History of the Willem C.Vis Moot

The Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot is a legal competition for law students worldwide on the subject of international commercial law and arbitration. The moot is named for Willem Cornelis Vis, a former Deputy Secretary-General of UNIDROIT and founding director of the Pace Institute of International Commercial Law. The first Moot was held in 1994 with eleven law schools from nine countries, and in 2011 had expanded to 254 teams from 63 countries.

The Moot is centered on a problem of international commercial law and the sale of goods, using the Sales Convention (United States Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, or CISG) and rules from a rotating roster of arbitration associations worldwide. The problem reflects real-world trends in legal scholarship and court decisions, and is written so that the Claimant and Respondent’s arguments have equal legal support.

Each team writes memoranda for Claimant and Respondent and submits them two and three months after the release of the problem in early October. In early spring, the teams convene in Vienna, Austria, for five days of oral advocacy competition as they present their arguments against each other and before panels of experienced arbitrators from around the world. Teams from civil law countries are pitted against teams from common law countries in the preliminary rounds. Teams with the highest scores continue to the round of sixty-four. Following the round of sixty-four are the semi-finals and quarter-finals, all single-elimination rounds. The final round takes place in a large convention center where all can watch, prior to a banquet dinner and the announcement of the award-winning memoranda.

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