The Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition is a unique moot court connected to space and telecommunications law. Every year teams from all around Europe subscribe to compete with the desire to win the European Rounds and proceed to the World selections. This year’s European Rounds were held in Paris-Sud University in France with 18 teams taking part in the oral rounds that commenced 21-24 May 2019.
This year the University of Helsinki was represented by Anette Biese and Lisa Kucher, as well as coached by Jenni Tapio and Tero Kivinen.
A Moot Court is not a simple task. Each team receives a complex case, full of legal conundrums, actors, unresolved and sometimes very futuristic questions not treated by international law yet. The Moot consists of two phases: written and oral. The case was released in the beginning of fall 2018 and that is where the hard work started. Two memorials were to be written as a response to the case given on the Military Uses of Space Resources – one for the applicant, the State of Suniza, and one for the respondent, the Republic of Azasi. The team spent months preparing and researching these memorials until they were finally submitted in February 2019.
Photo: Anette Biese.
After the memorials were submitted, it was time to start preparing for the oral rounds. Speeches were written, rehearsed and changed up to the day of the moots when new research was done and possible new approaches were found. Both the coaches listened and interrupted the speeches with an intention of preparing the team for all the tricky questions the judges would present in the oral rounds.
The actual competition date approached quickly, and Lisa and Anette took off to Paris on Monday morning on May 20th in order to make registration, with Jenni joining later that night. The oral rounds had four preliminary rounds, which commenced on the Tuesday. Each team pleaded twice as the Applicant and twice as the Respondent. The Helsinki team started with a double day, pleading twice on the Tuesday, doing both sides. Wednesday and Thursday consisted of one moot each for the team. Thursday afternoon all the participating teams commenced in Room Vedel to find out who would be continuing to the semi-finals on Friday morning. The outcome was favourable to Team Helsinki as they commenced to the semi-finals along with the teams from Austria, Greece and Slovenia.
Lisa Kucher (on the left) and Anette Biese. Photo: Jenni Tapio.
The semi-final was held Friday morning with Helsinki pleading as the applicant against team Vienna. It was a tight competition with both teams excelling in their performances with the judges asking tricky questions, but both teams came out with pride. The Helsinki team did not make it to the finals, and the team from Slovenia went along to win the European Rounds. However, a semi-finalist spot was already a great achievement for team Helsinki to come home with pride, but another prize was on the lines for the team. The prestigious Award of Best Memorials of 2019. This was a definite win for the team as all the hard work and nights spent in Alexandria paid off in the best way possible!
This competition was an amazing experience for the whole team, and sincere gratitude is to be given to the organisers of The European Centre of Space Law and Paris-Sud University. The comradery and friendships built within the teams that participated in the oral rounds was definitely one to share when the team returned home. It was a long, and sometimes rough journey, to the oral rounds but both Lisa and Anette, as well as their coaches, left the competition with a sense of accomplishment and pride.