UP law students placed fifth in Olympic Games of legal education

Posted on April 16, 2018

The TuksLaw team was placed fifth overall in the recent Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, hosted in Washington D.C.

The competition is the largest and most prestigious Moot Court Competition in the world, and the most direct way in which law faculties’ students measure their strength against each other. This year’s mock case  was based on international arbitration law, nuclear disarmament obligations, use of force and the capture of marine vessels.

The TuksLaw team represented South Africa at the international rounds after winning all categories at the national rounds against the University of Johannesburg and the University of the Western Cape in March 2018.

The team, consisting of Mary-Ann Gettliffe (LLM), Rohula Bilankulu (LLB III), Thomas White (LLB IV), and Sohela Surajpal (LLB II) competed against 680 law faculties representing 100 countries from around the world and made it into the top eight teams in the quarter-finals of the competition.

At the international preliminary rounds, the University of Pretoria team beat the University of Queensland and the University of Tokyo, and thereafter proceeded to the advanced rounds where they beat Indonesia and Russia.

They then lost to the United Kingdom’s Kings College and were eliminated from the quarterfinals. The University of Queensland won the competition and the National Law School of India University was the runner-up.

The team won the Alona E Evans Award for Best Memorial at the White & Case International Rounds and ranked higher than Harvard University, University of Oxford, Stanford University and Norman Manley Law School. It is also the highest ranked team in Africa.

According to Prof Christof Heyns, Director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA) at the University of Pretoria and a member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, he and Gift Kgomosoto, the team’s coach and a former Moot champion, decided last year that they want to win this competition within the next five years. ‘So we started months in advance, and the team worked through the December holidays. Given our recent performance in the Jessup, we are even more convinced we can win this competition in the near future.’

Determined to win next year’s competition, Heyns said he and his team will soon start preparing for the 2019 try-outs. ‘There is nothing that compares with realising you are not just running with but also up against the best in the world – and you have a realistic chance to beat them… Start even earlier, work even harder, let other things go. Given our track record, reaching the top is a real possibility; it is within striking distance.’

The TuksLaw team with coach Gift Kgomosoto (third above).


- Author Faculty of Law

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