In 2011, the SMU School of Law (renamed Yong Pung How School of Law, YPHSL this year) saw its first batch of students graduate. Also in 2011, the International Moots Programme (renamed Ian R. Taylor International Moots Programme this year) was launched. Mooters are trained rigorously and closely supervised by faculty members and a network of practising lawyers before representing SMU in international competitions. Students aspiring to take part in these moots are encouraged to develop their skills in Legal Research & Writing and to participate in local and regional moot competitions to gain competitive exposure. The students may then move on to take up the International Moots I elective, which paves the way to selection for larger-scale international moot competitions.
Many mooters in Singapore have put our country on the world map in the past, prominent individuals being the Chief Justice, the Minister of Law, Attorney-General and various Senior Counsel. YPHSL has continued this proud tradition, earning glory in a wide array of international competitions since the International Moots Programme was established ten years ago.
In the earlier years, the school focused on smaller-scale moots like the Asia Cup and LAWASIA competitions, but it was not long before it moved on to win multiple international championships such as the Price Media Law Moot in Oxford, International Criminal Court Moot in The Hague, and the Investment Arbitration Moot Court in Frankfurt. YPHSL is the tournament leader in many of these moots, and has become the youngest law school to have reached multiple championship finals of the Jessup and Vis, the two largest and most prestigious moots in the world.
Before the season began this year, YPHSL set an internal target to bring its 89 podium finishes (a record breaking number compared to any other law school in the world in the same period) across regional and international competitions to 100, in commemoration of the School’s 10th year anniversary. It exceeded its goal with 102 finishes by the end of the season.
Noteworthy achievements include:
Bringing home the trophy of the PAX Moot in Europe, one of the rare moots focusing entirely on private international law or conflict of laws. YPHSL reached the finals on its debut in 2020 and winning it in April 2021 made it the youngest ever law school to do so.
Reaching the championship final three times in the last six years at the Willem C Vis Moot, the world’s largest moot on international commercial arbitration. The Vis moots in Vienna and Hong Kong are two of six Grand Slam moots that YPHSL participates in regularly. SMU has one of the best track records in Hong Kong, having won a championship and achieved podium finishes four other times. In Vienna, YPHSL became the youngest-ever school to reach the international championship final in 2015. It reached the final again in 2016 and 2021. SMU is the only university to have reached the finals in both Hong Kong and Vienna in the same year.
Winning the International Criminal Court Moot (ICC) in June. This is the world’s largest moot on international criminal law, and by winning its 4th championship in this competition, YPHSL extended its tournament record for most wins. The team also won ten awards, breaking the previous tournament record of three awards. This moot is particularly noted for the profile of the judges, in that many of the advanced round judges are actual judges or prosecutors of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Ending the season on a high note, winning the 22nd Asia Cup. Since debuting in 2010, YPHSL has reached the championship final seven times, winning four times. It is also the 4th international moot SMU has won this season.
The impressive record for YPHSL’s international mooters, as at August 2021, stands as follows:
- Placed in the Top-3 in international moots 102 times.
- Champions in 38 of the 69 championship finals they have been in.
- Won more than 200 Best Oralist and Best Memorial prizes in the 20-over competitions in which they have participated.
- In local competitions, YPHSL has won the great majority of the prizes offered since 2012.
The results, despite YPHSL’s age, are a testament to the quality of mooters that the school has trained, and the enormous effort that the students and alumni have put into preparing for the competitions since its inception.
Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Ian R. Taylor International Moots Programme, Chen Siyuan said, “We started out with the modest aim of making our students more prepared for practice: how to think better, research better, write better, speak better, understand different points of view, be a team player, and be more resilient. But mooting is also about friendship and being part of a community. It is only through the efforts of our alumni and partners such as WongPartnership that we have created a programme that has something for everyone, be it smaller-scale moots for those trying their hand at mooting, or the largest and most renowned moots for which we have had sustained excellence. Now that SMU is on the world map for international moots, my hope is that SMU mooters will continue to pay it forward and contribute to the legacy of the SMU mooting programme.”