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Moot Court

A method of teaching law and legal skills that requires students to analyze and argue both sides of a hypothetical
legalissue using procedures modeled after those employed in state and federal appellate courts.
In the mid-1700s moot courts in the United States had a tradition of debate and oratory revered in undergrad
uate institutionssuch as Yale College. Moot court exercises have changed in the United States since that time. L
aw instructors presenthypothetical cases and students argue them before professors or other lawyers, who se
rve as judges. Hypothetical casesoften address matters of current political and constitutional import.
Moot court requirements vary from law school to law school, with most schools mandating that students parti
cipate at leastonce in a moot court argument before receiving their law degree. Many law schools offer a serie
s of moot court opportunitiesfor students of differing skill levels and legal interests. The activity is competitiv
e by nature, and students vie for honorswithin their school and in regional and national moot court competiti
ons featuring teams of students from several lawschools.
Moot court helps students learn to analyze legal issues; its larger purpose is to teach students the practical sid
e ofpracticing law. Typically, law students are given a detailed hypothetical fact scenario that raises one or mor
e legal issues.Often these fact patterns are based on real cases on appeal to a state's highest court or the U.S. S
upreme Court. Studentschoose or are assigned the position on the issue to be argued. They then conduct legal
research, finding statutes,regulations, and case law that both support their position and detract from it. An im
portant part of the moot court process isto teach students to overcome legal authority (statutes, regulations, a
nd cases) that cuts against their position.
Students then draft appellate briefs, which are formal legal papers combining a recital of the facts of the case
with analysisand argument of the legal issues raised. As with real appellate courts, moot courts generally dicta
te many specificrequirements for a brief, including the size of the paper, the width of the margins, and the max
imum number of pages.Citations to legal authority must also be listed in a uniform style.
Once the briefs are written, students prepare for the second phase of moot court advocacy: oral argument. Ora
l argumentdemands preparation, organization, and the ability to think quickly and respond convincingly when
questioned. The studentappears before a panel of judges (typically law professors, actual judges, or other stud
ents) and presents her or his positionon the legal issue. Each student has a time limit, normally five to ten min
utes, to convince the panel. As with real appellatecourts, judges on the panel are free to interrupt the student
advocate frequently and at any time to ask questions about thefacts of the case, legal authority for or against t
he student's position, or the student's thoughts and opinions about thecase's out-come. Students learn to anti
cipate difficult questions about their legal position and respond intelligently andpersuasively. Following oral a
rgument, the moot court panel often will review the student's performance.
Moot court is modeled after the appellate procedure employed in state and federal courts. Moot court is some
timesconfused with mock trials, a similar learning method by which students conduct a jury trial based on a h
ypothetical factpattern. Where moot court emphasizes legal research, analysis, writing, and oratory, mock tria
ls emphasize jury persuasiontechniques and a thorough familiarity with the RULES OF EVIDENCE.
Top moot court advocates from law schools throughout the country compete each year at a variety of national
moot courtcompetitions, many having a focus on a specific area of the law. The National Moot Court Competiti
on is held annually inNew York City and focuses on issues of Constitutional
Law. The Philip C. Jessup International
Law Moot CourtCompetition, held each spring in Washington, D.C., is sponsored by the American Society of In
ternational Law and theInternational Law Students Association. The Chief Judge Conrad B. Duberstein Nation
al Bankruptcy Moot Court is anannual competition focusing on bankruptcy issues.

Further readings
Importance of Moot Court in Law Colleges

The skill of presentation, appropriate and logical response to the spontaneous query of Judges and art of
advocacy are must in order to become successful lawyer. The students are trained here to present case with
confidence and clarity before the judges. Before presenting the case before the judges at the Moot Court,
professors are giving special training about the study of Moot Problem and how to find out the Legal Points
and Factual Points for the arguments. The students also prepare the memorial (Written Submission) to be
presented before the judges. Thus, the art of drafting a case can be developed among the students. The
students are also taught how to address the Judges at the court, what to speak in the court and also what not
to speak. In the new syllabus of LL.B. Program, Moot Court is one of the subjects at the final semester. Instead
of taking theoretical examination in the above subject, the student has to present given hypothetical cases
before the court and they are given external marks based upon their performance at the competition.
Moot Court Assignment
The goal of this assignment is to research the Narmada Sagar Dam project case, and to
particpate in a Moot Court exercise. For the purpose of our class, a moot court is a
combination of a debate and an improvisational play. The idea is show case the
arguments both pro and con for building the dam, as one might in a debate. But
instead of doing this in a debate format. Each team must loosely script a small play,
where the arguments are presented as they might have been presented in a court case.

