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SCC Spotlight Talk: Patricia Shaughnessy

The largest and most prestigious student competition in arbitration, the Vis Moot, is approaching. But how can we better support the teams facing challenges with access to resources and financial aid? We interviewed Patricia Shaughnessy, who is the President of the competition.

Published 2024-02-22

Spotlight Talk Patricia

The Vis Moot

The Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot (the Vis Moot) is a competition for law students to foster the study and practice of arbitration and international commercial sales law. At the 30th Vis Moot, 373 law school teams from 88 jurisdictions participated. More than 2500 students were involved as well as more than 1100 practitioners.  

The Vis Moot has for a long time been truly international and has a major impact on the arbitration landscape.  

The SCC is a proud sponsor of the competition and sees its importance for the represented jurisdictions as well as for the teams and team participants in competition.  

Patricia, why do you think that the Vis Moot is important for the arbitration community and how does it affect the future of arbitration?  

Over three decades the Vis Moot has grown into the largest law student competition, now annually involving approximately 400 university teams from about 90 countries, as well as over 1,000 practitioners and academics acting as “arbitrators” in the competition. About 40,000 students have been “Vis mooties”. This has created an enormous Vis community, which has truly transformed students and impacted the international arbitration community and more generally commercial law practice. The Vis Moot community provides an arena for learning, sharing, and connecting the diverse arbitration communities across the globe and across generations.

You have been active in the competition for a very long time, what would you say are the main trends today?  

The level of performance and quality of the research, memoranda, and oral arguments have become impressive across all regions. The native “English” speakers do not have an advantage and newer entrants to the Vis Moot competition (and to arbitration) strongly compete with long-time competitors from recognized arbitration forums.  The number of “pre-moot” practice events has mushroomed across the globe. The rise of remote arbitration has increased opportunities for students to remotely attend preparatory webinars, practice sessions, and pre-moots. The Moot Alumni Association offers programs, events and support to the Vis Moot Community.

If you could have one wish come true for the Vis Moot, what would that be?  

Greater support to the many teams struggling with access to research materials, coaching, and especially financial support to participate in the oral competition, which takes place in Vienna the “sister” competition, the Vis East Moot, in Hong Kong.  This particularly affects teams from regions where arbitration is less developed and may not even be taught in universities, however even teams from established arbitration jurisdictions may struggle with getting adequate support. The legal and academic communities should provide more active support as this in their own best interests to develop the next generation and an opportunity to promote their own profile. I would also encourage more lawyers and academics to get involved, including to come to Vienna and to Hong Kong, for the oral competitions. Not only will this provide support to the moot, but it will be a wonderful and enriching experience.

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