The Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot (“Vis Moot”) is the largest moot court competition on international commercial arbitration and the second-largest international moot competition in the world. It has been held annually since 1994 in Vienna, Austria. It attracts over 350 teams from all over the world and has about 20 pre-moots across the world, organized to prepare participants to argue the Vis Moot itself. The purpose of the Vis Moot is to foster the study of international commercial law and arbitration and provide a practical training to students for resolving international business disputes
In July 2021, interviews were held in the UON Faculty of Law to select a team to participate in the 29th Edition of the Vis Moot. The team comprising Victor Kihika, Victor Mugo, Victor Mwangi and Rosemary Kihiko was constituted. This marked the beginning of an exciting 8 month-long moot journey in the most engaging and rewarding moot activity.
Through September to December 2021, the team conducted research guided by the coaches and prepared memoranda (written submissions) for both claimant and respondent in a case relating to palm oil contract worth USD 18 million between two European Companies. The major issues were whether the parties formed a contract under international sale of goods law, and whether they agreed to submit disputes to arbitration under international arbitration law.
In January 2022, the team started preparing for oral rounds by conducting regular training sessions. Up till April, the team conducted virtual training sessions four times a week with their coaches and guest arbitrators. They did practice pleadings (friendlies) against universities from Africa and beyond. These include Strathmore University (Kenya), University of Gambia, Monash University (Australia), Nagoya University (Japan) and the National University of Lesotho.
The team participated in various pre-moots leading to the main event: The East African Pre- Moot (In person, 16-19 Feb, organized by Africa in the Moot (AitM) held at Strathmore University in which the team emerged 3rd in Africa; the Middle East Pre- Moot (Virtually, 11-12 March, Organized by Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution- BCDR) in which the team received honorable mention for both Claimant and Respondent Memoranda; and the Permanent Court of Arbitration Hague Pre- Moot (Virtual, 4-5 April). The team had four law firm visits in which arbitration practitioners listened to their pleadings and coached the teams. We are grateful to the partners and associates from Jones Day (USA & Dubai, Triple OK Law, Coulson Harney| Bowmans, G&A Advocates and Anjarwalla & Khanna LLP | ALN Kenya who assisted the team in preparations.
The 29th Vis Moot was held virtually from 9-14 April with Anjarwalla and Khanna LLP hosting the team in their premises during the preliminary rounds. The moot attracted 2500+ students from 365 teams from 84+ countries this year. Team member, Victor Kihika received an honorable mention for the Martin Domke Award for Best Individual Oralists.
The coaches for the team were Dr. Gikonyo (faculty member in charge of mooting), Tabitha Joy Raore (Senior Associate at Anjarwalla and Khanna), Bettina Okinyi (LL.B Graduate, UON and participant in the 28th Vis Moot) and Efat Elsherif (J.D. & B.C.L. Candidate at McGill University and best oralist in the 28th Vis Moot).
The students have indeed learnt a lot in the field of international commercial arbitration from the pre-Vis trainings and research for the last eight months. The team and coaches remain grateful to the University of Nairobi School of law, Africa in the Moot, firms and individuals, who have continued to support students’ participation in the Vis Moot.