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Legal Skills and Research: Mooting

Information and resources on legal skills and legal research techniques.

Online resources for mooting

Mooting at Oxford

Information on mooting at oxford can be found on the Faculty of Law mooting pages.

For those students conducting the LRMSP mooting module then there is the WebLearn site as well (see your active sites on weblearn for the LRMSP site).

Books on Mooting

Below are a number of books on mooting.  The link will take you through to the catalogue record.

Sample List of Authorities and Skeleton Argument

Below is an example of a skeleton argument and list of authorities for the LRMSP moots.  There are plenty of other examples in the resources above. Remember to refer to competition guidelines.

Court Etiquette and Terminology

There is specific language and etiquette when doing a moot. Always look at any guidance in the competition rules and information on procedure. Below are just a few pointers.

  • Always stand when the judge(s) enters the court
  • Always stand when asked to do so by the clerk
  • If you run out of time always ask the judge before carrying on and abide by their answer
  • Always refer to the judge by the correct title depending on the court (my lord/lady, your lordship/ladyship)
  • Do not talk during the proceedings, write down anything you have to say to your partner on a pad

Terms used for treatment of cases

Below are a number of terms you will come across in case citators, there are others but these are the main ones.  There are usually guides to these terms within the source itself

Positive treatments

APPROVED: Higher court has stated that the decision in the lower court was correctly decided

APPLIED: Court has applied a principle established in an earlier case where the facts are materially different.

FOLLOWED: Court was bound by precedents set in an earlier case where the facts of the case were substantially the same

Neutral treatments

CONSIDERED:   This is where the court has discussed the earlier case in some depth but there has been no definite use of it in its decision.

DISTINGUISHED: This is where the court has discussed the earlier case and has established that there are substantial differences.

CITED:   This is where the earlier case has been cited by counsel but the case has not been discussed in detail

MENTIONED:  This is where the earlier case has been mentioned in court but not discussed

Negative treatments

OVERRULED:  This is where a court overrules a principle/ratio of an inferior court.  (there can also be PART OVERRULED)

DISAPPROVED:  This is where a higher court states that the decision in the lower court was not correctly decided

What is a Moot?

A moot is a mock appeal whereby 2 teams put forward a legal argument in front of a judge or panel of judges.  There are no juries or witnesses as the moot is in the appeal courts (usually the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court) and so the facts of the case are already established. It is important to prepare, below is an outline of how to prepare.  There are other resources on mooting both print and electronic on the left hand side


   To prepare for a moot there are a number of steps:

  • Establishing which team you are on and whether you are senior/lead or junior

  • Establish the time you will have to make your argument

  • Establish the procedure set out in the rules for the moot competition

  • Reading and researching the moot problem

  • Preparing your argument

  • Preparing your skeleton argument and list of authorities

  • Preparing your court bundle.

Researching for your moot

      Interpreting your moot problem

  • Read through the problem carefully
  • Make a note of the facts of the case and a timeline of the facts to get this clear in your head in relation to your point of appeal (remember there will be 2 points of appeal argued)
  • Remember the facts are not in dispute and so you can not argue against them
  • Some facts may seem trivial to start with but will play a crucial part in the argument

     Researching the law

  • Get the background to the legal topic (see Research tab for help)
  • Evaluating the information
  • Finding legal authorities

Putting together your legal argument

  

    Relating the law to the facts

After researching the legal topic and getting an understanding of the law in the area go back to your moot problem and relate the law to the facts you have established.  In a moot it is important to get the balance right between citing the law and discussing it in relation to the facts in your case.

    Using legal authorities

a) Citing the correct authorities

When arguing you need to use relevant authorities to support it.  This means primary legal sources i.e cases and legislation.  Secondary sources such as books and articles are usually not be cited as support for your argument.

b) Always remember which court you are in and what cases are binding

If you are in the Court of Appeal, judgments made in the House of Lords/Supreme Court are binding on you and so you can not ask for the court to overrule them or argue that they were incorrectly made.  You will need to distinguish your case on the facts.  Likewise you can not ask the court to be bound by a decision made in a lower court you must establish why the decision is a sound legal precedent and why it should be upheld.

    Format

       You need to think about the structure of your argument and this has be logical and clear.

    Speech and notes

Some people find it useful to write out word for word what they are going to say to help them practice. It is a good idea to take in shorter notes or cards rather than the whole of your speech as it may be difficult to keep eye contact with the judge and keep your place.

Skeleton Argument and List of Authorities

Before a moot take place both teams will have to submit to both the judges and the opposite counsel a skeleton argument and a list of authorities.

  

       Skeleton argument

This must be a short and structured list of what you are going to argue.  It should include enough information to help the judge determine the structure and content of your argument but not go into too much detail.  It should also signpost which authorities you are going to use to establish each point.  At the top of the skeleton argument you must include the Parties names of the case, the date of the case, the court and whether you are acting as lead or junior for respondent or appellant.  For an example see the left hand column.  As a guide the whole argument should not be more than an A4 sheet in a decent size font.  A lot of competitions will give guidance on what the format should be.



List of Authorities

The list of authorities should be a list with full citations of the legislation and the cases you are going to use to support your argument.  Legislation should come at the top of the list, followed by cases.  Legislation should not be abbreviated and should include section and sub-section numbers.  Cases should be in italics or underlined and have the neutral citation (if it has one) and then the report citation (see citation tab for details).  If the case does not have a neutral citation then you should put the court abbreviation in brackets at the end.  As with the skeleton argument there needs to be the case details at the top of the list.  See the example in the left hand column.



Court Bundle

Before you go into the moot court you need to have prepared a court bundle to give to each judge.  This contains a copy of all the legal authorities you are going to use during your argument.  Some competitions will expect you to have the whole case or act photocopied, other competitions will allow you to just have the part you are going to cite and some of the pages around it to give it context.  Read any competition rules and guidance.  You will have to guide the judge(s) to the different parts of the court bundle as you make your argument and so some tips for producing a good bundle are

         TIPS FOR A GOOD COURT BUNDLE

  • Use a good folder that is easy to open.  You don't want a judge to have to handle paper that can fly everywhere
  • Use a clear copy of the authorities.  Only use an electronic source if there is a pdf version of the case report as this has easy text to read
  • Have very clear tabbing.  You do not want to just have a big pile of pages and the judge to waste your time trying to get to the right section.
  • Remember to put numbers on the tabs and put these in your notes so that they can go directly to them
  • If highlighting is allowed then highlight the section you are going to quote so that the judge doesn't have to read the whole page and you do not have to remember and quote paragraphs numbers

Reasearching for your moot presentation

You can view this presentation at http://youtu.be/g_lq9SkDp_k