Moot Court Advocacy Series – Season I: ‘Written Advocacy’, Episode VIII: ‘The Great Don’ts’

Hello! So far, we have discussed many ‘dos’. But a good written submission is not only about doing things right – it also about not making mistakes that can overshadow what you did well. Avoid the following ‘don’ts’ and your written submission is far more likely to receive high scores:

  1. Do not misstate

Never lie or misstate the facts or the law. If you get caught – your credibility is in ruins. If you are dishonest about one point, can judges or arbitrators trust such you with other arguments? I believe that an outright lie hardly ever is a case: it is too easy to track, so nobody thinks it is a good idea. I would rather be more careful with selective quoting that may be perceive as a manipulation. If you omit or cut too much you can distort what your source really meant.

  1. Do not be an a… appalling person

A legal dispute is an intellectual exercise , not a bar brawl. No matter how much wrong the other party did to the client you represent, you must remain respectful.  Never insult the other party or make sweeping statements about them which lack confirmation in the facts of the case. Do not be ironic or overconfident.  It does not mean you cannot attack weak arguments of the other party – actually, it is your job to prove that they are wrong and you are right. But you must always remain courteous and do it without insulting or humiliating them.

  1. Do not stray from your argument

When you are arguing you case, argue your case. Every remark or digression that is not fully relevant to the argument distracts your reader. At best, it is only perceived as irrelevant and immediately forgotten, i the worst case – is a distraction that undermines your persuasiveness. A written submission is not a place where you have the freedom to roam freely between issues and points of view and controversies among scholars. Just make your point clearly, support it with the best arguments you have and move on to another.

  1. Do not get personal

Your written submission is an official position of your client in the proceedings. Neither ‘I’, nor ‘we’ interest tribunals. Do not confuse the judges and arbitrators with sentences indicating that you support a particular position as a counsel without indicating that it is also Claimant’s or Respndent’s point of view.

  1. Do not stick to schemes you know from national legal orders

Unless you take part in a national moot court with people from the very same jurisdiction do not rely too much on traditional schemes or ideas you derive from  your home jurisdiction. It might be the way you structure your arguments, language register, practically – almost every aspect of legal writing. In the melting pot of international dispute resolution that moot courts frequently try to recreate a new system is being constantly shaped. Adhere to these international standards to avoid controversy.

These are not all the ‘don’ts’ that should be avoided. In the next post we will have a look at five more. However, getting rid of what we have already covered should save you a lot of points!



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