How the NLU Jodhpur team won the 21st Willem C Vis (East) International Commercial Arbitration Moot

This is the first time NLU Jodhpur has won the world rounds of the international moot held at Hong Kong.
L to R:  Ananya Dehpande, Kavya Gupta, Ananya Jaria, Samiksha Lohia, Disha Gandhi
L to R: Ananya Dehpande, Kavya Gupta, Ananya Jaria, Samiksha Lohia, Disha Gandhi

A team from National Law University, Jodhpur (NLU Jodhphur) comprising Ananya Deshpande, Kavya Gupta, Ananya Jaria, Samiksha Lohia and Disha Gandhi won the 21st Willem C Vis (East) Internation Commercial Moot Court Competition, 2024 held at Hong Kong from 10-17th March.

Jaria won the Best Individual Oralist Award and Disha Gandhi secured the 2nd Best Oralist Award

Additionally, the team also won the 1st Runners Up Award for Best Claimant Memorandum.

Bar & Bench's Jelsyna Chacko caught up with the winning team to discuss their experience.

Edited excerpts follow.

Jelsyna Chacko (JC): What prompted you to pick this moot court competition?

Disha Gandhi (DG) - All of us found an interest in international arbitration, and we were all really intrigued by what it is. In college, there was always a buzz about going for this particular moot, and that it would be an immense experience, an incredible journey on its own.

Samiksha Lohia (SL) - All of us were friends before teaming up for the moot. For the challengers itself, we had to form a team beforehand. The four of us - Ananya Jaria, Disha, Kavya, and I - we're all batchmates as well. We live on the same floor, in the same hostel. We met Ananya Deshpande, because she was a junior and she had worked with Disha in some college committees.

JC: How did you go about preparing for the moot?

Ananya Jaria (AJ) - Our University challengers happened back in September. We get a previous year Vis problem, based on which we competed with other teams within the University and got the moot allotted to us. So, essentially, all things related to Vis - pre-readings and all - we've been doing since August. And then when the proposition came out, we worked further on it. We approached people to take practice rounds and did multiple readings.

JC: Can you recall some nerve-racking moments while preparing for the moot or during the moot and how did you navigate them? 

Kavya Gupta (KG) - ‘Nerve-racking’ is an understatement! Since its a 10-day moot, every alternate day, they announce breaks and you get to know whether you proceed further or not. So, every single time breaks would be announced, one member of the team (me), would stay outside the room and pray about the result, and then the team would just run outside and tell me we have proceeded to the next round. That's how nerve-racking the breaks were. Apart from that, before the moot, the practice rounds we had with the foreign universities were pretty challenging as well. So, that's a different experience that Vis brings to your table. 

Ananya Deshpande (AD) - I recall two incidents. One was just after our quarterfinals. It was a very close round, and we were very, very scared, to the point that we went around finding a place to pray. We went around finding a mandir, a gurdwara. Another nerve-racking moment that comes to my mind is that all of our speakers, at one point of time, were not well during the competition.

DG - Before every break round, you get a lot of anxiety and you're nervous about what is to happen. Apart from Kavya being outside the room, everytime results were announced, including during the finals result, all of us used to just hold each other's hands and wait in anticipation about the announcements. Everytime they announced results, especially after the finals, when they mentioned NLU Jodhpur as the winners, it was a very exhilarating moment.

AJ- The nerves started from the challengers themselves because challengers are a make-or-break factor. You just have one round. You're arguing one side. Memo scores aren't counted. There are multiple teams from our University that are very competent and have won multiple competitions before, and we have to argue against them. It's a competition between just three teams and two teams are going to make it. You don't have a lot of chances, that was the most nerve-racking moment. Also, there were a few rounds where some of us weren't doing our best. We'd feel disheartened after those rounds, but it was important to remind ourselves that this is what the practice sessions are for, so we don't lose hope. 

JC: Who were you mentored by and what role does mentorship play in the journey?

SL - We had two sets of coaches. We owe a lot of it to our internal as well as external coaches. Our external coaches were Karan Himatsingka, Lahar Jain, Sarthak Malhotra, Akhil Unnam and Puloma Mukherjee. We have two student coaches as well - Simran Bherwani and Vipashyana Hilsayan. All of them have been instrumental throughout the last eight months. I cannot emphasise enough the amount of dedication all of them have shown. They've all stayed up late nights with our calls and they've been so active whenever we have doubts or questions and I'm sure we've troubled them a lot. But I know they're also equally proud of us. They did express the same after all our achievements, no matter how small or how big. They were also very instrumental in making sure that after every round, it was always constructive criticism. Even during the memo stage, they sat through several rounds of checking through the memos as well, several rounds of reading our transcripts.

DG - More than just being our coaches, they became family for us.

I remember us calling our coaches before the rounds and when we were anxious or we were a little restless about how the round would go. Just a five-minute conversation would calm us down. It didn't even feel like it's a professional setting. They really were like family to us which really helped us all throughout the way because, of course, it's a really long journey. You need to keep yourself motivated through it all. 

JC: Any message you would like to share with prospective participants for the future?

Just one thing, we've always been told that this is an incredible journey and will be an experience of its own. But I think now that we've finally done it, we realize it. Nothing is unattainable. To everyone who is going to do it again, just one thing, bring the cup back home to India!

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