After the first quarter of Century of existence, given the rapid growth of the ELMC phenomenon and the increasing degree of recognition and prestige that it enjoys in the European Union Institutions and in the academic and legal professional worlds a brief explanation of its origin and growth seems appropriate. Following the pattern of the ELMC motto “moot, meet and compete” here is a tour through the short history.
The word “moot” originates from a Scandinavian word meaning simply a meeting. The meetings concerned were assemblies of the members of a community for legislative or judicial purposes. The word was given its present meaning in the English Inns of Court in the sixteenth century where law students would present their legal arguments on a given set of factual circumstances (often resembling real cases) before one or several senior lawyers or judges. Aspiring lawyers were thereby given experience in the art of persuasion, without having to gain such experience at the risk of inadvertently damaging a real client’s interests. Various regional, national and even international mooting competitions have developed through the years such as the renowned Philip C. Jessup international law moot court competition, established in 1959. The European Law Moot Court is developing rapidly into an organisation of similar scale and reputation.
Although moots on points of European Community law had been organized on an ad hoc basis, between 1983 and 1985 by the Court of Justice itself, it was not until 1988, when a group of Munich University law students met in the appropriately bucolic setting of a beer-garden, that the foundations for the now well-established European Law Moot Court were laid. Their motivation was to raise awareness of the subject of European Community law and to promote contact between law students throughout Europe. With the active encouragement of Lord Mackenzie Stuart and his successor as President of the Court of Justice, Ole Due, work was begun on preparing the first edition of the Moot Court. The rules, which still form the basis of the structure of today’s competition, were drawn up and a slippery legal problem was drafted. Thanks to the good offices of Mr Emile Noël, then principal of the European University Institute in Florence, the delightful Villa Schifanoia was made available as the venue for the first Moot Court in the hot summer of 1989. After a dramatic final a distinguished panel of judges presided over by José Luis da Cruz Vilaça, then President of the Court of First Instance, selected the Free University of Brussels as the winner among the eleven participating teams.
Through the enthusiasm of those who had taken part the success of the first competition quickly became known throughout Europe and the Moot Court expanded. Not only did the organisation include now students from Utrecht, the competition also moved to a system based upon Regional rounds and a Final at the Court of Justice. On the invitation of President Ole Due the Final was held in 1991 for the first time in Luxembourg before a panel of judges drawn from the members of the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance. By 1997 the competition had expanded to such a scale that, with 63 teams participating in the written round, for the first time four Regionals were held.
In 1998 the Society organised the first special edition Moot Court for the EXPO 98 world exhibition in Lisbon, bringing the Competition to a new level of complexity and organisational perfection.
It should be noted that today teams that compete come not only from Member States of the European Union but also from the Central and East-european countries, the U.S.A.Canada, and even Australia. Regional finals have been held in various cities such as Thessaloniki, Exeter, Vienna, Bruges, Maastricht, Stockholm, Toulouse, Lisbon, Parma, Copenhagen, Budapest, Warsaw, Durham, Tallinn, Tartu, Prague, Edimburgh, Toulouse, Uppsala, Florence, S. Francisco (USA), Basel, Cologne, Maastricht, Zagreb, Pécs, Istanbul, Kiev,Helsinki, Paris, Madrid, Bratislava, Vilnius, Riga, etc.
The ELMC Society, a voluntary association in which several nationalities are represented, continues to refine the rules and supervise the material organization of each year’s competition including the co-ordination of written pleadings, Regionals and the Final. The co-ordination of each competition has passed from the hands of Munich through organizers in Utrecht, Dublin, Exeter, Nijmegen, Maastricht, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Lisbon and now Madrid. Looking to the future the ELMC Society is now firmly established on well structured lines and enjoys the active support of the Community Institutions and major law firms in several countries. With a dedicated and highly motivated organisation and the successful track record of the past years we are confident that the European Law Moot Court will continue to provide participants with an unforgettable experience that will be of lasting value to them in their future careers.
* * * * *
In hard and trying circumstances, they were capable of developing on a very simple but powerful concept, finding the ways, resources and stamina to pursue the goal of offering young Law students an opportunity to learn more about Europe and European Law.
Today many more persons are actively contributing towards the maintenance and development of the Moot, building on for future generations, based on the strong set of principles set by these historical people.
Their ardent work is best recognised by the mere observation of today´s Moot Court, in all its organisational complexity and vitality.
For all this, the European Law Moot Court Society is thankful to these persons:
Christopher Vaagt – the very founder of the Society
Ole Due – previous president of the Court of Justice
Tom Kennedy – previous administrator at the Court of Justice
James Flynn – one of the first sponsors of the Society
Erik Pijnacker – one of the first sponsors of the Society
Peter Fergusson – previous president of the ELMC Society
Yvonne Schers – previous president of the ELMC Society
Dorte K. Frandsen – previous president of the ELMC Society
António Belo Santos – previous president of the ELMC Society