Imagine being able to say that you won a mooting competition at the UK Supreme Court with Lady Arden presiding as the judge?
Well, that’s exactly what two law students from Brickfields Asia College, completing their final year at the University of Liverpool, will be able to say.
Chaleena Suvanpratum and Thisheelen Kanesan are part of a generation of university students whose ‘campus life’ experiences have been limited due to the pandemic.
As described by BAC’s Director of Laws, Reuben De Rozario, the education sector has not been spared, with a portion of BAC’s UK Transfer students being unable to complete their final year in the UK as planned. The two mooters are no exception – they have been attending online classes from home in Malaysia.
However, Chaleena and Thisheelan were determined not to allow this strange year from robbing them of all their experiences. Being final year law students, this may have been their last chance to partake in a moot competition.
“Despite the adversities involved, Chaleena and Thisheelen have shown great resilience in not just having to complete the final year remotely but also to have won the Liverpool Law Schools Internal Mooting Competition,” Mr Rueben said, with much admiration.
A moot competition is a simulation of real-life courtroom situations. Law students participate in these competitions to hone their advocacy skills and get a taste of what it would be like to pursue litigation.
Not many mooters, however, get the chance to present their case before one of the top judges in the UK. The Right Hon Lady Arden of Heswall DBE, a Liverpool local, was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2018. As of January 2021, she is the only woman out of the twelve judges in court.
Every year, 12 places are allocated for UK Universities to hold their moot final at the Supreme Court. However, due to these extraordinary circumstances, Liverpool’s final was held virtually.
Due to these circumstances, I wanted to hear about this momentous victory from the winners themselves.
Chaleena and I got on a brief phone call. She immediately struck me as a humble young woman who would work her hardest to achieve something.
“It was my first time mooting. I didn’t even expect to make it to the finals, let alone win the competition!” Chaleena said, with disbelief in her voice.
She explained how Thisheelen and her had been working on this competition since October or November. Preparing documents and bundles were especially difficult to do online. The duo would be on the phone till the early hours of the morning, attempting to get everything in order to meet their deadlines.
“It was a tedious process and the research, especially, took up a lot of my time. But I enjoyed every minute and I learnt so much about advocacy. And since I was working on moot, attending online classes and studying all at the same time, my self-discipline has also improved tremendously,” Charlena thoughtfully explains.
I had to, then, ask her what it was like mooting before Lady Arden. To this, Chalena laughed and mentioned how she was really nervous. Especially since the top judge did not refrain from relentlessly questioning Thisheelen and her.
“Despite this, Lady Arden was actually really kind. Even when she disagreed with me on a principle in my final submission!” Chalena joked, remembering the nerve-wracking moment.
The funny thing was, Lady Arden actually gave her judgement in favour of the duo’s opponents but in her remarks, she mentioned that Thisheelen and Chalena won in terms of performance.
“We were so lost,” Chalena laughed. “We only confirmed that we won when an email was sent to us from the organisers! I immediately called Thisheelen and the first thing he asked me was, ‘did we win?’”
The moot partners were overjoyed with their victory.
Cha has no immediate plans to go to Liverpool. She plans to either complete the Bar Course or spend a year as a paralegal at a law firm.
Although Thisheelen had in fact participated in moot competitions prior to this one, it was his first time mooting virtually at the Supreme Court.
“It was quite scary mooting before Lady Arden,” he said, raising his eyebrows. “But her kindness made the whole experience enjoyable!”
Thisheelen described how, through this competition, he had improved his research and advocacy skills. He explained how precision and structure were keys to ensure the judge could easily follow his arguments.
“I had a great experience taking part in this mooting competition and I strongly recommend my friends at the Liverpool Law School try their hand at mooting by taking part in these internal competitions. The effort is truly worthwhile!” Thisheelen enthusiastically said.
In his concluding remarks, Mr Reuben from BAC proceeded to wish Chaleena and Thisheelen well and hoped that all students who have chosen to complete their degrees this year, with one of BAC’s fifteen partners in the UK, will keep up the good work and persevere.
“We, at BAC, hope you will give the highest account of yourselves and always remember that the team here will always be rooting for you!” Mr Reuben joyously concluded.
I think we can all learn a thing or two from these inspiring individuals who managed to win a virtual moot competition at the UK Supreme Court whilst juggling online studying during a pandemic.
We wish them nothing but the best for their bright futures!