School of Law

Lord Kerr hears Leeds mooting final in Supreme Court

20 February 2012 |

Lord Kerr heard the final of the Leeds Law Students Mooting Competition in Court Two of the Supreme Court on Wednesday 8 February 2012 at 5pm.

Leeds students Michael Yap, George Wills, Ashley Fairbrother and Stuart Bell went head to head in the final for the Leeds Mooting Cup after battling their way through four rounds of the competition.

Lord Kerr, one of only twelve Justices of the Supreme Court, was impressed by the four finalists’ standard of advocacy, and said: “All show startling promise as advocates in the future ... and exhibit tremendous aptitude.”

The hypothetical problem before Lord Kerr and the finalists concerned a woman’s legal claim for damages for nervous shock after seeing her husband’s injuries and condition in hospital after he had died in an explosion at the fireworks factory where he worked.

The marriage had been troubled and divorce proceedings had been instituted. On hearing of the accident at the factory, the wife had dallied, appearing unconcerned. Nevertheless, she had attended at her husband’s bedside and seemed distressed at his passing.

Case law limits the circumstances in which such damages can be claimed, and Lord Kerr listened carefully to the arguments on law and policy advanced on both sides.

He declined to overturn the decision of the Court of Appeal that the wife could recover damages, and carefully explained the dilemma the Supreme Court faces in such circumstances.

He adjudged Ashley Fairbrother to be the best mooter, and the Mooting Cup was presented to Ashley in the Supreme Court, the highest appellate court in the land.

A coach load of fellow law students had travelled to London to be present in the Supreme Court for the final. After Lord Kerr awarded the cup, students and finalists retired to a local pub on Parliament Square for a buffet to congratulate the winner and mull over the day’s proceedings.

Law Students Society’s Mooting Secretary Jake Rylatt skilfully organised the event, and it has been the highlight of a very successful mooting year in which Leeds Law students have done exceptionally well in a number of national mooting competitions.

In February, a team of Leeds students mooted in the Jessup International Law Mooting Competition in London, the Essex Court National Mooting Competition in Cheltenham, the semi final of the Incorporated Council of Law Reporters National Mooting Competition at Gray’s Inn in London and a Lincoln’s Inn inter-varsity moot against Sheffield University at Lincoln’s Inn in London. The students have been supported in their mooting activities by Law School lecturer Judith Dahlgreen. 

Marika Kinsey and Jane Gordois (LLB-third year) won the semi- final of the Incorporated Council of Law Reporters National Mooting Competition in Gray's Inn on 28 February 2012 in front of Lord Justice Mcfarlane and Margaret Bowron QC. Eleven students went as spectators. The final will be at the Law Society in London on 28 March 2012 against City University. 

About Mooting

A moot is a legal argument in which difficult points of law are applied to a particular set of hypothetical facts by mooters, or legal counsel, who try to convince the judge that their understanding and application of the law is correct.

Time is strictly limited and formal legal language is used. Eloquence, persuasiveness and concision are required and, of course, a thorough and detailed knowledge of the case law which grounds and develops the law in that area. An ability to stand up to rigorous and detailed questioning is also essential.

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