This was the first time that Lord Briggs had judged a moot in over 10 years and we had been told he would not be going easy on us. The problem was a Company Law issue on a fictitious public company known as Rarecaster. None of the speakers on either team had studied Company law which made this particularly challenging. The main ground for lead counsel concerned arguing for or against overruling a key case on financial assistance. The ground for junior counsel was on whether winding up of a public company should be ordered, and why other mechanisms such as unfair prejudice petition would or would not be preferable. My team (Team Hodge) was the appellant team and we were fortunate enough to win the moot. The experience of mooting in the Supreme Court was fantastic, and I wanted to share more about it in this blog post.
Before heading down to London, each team made sure that their bundles were perfect as they were to be given to Lord Briggs and his judicial assistant upon our arrival. When we arrived at the Supreme Court and before the moot began, we were given a tour of the Court and had some time for final preparations.
The tour was fantastic and we visited the three court rooms. The first court we visited is the main one where cases such as Miller had been heard. This was also the court we mooted in. The room was certainly imposing, with the bench dominating the room and with incredible architecture. The second court felt more personal to the Supreme Court because it contained art and decoration decided on by the first Supreme Court Justices, including a pop art version of the logo of the court. The final court was the Privy Council room, which was set up ready to hear a case involving Jamaican law. For me, the highlight of the tour was visiting the library. The library is not open to the public so it was a rare treat to be invited inside it.
After our tour it was time for the mooting final to begin. Lord Briggs decided to make the moot as close to the reality of practice as possible by providing us with a case 5 minutes before the moot. This case related to the arguments of junior counsel, and appeared to be in opposition to the junior appellant’s submissions. We were told he could ask questions on this case at any point during our speaking time. This meant we had to quickly skim the case and focus on incorporating (or in my case distinguishing!) the judgment within our pre-prepared arguments. Whilst nerve-wracking, the moot was extremely enjoyable and afterwards Lord Briggs praised how well both teams handled the last-minute case and joked that this is something that would likely happen to us in practice too. He shared some of his experiences of last-minute research whilst in practice, explaining how on occasion he had had to research a case during a hearing and present it to counsel then and there. Thus, whilst I had been nervous about being presented with a case just before the moot, upon reflection it was a really useful exercise to simulate life at the Bar. Each of us received individual feedback on our performances from Lord Briggs (which isn’t an opportunity you get everyday!) He commented that we would all make fine advocates and hoped we would pursue careers at the Bar.
The current Mooting Officer (Jordan Brown) put a lot of work into getting the final held at the Supreme Court. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had this rare and fantastic opportunity to moot in front of a Supreme Court Justice.