of the Act to be incompatible with the ECHR.

The Society have also competed externally in the Dundee Lord Jones, the OUP & BPP and the UKLSA moots. The Society would like to thank all mooters who put so much time and preparation into these external moots, which are a great way to represent Edinburgh against other universities. 

The Society would also like to thank all members of the profession who assisted over this past academic year. Without their time and commitment, it would not have been possible to run the two competitions so successfully. We would like to offer particular thanks to Lord Ericht for judging both the finals.