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Meet NLU Jodhpur’s Vis Vienna team – The first Indian team to win Best Respondent Memo at Vienna
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Meet NLU Jodhpur’s Vis Vienna team – The first Indian team to win Best Respondent Memo at Vienna

Shreya V

This year’s edition of  Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot saw the team from National Law University, Jodhpur making history.

The team comprising of Shivesh Aggarwal, Gargi Bohra, Bhavana Sunder and Nikhil Variyar won the citation for the Best Respondent Memorial.

Bar & Bench spoke to the team about their experience at the competition and this is what they had to say.

Bar & Bench: Why did you chose this moot?

Gargi Bohra: I decided to choose this moot because of my interest in the subject as well as the experience that comes along with participating in a moot like the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court Competition. I had been told by my seniors who had earlier participated in the moot that Vis was an experience that they would cherish for the rest of their lives. I wanted to be a part of it to experience the same.

Bhavana Sunder: The Willem C Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, Vienna is one of the largest, most prestigious moots in the world. It is a moot that I have been wanting to since I joined college, not only because of the interesting subject matter (arbitration and CISG) but also the exotic location.

Shivesh Aggarwal: Through an Intra-moot court competition organized by the Moot Court Committee, I fortunately got the chance to represent the University in the Vis moot. After consulting seniors who had previously participated in the moot, I finally decided to embrace this opportunity.

Nikhil Variyar: I think it began with the one of the previous intra-university moot court competitions. Being a second year, I had little exposure to arbitration except through such exercises where we were introduced to fields of law which we would not have otherwise studied till much later on. There was a question of law based on the BALCO ruling and that was my first interaction with arbitration law. Since then, I had also been keen on arbitration as a field of dispute resolution. Vis is, beyond doubt, the largest interaction of arbitrators and practitioners in the world and it was a great opportunity when my rank in the intra-university moot court competition allowed me to be part of the team which represented NLU at Vienna.

B&B: How did you prepare?

GB: We started the preparation with some preliminary reading on the subject before the release of the problem. Once the problem was out, we divided the work and focused on our individual parts. Once we were prepared with our own bit, we worked together as a team to make it better. We also took help from our seniors who provided us with some valuable feedback on the areas we could improve upon.

We got along really well as a team which made things really easy for us. Adapting to the Vis style of writing was a little difficult given the fact that all of us in the team had previously been associated with different moot court competitions which had a substantially different style of writing than Vis.

BS: We had comfortable deadlines as both the memoranda had to be submitted separately. Our preparation, in fact, began even before the release of the 22nd problem, as we read up on arbitration, CISG and past years problems. The greatest strength we had was probably the support system in the form of coaches as well as alumni of the university. There are so many people who are so passionate about this moot from our university that it really made the memorandum preparation process smooth.

SA: The Vis moot is a lengthy and an exciting road to be treaded upon which involves an uninterrupted commitment of 7-8 months.

Following the advice of our coaches, we read a lot about ther relevant subjects before the problem was released. Thereafter, once the problem got released, we approximately had 2 months to prepare for the Claimant memorandum and an additional month to make the Respondent memorandum. The remaining three months were utilized by us in preparation for the oral pleadings.

Coming on to the team’s strength, I think our love for the moot worked for us. To be honest, I can’t recall any drawbacks which I found in my team. However, despite a few disagreements, this team was the best I could have imagined myself to be a part of.

NV: We had about a month after allocation when our coaches instructed us to read on the basics of international commercial arbitration. This was before the moot problem released. After this, there were the brainstorming periods. This was the harshest period for me- being a second year, this was only my second moot and I felt overwhelmed by the sheer size of the problem- 72 pages! It’s just insane. Then, depending on our interests, we divided the CISG and Arbitration halves of the problem amongst ourselves.

B&B: How was the competition itself?

GB: The competition was a great learning experience. The moot entails a lot of hard work. When we won the citation for the Best Respondent Memorial, it felt like the hard work had paid off for us.

SA: Vis moot required a lot of hard work, shrewdness and dedication. Not only did the moot enable me to develop a penchant towards arbitration and commercial laws, but also persuaded me to make as many friends as I can. Nevertheless, the competition was huge, amount of learning was enormous and lastly the experience as a whole was unforgettable.

I would like to quote what someone once told me, ‘A few instances of your life will actually make you cry not out of sadness, but out of delight’. Winning the award for the Best Respondent Memorandum undoubtedly turned out to be one of those ‘few instances’ for me.

NV: The whole experience was definitely everyone should have. Winning the best Respondent Memo was amazing- being the first Indian team to do it, we feel really happy doing our country proud.

B&B:  Any special moments from the moot? 

GB: Winning the citation for the Best Respondent Memorial was the most special moment of the moot.

BS: Best moment? When we won!

SA: A lot of special and unforgettable moments followed the time when we won the award. I would like to mention the most special one amongst all. After the congratulatory speech of Stefan Kroll, he told us ‘Your team is the first Indian team to win this award.’ His statement was something which I can never forget.

To end, I would sincerely like to thank Vis moot for becoming a part of my life.

NV: Definitely the awards banquet, when they announced our name. Werner Melis himself announced that we had won the award named after him- Best Respondent Memorandum in the world’s largest moot court competition, the 22nd Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. That was definitely the moment I shall take back with me. Luckily for me, they’ve even uploaded a YouTube video of this.