In this blog-post, Jack Adair, President of the University of Glasgow Mooting Society 2018-19, writes about reclaiming the Sheriff Cup for the University of Glasgow, and offers tips on how to prepare for such a competition.
This year I have been blessed with the responsibility of being President of the Mooting Society. This has meant organising much of the society’s activities alongside my wonderful committee. As well as this, it is also the responsibility of the President to take on a team from the University of Strathclyde in the annual Glasgow Sheriff Cup; such a task is both terrifying and exciting.
As is usual with the external competitions, the problem was given out a few weeks in advance in order that preparation time would be possible. The moot was a rather grim child abuse case and involved two points of appeal: breach of the peace and the Moorov doctrine. To begin with, I find it most helpful to divide the points between the junior and the senior counsel and then each research his or her respective appeal ground, hence this was the approach taken by my partner (Lydia Ross) and I. I like to do it this way as once my partner and I have both researched the law, it is then possible to bounce ideas off of one another in a more coherent form, something which ultimately strengthens the arguments. Once I have a grounding on the law, the choosing of cases comes next.
Over my time as President I have been asked about hierarchy and which reports to use so I will now give a brief guide. In Scotland the civil courts are generally ranked: UK Supreme Court, Inner House, Outer House, Sheriff Appeal, Sheriff. The higher up that chain, the more authoritative a particular case is. Similarly, for criminal the hierarchy is: High Court of Appeal, High Court, Sheriff Court. As to which case reports to use, I was recently advised that the neutral citation (official transcript copies) are most advisable but otherwise stick to the Session Cases (SC), Justiciary Cases (JC) or Scots Law Times (SLT) and you cannot go far wrong.
Once authorities have been chosen I then find it to be most useful to write my speech fully in prose and then bullet point it to allow for both a natural conversational flow with a backup if my mind goes blank. Next, I like to rehearse the speech in front of a critical friend or mirror. This allows me to work on the way that I am delivering my speech and make it as persuasive as I am able to. If I do all these steps which I have laid out, I find that most judges are happy to enter into that judicial dialogue with you that a moot is supposed to represent. Consequently, the moot tends to pursue with very little hitches.
I would like to close with two points. Firstly, please do try to learn the facts of the case you are mooting very well; doing so was given as the reason for why my partner and I won our moot. Where the moot is in a particularly factual area like corroboration, there’s no point making incredibly elaborate points on the law if they are not all that relevant to the facts at hand. Secondly, I would like to pay tribute to my partner for both putting up with me and being drafted in at the last minute. This moot was only her second ever and I believe that this goes to show that mooting is very much open to anyone who wants to be involved and with the correct amount of preparation and dedication, anyone can be successful.
– Jack Adair (University of Glasgow Mooting Society President 2018-19)