In the previous clip, the focus was on preparation. In this clip, Otto Spijkers will provide you with tips on how to structure your pleadings, and how to successfully deliver your pleadings. The pleadings consist of three parts: the introduction, the argumentation, and the conclusion. I will look at each part in turn. And then mr Spijkers will finish with some tips about attitude, speaking voice, posture, and how to deal with questions from the Court.

The first minute while pleading in moot court is crucial: you need to persuade the court of your credibility – why should the judges listen to you – and persuade them that this dispute really matters to you. Try to come up with a dynamic opening, to immediately grab the attention of the Moot Court. You can appeal to the emotions of the judges, by explaining the relevance of the present dispute to real people. You close your introduction by giving a short outline of your line of argumentation. You need to label your arguments, and introduce those labels in the introduction. For example, you could have a “self-defence” argument, and a “humanitarian intervention” argument, and so on. Later, when you develop your argumentation, you need to introduce each argument by referring to its label. This way, the structure of your argumentation is clear, and the judges know exactly what they can expect throughout your argumentation.

Your Argumentation in Moot Court

After the introduction, you get to your argumentation. Structure is crucial. Try to identify the three most important arguments, label them, and structure your pleadings around them. Express your ideas in straightforward and simple language. Do not try to impress with pretentious or technical expressions or jargon, or by dumping a long list of cases on the Moot Court. This will only annoy them, because they will not be familiar with most of these cases. In short: keep it simple. The aim of your argumentation is to convince the Court why you are right, and why your opponent is wrong, or rather: why your point of view is the better one. You do this by applying the most authoritative and relevant sources of international law to the facts. Don't give a theoretical lecture, but assist the judges in reaching an informed decision. Pretend to be objective, but at the same time: the State you represent is always right and the other party is always wrong.

Concluding in Moot Court

After your argumentation, it is time to conclude. People remember best what they hear last. So, you need to end with a strong statement, and a call to action for the Moot Court. In your conclusion, you begin by briefly summarizing the arguments that you have put forward, using the labels (the “self-defence” argument, “humanitarian intervention” argument, etc.). Do not spend too much time on this, only use a maximum of one or two sentences. Emphasize the points in your argumentation that came across most convincingly during the pleadings. This means you need to look at the Court’s reaction when developing your argumentation, to see which arguments impress them the most. And remind the Court of the main weaknesses in your opponent’s arguments. To do this, you need to keep an eye on the judges when your opponents are pleading, and see which of your opponent’s arguments were least convincing to the Court. You must tell the Court exactly what you are asking it to do. And you must assure the judges that they have the competence to do it. This means you need to explain why the Court has jurisdiction, and why the claim is admissible. You must persuade the Court that the ruling you are asking for is not only the one that is best supported by the sources of international law, and the best solution for this particular case, but also that it is the most just solution for all similar cases that are to follow. In other words, you ask the Court to set a powerful precedent. At the very end, you must remind the Court once again of the larger importance of the present dispute. Try to persuade the judges that the decision they are going to make will have major consequences for society, for the development of international law, etc. You can refer back to the remarks you made in your introduction.

I will also give some tips on how to deal with questions from the Court, on your “attitude”, speaking style, and posture. Find the video, here: https://youtu.be/_Ce5A8IEeJA 

Mr Otto Spijkers is University Lecturer of Public International Law at Utrecht University School of Law, Senior Research Associate with the Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea (NILOS), and with the Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law (UCWOSL)