The ESU-Essex Court National Mooting Competition 2021-22
Written by Sarah Hair
In November 2021, I was selected with Eli Baxter to represent Queen’s University in the 50th Annual National Mooting Competition organised by the English-Speaking Union and Essex Court Chambers. Aside from the reputation of the competition and the rigorous empirical experience it provides, motivating factors for participation include very generous monetary prizes, mini-pupillages, and an invitation to the winners to represent the UK in the Commonwealth Moot.
In our first round in February 2022, we faced off against Warwick University in an occupier’s liability case which i) questioned whether a theatre’s duty of care extended to taking Covid-19 precautions beyond those required by the government (i.e. Covid-19 ‘guidance’ versus ‘rules’), and ii) considered how causation is to be established in cases where an individual claims to have contracted Covid-19 as a result of an occupier’s breach of duty. The round was a home match, presided over by Sir Declan Morgan, former Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland.
Following this win, the next round in March was an away match against Inner Temple Inn of Court – and upon hearing this, we were spurred into scrupulous preparation. The moot problem was based on R v Andrewes  EWCA 1055: where a defendant has falsified their CV and thereby obtained employment and wages as a result, i) is the remuneration for work performed too far removed from the crime to merit confiscation, and ii) is it proportionate to confiscate the full earnings for the duration of the employment? We successfully argued these were to be answered in the negative, despite the outcome of Andrewes, and won the round.
This brought us to the Quarterfinals in April, against University of Law Bristol. This round was another Covid-19 related case, this time on contract law. The problem asked i) where a healthcare provider had contracted with a surgical-grade PPE manufacturer for regular supply of face masks for use in hospitals and surgery, was there a term implied in the contract that said masks were to be of surgical-grade, and ii) how an ‘all reasonable endeavours’ clause was to be interpreted in the case context. We were overjoyed to win this round, as this qualified us for the in-person Grand Finals in London, the furthest a team from Queen’s had made it through this competition.
The Grand Finals in July comprised the Semifinal Round in the morning at Dartmouth House, a beautiful historic venue in Mayfair, and the Final Round and reception in the evening at the UK Supreme Court. The moot problem, based on Singaporean case Quoine Pte Ltd v B2C2 Ltd  SGCA (I) 02 was a complex one on contract and cryptocurrency markets, asking if and how the doctrine of unilateral mistake might apply where contracts for purchase of cryptocurrency were independently concluded by algorithms.
Unfortunately we lost to Cambridge University in the penultimate match of the competition; regardless, the ESU-Essex Court Moot remains the highlight of my degree, in the unparalleled practical experience it provided and the advocacy skills acquired. Furthermore, we certainly could not have progressed so far without the guidance and support of our wonderful mooting team: Dr David Capper, Dr John Stannard, and Chloe Hanna – sincerest thanks for their time and energy.