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Law Students Get Practice in an International Competition

DOHA—In an attempt to make learning law more practical and less theoretical, teams from eight Arab universities participated in the second regional Arabic Moot Court Competition here earlier this month.

Bir Zeit University team won the final round of the competition against students of Sultan Qaboos University, in Oman.

Organized by the law faculty at Qatar University in collaboration with the Doha Center for Media Freedom, the court provides a way for law students to get a feel for real court proceedings.

A professor of constitutional law at the University of Baghdad, Mussadaq Adel Talib, said the study of law tends to be theoretical and thus the contests help students learn law’s practical side.

“The competition is one of the leading experiences in the Arab world,” he said. “It creates opportunities for students to practice defenses and issues relating to claims and improve their practical advocacy.”

Students from the universities of Bir Zeit, Sultan Qaboos, Kuwait, Tunisia, Baghdad, Jordan, Qatar and Beirut Arab University, all participated in the contest which concluded on April 8th.

In moot courts, law students take part in simulated proceedings, where they act as advocates, submit written memorandums and offer oral arguments.

The associate dean for communication and community affairs at the College of Law at Qatar University, Yassin El-Shazly, said this competition is not about winning or losing, since all students will benefit from the experience.

“The aim of this competition is to transfer law students from the theoretical study stage to a practical stage,” he said, “where they compete in oral and written rounds and eventually polish their advocacy and oral pleading skills.”

Amar Jabi, a participant from Lebanon, found the pace a challenge but  enjoyed the experience. “It was a fierce competition,” he said. “All teams were strong. However, it was very beneficial in terms of practicing the writing of memorandums and simulating a real court.”

Students were provided with the same set of laws to refer to in their pleadings. Judges come from different schools of law, and students’ knowledge of international and regional law made a difference when responding to judges’ queries.

“Judges come from different countries, so they have different ways of thinking,” said Jabi. “We have to respond to specific questions from them all. This was a bit difficult, but participation in the competition was beneficial in easing the intimidation of standing in front of judges for the first time.”

“It’s a way to practice how to talk, stand, argue and adjust your tone. These are all important skills for a lawyer”.

Organizers chose a case related to media freedom as the subject of the contest. The case revolved around charges against a television show announcer. The charges included insulting the president of the state and defaming religion on television.

The head of the Office of the Kuwaiti Association of Accountants, Fayez al-Fadhli, participated in the competition as a judge, among other 15 judges. He said it was a good idea to gather youth to debate a topic relevant to current events in several Arab countries.

All participating students received mentoring and training on their written and oral arguments for the moot court. The proceedings were in Arabic.

A professor at the Faculty of Legal Sciences in Tunisia and the coach of the Tunisian team, Khalid Al-Mejri said that, in most Arab countries, civil law has roots in Sharia (Islamic law), but that is not the case in Tunisia. But when it comes to criminal law, which was the law being considered in the competition, most Arab countries follow the secular French tradition.

“On the personal level, the competition helped students recognize their points of weakness and strength and develop a distinct style,” he said.

Al-Mejri said the contest was an opportunity for teachers and not only students. “I was surprised to see that some universities teach oral arguments in front of court as an independent subject. This is something we can replicate in Tunisia,” he said.
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