Have you just stepped into the glorious world of mooting? Then you need to understand that mooting isn’t just a mere competition. It has its own set of rules and forms of working. As a moot participant, you are expected to know and use a few moot court terminologies, which are generally accepted in every moot competition. India’s first mooting school, Memo Pundits keeps organizing fun workshops to acquaint law students with mooting. Here is a list of eight terminologies that you must know if you are a novice mooter.
1. ‘The Counsel pleads ignorance’
Judges enjoy grilling the participants. Some judges even try to confuse you by bombarding you with questions that might not be necessarily relevant to your moot proposition or subject. There might be times where you don’t have an appropriate answer to a particular query. When that happens, if a participant dodges a question by saying ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I am unaware’ or by simply nodding his head, it tends to leave a terrible impression. Therefore, it is advisable when you feel stuck at any question, you must respond by saying ‘The counsel pleads ignorance’. Politely use this phrase but do not lose confidence.
Remember that this is simply a formal way of expressing your ignorance towards the question that has been thrown at you. Please understand that this phrase is not going to save you from any mark deduction if you are unaware of a fact or a law which you ought to have known.
However, if there comes a time where you have to use this phrase, compliment it by expressing that you are willing to read up on the subject matter of the question that has been posed to you. This will reflect your sincerity.
2. Lordship/ Excellency
Unlike the general practice in a Court of referring to judges as ‘Your Honour’ or ‘Janab’ or ‘Judge Sahab’ (common in district courts), during national moot court competitions centered around any domestic law, generally, judges are generally addressed as Lordships. If there is a bench of female judges, then refer to the bench as your ladyships. If there is a bench consisting of both male and female judges then you may refer to the bench as lordships collectively but when addressing the female judge(s) individually, stick to the usage of ladyship only.
In case of national moot court competitions on international law or international moot court competitions, judges are referred to as Excellencies. However, one must always ask the judges before commencing with the arguments whether they are comfortable in being referred to as lordships/ excellencies.
If they want to be addressed with a different term or salutation, make sure that you use the term that has been communicated to you by the panel of judges.
3. Counsel/ Agent
As a general practice, the use of first-person is strictly prohibited in all moot court competitions. Hence, you must never refer to yourselves or your team as I, we, us, etc. You should rather use the terms counsel and co-counsel or agent and co-agent. The former is used in national moot court competitions centered around domestic laws because you are representing a client. But, for international moots and international law moots, the latter is used, considering that here you are representing the State.
Some competitions also allow the usage of first-person, but such exceptions are always mentioned in the rule sheet. Hence, read the rule sheet carefully and use the terminologies accordingly. In written submissions, a common mistake involves using the council instead of counsel. Make sure you are using the right terminology.
These are little things but remember that you are participating and speaking at a formal event and that is why every slight detail goes a long way in ensuring your success.
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4. ‘Indeed your lordship/excellency’
Court etiquette carries a handsome number of marks. Hence, while practicing your speech for the arguments, practice the largely practiced and accepted court etiquette.
Whenever, the judge asks you a question or gives a suggestion or asks you to skip and move to a certain point from your arguments, it is considered very polite to bow before the judge and say, ‘Indeed your lordship/excellency’. This reflects your humility and respect for the bench.
A fun fact is that using this sentence will also spare you a few seconds to think about what to say next.
A Compendium is a concise collection of all the different authorities that you have cited in your written submission. Most students fail to pay adequate attention to this part, but a good compendium will give you an edge over other participants.
The compendium will extensively engage the judges in your arguments, as they will appreciate how you have substantiated your arguments.
Try to make a clear index and neatly place numbered flags so that the judges can specifically refer to a document if needed. Try to refer to the compendium while arguing; this will give weight and a substantial backing to your arguments.
6. Moot Compromis/ Moot Proposition/ Fact Sheet
This document shall be provided to you by the moot court competition organizer. This document consists of the basic facts and issues of the case. (Read: How to Read a Moot Problem?)
Moot Proposition should be your bible throughout your preparation. Ensure that before you start researching, you are thorough with the facts from your fact sheet.
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No moot competition is complete without a round of rebuttal and sur-rebuttal. Usually, each team gets 1-2 minutes to speak for these rounds, but they play a major part in determining the scores. After the respondent/defendant delivers the prayer, the petitioner/applicant/claimant/appellant is allowed to rebut the arguments of the opposing side. In this round, you can contradict the points mentioned by your opponent.
Remember that you cannot raise any new point or issue. Your rebuttal has to revolve only around the arguments advanced by the opposite party. After the rebuttal round, the respondent is then given an opportunity to answer the contradictions raised during the rebuttal round. This is known as sur-rebuttal. Ensure that you only give answers to the contradictions made by the opposite party in the sur-rebuttal round.
While preparing for the oral rounds of your moot court competition, you are always suggested to prepare a speech sheet known as a transcript. (Read: How to Prepare for Oral Rounds in a Moot Court Competition?) Practice time management using the transcript. You should always try to make a transcript using pointers. Highlight the important portions of each sub-issue because there might be a possibility that you are left with very limited time to complete an entire issue.
We hope you have gained clarity on these important moot court terminologies! Keep tuned in to Memo Pundits for more facts and fun. Happy Mooting!
About the Author: Yashi Agrawal is a student at Maharashtra National Law University, Nagpur. She is currently holding the post of the Co-Convenor of the Moot court Committee. Ever since she came to know of it, she has been immensely lured by the world of mooting. She also has great experience in writing blogs for law students.
About the Editor: Shivangi Bajpai is a graduate from National Law University Odisha. As a fresher in law school, she was a part of an online law school magazine called Ergo (lawyergo.com) which was largely a peer-connect platform for students from law fraternity. She has remarkable research skills and was a researcher in Henry Dunant Moot Court Competition, in her second year of law school. She considers herself a solution-oriented individual making her an effective problem solver.