Each student will role-play a part. The parts might include

Judges

Lawyers

Expert witnesses (who testify on the merits of the bridge based upon their
expertise as engineers, geologists, social workers, doctors etc.).

Government policy makers.

Media or journalists (such as Roy).

Ordinary people affected by the dam

Environmentalists

Politicians

Governmental Agencies

etc.

There will be two groups. Each group will perform a loosely scripted improvisational
play. Each group is alloted 35 minutes. The characters in the play should belong to
different subgroups with different perspectives (i.e. different stakeholders).

It is up to you to determine how much time each subgroup receives testifying in the
play.

It is up to you to assign people to different subgroups and roles.


This is a role-playing exercise. Factual details must be accurate, but there is some
dramatic license allowed. Small non-consequential details may be "made up" to
improve the performance. We want each performance to be realistic. If you are
representing the NBA viewpoint you should speak as if you are a member of the
NBA, such as one of the villagers.

In addition to the performance, each group will provide a short (1-2 page) program (or
play-bill), where the scenes of the play are described, and the arguments that the
group is trying to make in each scene are outlined. The purpose of this is to be sure the
performance is not completely made up. It should have a point, and a structure, and
this struture is made clear in the playbill. A copy of this playbill will be presented to
both Liz and Tim at the beginning of each performance.

I will grade the moot-court exercise using the following rubric.

Does the play show case a wide variety of viewpoints?

Does the testimony explore the issues accurately?

Does each side in the argument make its strongest arguments? We want a fair
portrayal.

Does the testimony enlighten the audience into the subtleties of the issues?

Does the play clearly illustrate the stakeholders and their positions on the case?

Do the players seem believable?

Does the play illustrate that the group researched the issues. Including some
information outside the documents listed on the readings page.

Is the play-bill informative, and does it accurately describe the overall action in
the play. Are each of the arguments sufficiently summarized?

For your information, I have included below some background information, and part
of the opinion of the court that first tried the case.

SOME BACKGROUND FROM THE MAJORITY OPINION OF THE COURT

In April, 1994 the petitioner filed the present writ petition inter alia praying that the
Union of India should be restrained from proceeding with the construction of the dam
and they should be ordered to open the aforesaid sluices.... On 15th November, 1994,
this Court called for the report of the Five Member Group and the Government of
India was also directed to give its response to the said report.

CASE OF PETITIONERS

On behalf of the petitioners, the arguments of Sh. Shanti Bhushan, learned senior
counsel, were divided into four different heads, namely, general issues, issues
regarding environment, issues regarding relief and rehabilitation and issues regarding
review of Tribunal's Award. The petitioners have sought to contend that it is necessary
for some independent judicial authority to review the entire project, examine the
current best estimates of all costs (social, environmental, financial), benefits and
alternatives in order to determine whether the project is required in its present form in
the national interest or whether it needs to be restructured/ modified. It is further the
case of the petitioners that no work should proceed till environment impact
assessment has been fully done and its implications for the projects viability being
assessed in a transparent and participatory manner. This can best be done, it is
submitted, as a part of the comprehensive review of the project.

While strongly championing the cause of environment and of the tribals who are to be
ousted as a result of submergence, it was submitted that the environmental clearance
which was granted in 1987 was without any or proper application of mind as complete
studies in that behalf were not available and till this is done the project should not be
allowed to proceed further. With regard to relief and rehabilitation a number of
contentions were raised with a view to persuade this Court that further submergence
should not take place and the height of the dam, if at all it is to be allowed to be
constructed, should be considerably reduced as it is not possible to have satisfactory
relief and rehabilitation of the oustees as per the Tribunal's Award as a result of which
their fundamental rights under Article 21 would be violated.

While the State of Madhya Pradesh has partly supported the petitioners in as much as
it has also pleaded for reduction in the height of the dam so as to reduce the extent of
submergence and the consequent displacement, the other States and the Union of India
have refuted the contentions of the petitioners and of the State of Madhya Pradesh.
While accepting that initially the relief and rehabilitation had lagged behind but now
adequate steps have been taken to ensure proper implementation of relief and
rehabilitation at least as per the Award. The respondents have, while refuting other
allegations, also questioned the bona fides of the petitioners in filing this petition. It is
contended that the cause of the tribals and environment is being taken up by the
petitioners not with a view to benefit the tribals but the real reason for filing this
petition is to see that a high dam is not erected per se. It was also submitted that at this
stage this Court should not adjudicate on the various issues raised specially those
which have been decided by the Tribunal's Award.