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【Great News】Newcomers rank among the best! The UIBE Law School's FDI Moot Court Team was awarded “Top 4” in the world, achieving the best record of Chinese team so far!


(Picture One: Team members in the ceremony of the Global Round)

The FDI Moot is a prestigious student competition on international investment law, organized by five international institutions including the Centre for International Legal Studies (CILS) and the German Institution of Arbitration. The competition spans approximately six months in two phases: written memorials for claimant and respondent, and the hearing of oral arguments in two qualifying stages: the Regional Rounds and the Global Rounds. In 2017, 104 teams from 34 countries had registered for this competition, which was narrowed down to 48 teams (consisting of 250 participants) that qualified in the global rounds for the champion of the FDI Moot.

The 2017 UIBE Team was comprised of six outstanding law school students: Xiong Liyuan (Team Captain and Oralist, third-year undergraduate); Li Mingzhe (Oralist, fourth-year undergraduate); Liu Chenxiao (Researcher, third-year undergraduate); Feng Yi (Researcher, third-year undergraduate); Xu Zheyuan (Researcher, second-year graduate); and Wang Ziheng (Researcher, second-year graduate).


FDI Moot Asia Pacific Rounds (“AP Rounds”)

To qualify for the Global Rounds, the UIBE Team first had to finish in the top 6 of the AP Rounds held from August 10-12, 2017 in Seoul, Korea and hosted by Seoul National University Law School. 21 teams from well-known Asian universities had registered for the AP Rounds. As newcomers, the UIBE Team had to complete 7 sessions of oral hearings in 2 days of tough competition, and the team was well-prepared and up to the challenge.


(Picture Two: Coach Mr. Eric Ng (left) and team members in the ceremony of the AP Regional Round)

In the preliminary rounds, the UIBE Team faced four strong competitors from Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines, three of whom were among the Top 4 teams in the 2016 AP Round. The UIBE Team was able to advance to the quarter-final with top scores and the respect of the judging panels and fellow participants. In the AP Rounds, the UIBE Team competed and recorded wins against Hong Kong University and Tsinghua University. In the semi-finals, the UIBE Team was pitted against De La Salle University, winner of the 2016 and this 2017 AP Round. This was the biggest challenge yet to this young team. Undaunted, the UIBE participants impressed the arbitrators with their comprehensive legal understanding, professional mannerisms and strong legal arguments but suffered a narrow loss. Still, they made a strong showing and finished as the second runner-up in this year’s AP Round, which qualified them to move on to the “big-stage” of the Global Rounds. 


FDI Moot Global Rounds

The Global Rounds were held from November 2-5, 2017, in Boston, and was hosted by Suffolk University Law School. The UIBE Team capitalized on its experience and success in the previous AP Rounds to compete against world-class teams from India, Germany, Columbia, Brazil, Australia, Russia and the Czech Republic. In the preliminary rounds, the UIBE Team ranked first in its group, which qualified them to the elimination rounds where they achieved two more hard-fought victories. Eventually, the UIBE Team won the Top 4 Award (ranked above distinguished teams from Harvard, UCL, Ottawa and other prestigious universities) as well as Second-Place for its Respondent Memorial, which was published in the prestigious journal, TDM Journal 5 (December, 2017).


(Picture Three: UIBE Team and the team of University of Passau in the preliminary round)

In the first four matches of the preliminary rounds, the UIBE Team competed against traditionally strong teams from India, Brazil, Germany and the Rosario University team from Columbia (previous winner of the ICC Moot Court competition), respectively. With each of these teams, the UIBE Team had to contend with the opposing counsels fluent English, well-preparedness and competent performances. The UIBE participants treated each match with poise and confidence and presented methodical legal positions while successfully rebutting the opposing counsels arguments all while showing their own strong legal English competency. In response to the tribunals series of complex substantive and procedural legal questions, the UIBE Team was able to give precise and substantiated answers while effortlessly adjusting to the various legal issues at-hand.


(Picture Four: UIBE Team and the team of Universidade de São Pauloin the preliminary round)

The UIBE Team encountered an extremely competent team from Brazil in the final match, whose arguments were logical and clearly expressed. Matching the skill level of its opponent, the UIBE Team delivered its best performance yet, quickly seizing upon and capitalizing on the opposing counsel’s weaker argument points and maintaining control of the match. As a result of their impressive collective performance in these 4 matches, the UIBE Team received high scores and placed first in its group of the preliminary rounds which qualified them to advance to the elimination rounds with 15 other teams.

In the elimination rounds, 16 winning teams participated in assigned matches and were eliminated to a round of 8 teams of which each match winner moved on to the semi-final rounds. Under unaccustomed pressure, the UIBE Team first confronted opposing counsel’s from India and then Australia. Against these strong competitors, the UIBE oralists continued their winning momentum by maintaining their steady pace and clear voice while ably switching between claimant and respondent roles. Impressed by the UIBE team’s persuasive legal arguments, solid authorities cited and professional mannerisms, the tribunals gave the win to the UIBE Team in both of the above matches, qualifying them as a top 4 team and securing a place for the UIBE Team in the semi-final rounds.  


(Picture Five: UIBE Team and the team of Murdoch University in the elimination round)

In the semi-final round and the small-final round, the UIBE Team faced an experienced Czech Republic and Russia team, respectively. These matches were evenly matched and highly competitive, as the arbitrators considered the case from both facts and law, and conducted hotly-debated discussions on double jeopardy, definition of investment, denial of benefits clause, fair and equitable treatment and denial of justice by the host state. The UIBE oralists fought valiantly in both matches, and showed the strength of their legal knowledge and analytical skills. In one match, the UIBE Team successfully rebutted the opponent’s example of how a small business enterprise could not meet the standards of “investment”. In another match, the UIBE Team made an analogy of the U.S. President’s tweets to the issue at-hand which brought knowing looks and light-hearted acknowledgement from the tribunal. In these ways, the UIBE Team showed not only their legal aptitude but also their apt communication skills, international awareness and keen personalities.

Additionally, the strong performances by the UIBE Team in these elimination rounds and previous rounds required the team effort and work of all the team members including the team’s researchers who from the start and up until the last match, steadfastly and continually adjusted and fine-tuned the team’s research on applicable issues, who helped to organize materials and manage information and provided support in late-night oral practice sessions. 


(Picture Six: UIBE Team and the team of Lomonosov Moscow State University in the small-final round)

In these last two matches, the arbitrators spoke highly of the UIBE Team’s performance and given the high-caliber level of the teams in both matches, the arbitrators had to deliberate at length but ultimately resulted in a narrow loss for the UIBE Team against the worthy Czech Republic and Russia teams. 

For the UIBE Team the disappointment in these two final losses was mixed with exhilaration from their completion of a long journey and their overall achievement. The UIBE Team’s “Top 4” finish in the 2017 FDI Moot is the best finish for a UIBE moot court team in such global competition and the highest position a Chinese team has achieved in this distinguished student competition. This outstanding achievement reflects the high educational standard of UIBE law school and also shows the professional demeanor and legal ability of the UIBE law school students to the international legal and academic community.


“This experience enabled me to see more possibilities of a legal career and maybe imagine something bigger in my future than before.”

According to UIBE participants, taking part in this moot competition was a tremendous learning opportunity and worth the efforts.This competition made me think a lot about legal fundamentals like the balancing of parties’ interests and the construction of legal rules,” said the team member Liu Chenxiao. As to the experience of international competition, he further added, “This experience enabled me to see more possibilities of a legal career and maybe imagine something bigger in my future than before.”


(Picture Seven: UIBE Team in the elimination round)

This is the first time for UIBE Law School to participate in the FDI Moot, which is the most prominent international academic law competition in the field of international investment arbitration. Competing amongst more than 100 international teams from distinguished universities on a regional and global level, the UIBE Team’s legal foundation, work ethic and industriousness stood out and was fully recognized by international legal community.

The UIBE Teams accomplishments are also made possible from the support and encouragement of UIBE Law School including its faculty, students and alumni. In particular, the team’s coach, Professor Eric Ng, (Global Oralist Winner of the 2013 Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Competition) shared valuable advice and tirelessly coached the team members, ensuring that they had the best guidance during their preparation and practice stages. In addition, UIBE law faculty such as Professor Matthew Kennedy, visiting scholar Professor Donald Lewis and previous moot courts leaders and participants, including: Lan Nan, Feng Kun, Wang Chen, Xu Tianyi, Tang Sisi, Shang Lin, and other schoolmates and alumina, though all busily engaged in their own work, made time to provide their support to the team.


(Picture Eight: FDI Board and UIBE Team in the awarding ceremony of the Global Round)

In addition, mentors in industry and academia at home and abroad contributed their own efforts to support the team’s development. Lawyer Peng Jun of Jincheng Tongda & Neal law firm provided sponsorship for the team’s Global Round competition in the U.S. Scholar Zhang Weiwei of the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) and Lawyer Sun Huawei of Zhong Lun law firm, both well-known FDI legal specialists, selflessly assisted in the team’s practice sessions and offered valuable advice.

The UIBE Law School’s motto is “Maintain integrity, strive for perfection, put into practice and cherish lofty ambitions.” which reflects high educational standards. Led by Dean Professor Shi Jingxia, the law school maintains a legacy and continues their efforts in the area of international economic law, especially concerning the students’ development of a highly proficient legal foundation and qualified legal professional skills, as well as a high quality teaching environment and learning opportunities. International moot court competitions, such as the FDI Moot, serve as significant platforms and markers of these educational objectives and learning opportunities. By their perseverance and accomplishments in the 2017 FDI Moot, the UIBE Team successfully represented themselves and UIBE Law School on an international stage, showing the quality of legal education in the current class while inspiring and setting a continuing standard of excellence for future classes.

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