A moot court is an extracurricular activity at many law schools in which participants take part in simulated court proceedings, usually to include drafting briefs (or memorials) and participating in oral argument. The term derives from Anglo Saxon times, when a moot (gmot or emot) was a gathering of prominent men in a locality to discuss matters of local importance. The modern activity differs from a “mock trial“, as moot court usually refers to a simulated appellate court or arbitral case, while a “mock trial” usually refers to a simulated jury trial or bench trial. Moot court does not involve actual testimony by witnesses or the presentation of evidence, but is focused solely on the application of the law to a common set of evidentiary assumptions to which the competitors must be introduced. In the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries, the phrase “a moot court” may be shortened to simply “a moot” and the activity may be called “mooting“.
Moot court is one of the most prestigious extracurricular activities in many law schools. Students typically spend a semester researching and writing the memorials, as well as practising their oral arguments. Whereas domestic moot court competitions tend to focus on municipal law, regional and international moot competitions tend to focus on subjects such as public international law, international human rights law, and international humanitarian law.
 International moot competitions
 List of notable international moot competitions
|Competition||Established||Subject matter||Annual participation||Location of finals||National or regional rounds||Most wins|
|Jessup||1960||Public international law||500–600 teams||Washington D.C.||Yes||National University of Singapore (4)
University of Texas (4)
|Vis||1993||International commercial arbitration||200–250 teams||Vienna||No||Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg (2)
University of Queensland (2)
|Vis East||2003||International commercial arbitration||70–80 teams||Hong Kong||No||Loyola Law School (2)|
|Space||Space law||50–60 teams||Varies||Yes|
|D. M. Harish||2000||Public international law||25–30 teams||Mumbai, India||No|
|Red Cross (Asia-Pacific)||2002||International humanitarian law||20–25 teams||Hong Kong||Yes|
|Asia Cup||1999||Public international law||15–25 teams||Tokyo||Yes||University of the Philippines (4)|
|AHRM||1992||Human rights in Africa||Varies||No|
|Maritime||2000||International maritime law||15–20 teams||No|
|IP||Intellectual property law||Oxford||No|
|Price||International media law||20–25 teams||Oxford||No|
|Jean-Pictet||1989||International humanitarian law||50–60 teams||No|
|ELSA||2002||World Trade Organisation||Yes|
|WHRMC||2009||International human rights law||Pretoria||No|
 List of champions of international moot competitions
|Year||Jessup||Vis||Vis East||Space||D.M.H||IHL Asia-Pacific||Asia Cup||AHRM||Maritime||IP||Price||Jean Pictet|
|2010||Australian National University||King’s College London||Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg||National Law University, Delhi||University of Hong Kong||Singapore Management University||National University of Singapore||Boston University||Singapore Management University|
|2009||Universidad de los Andes||Victoria University of Wellington||Loyola Law School||National Law School of India University||Nalsar University of Law||Universitas Indonesia||University of the Philippines||University of Ghana
Université de Dschang
Universidade Eduardo Mondlane
|University of Queensland||Queensland University of Technology||Université de Caen|
|2008||Case Western Reserve University||Carlos III University of Madrid||Griffith University||University of New South Wales||Washington University School of Law||National University of Singapore||Ateneo de Manila University||University of Queensland||National University of Singapore||Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais|
|2007||University of Sydney||Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg||Pepperdine University School of Law||George Washington University||University of Cambridge||University of Sydney||University of the Philippines||Universitas Indonesia||Queensland University of Technology||University of New South Wales|
|2006||Columbia University||Loyola Law School||University of Auckland||National Law School of India University||University of Queensland||Universitas Indonesia||Queensland University of Technology||National University of Singapore||Université Libre de Bruxelles|
|2005||University of Queensland||Stetson University||West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences||National Law School of India University||National University of Singapore||London School of Economics|
|2004||Ateneo de Manila University||Osgoode Hall Law School||Tsinghua University||University of Leiden||National University of Singapore||National University of Singapore||University of Cambridge|
|2003||West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences||University of Auckland||University of the Philippines||University of New South Wales|
|2002||National University of Singapore||Georgetown University||Ateneo de Manila University|
|2001||National University of Singapore||National University of Singapore||National University of Singapore||National University of Singapore|
|2000||National University of Singapore|
|1997||University of Auvergne|
|1995||Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg|
|1994||National University of Singapore||Columbia University|
|1993||University of Witwatersrand|
|1992||University of Pretoria||Barreau de Montréal|
|1991||Barreau de Montréal|
|1989||Université Libre de Bruxelles|
|1985||National University of Singapore|
|1983||University of Kansas|
|1982||National University of Singapore|
|1978||Brooklyn Law School|
|1977||University of Kansas|
|1976||University of Toronto|
|1974||University of Texas|
|1973||West Virginia University|
|1972||University of Miami|
|1971||University of Texas|
|1970||University of Miami|
University of Michigan
|1966||University of Texas|
|1964||University of Texas|
 Mooting in different countries
 Notable domestic moot competitions
- Ames Moot Court Competition at Harvard Law School
- English Speaking Union Moot
- Harold G. Fox Moot
- Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Moot Court Competition
- London Universities Mooting Shield
- New York City Bar Association National Moot Court Competition
- Conrad B. Duberstein Moot Court Competition
Law schools structure their moot court programs differently. Some moot court organizations accept a small group of people for membership, and those members each participate in a number of national or regional moot court competitions. Other schools accept a larger number of members, and each member is matched with one competition. A few schools conduct moot court entirely intramurally. Moot court competitions are typically sponsored by organizations with interest in one particular area of law, and the moot court problems address an issue in that field. Competitions are often judged by legal practitioners with expertise in the particular area of law, or sometimes by sitting judges.
The basic structure of a moot court competition roughly parallels what would happen in actual appellate practice. Participants will typically receive a problem ahead of time, which includes the facts of the underlying case, and often an opinion from a lower court that is being challenged in the problem. Students must then research and prepare for that case as if they were lawyers or advocates for one or sometimes both of the parties. Depending on the competition, participants will be required to submit written briefs, participate in oral argument, or both. The case or problem is often one of current interest, sometimes mimicking an actual case, and sometimes fabricated to address difficult legal issues.
A number of moot court competitions focus on specific areas of law. For example, the First Amendment Center annually holds a National First Amendment Moot Court Competition, in which the judges have included numerous United States Circuit Court Judges.
 The American Collegiate Moot Court Association
Every year undergraduates across the world participate in moot courts (simulating argument before the Supreme Court). In the United States, undergraduates experience moot court in a variety of disciplines and a variety of settings. The most common are in-class exercises that are assigned by professors. Other schools actually form competitive teams. These teams often compete in intramural events, some in statewide competitions, or they can enter tournaments sponsored by the American Collegiate Moot Court Association – the only national organization dedicated to intercollegiate moot court. The ACMA was founded by Dr. Charles Knerr, a political science professor at the University of Texas, Arlington, and by Texas attorney Andrew Sommerman. Since 2001, ACMA has hosted the Championship Tournament to crown the national champion of intercollegiate moot court. The first several national championship tournaments were hosted successfully by the Honors College at UT-Arlington. The event was open to all comers, and even its first tournament drew teams from across the country even though the field was just over 20 teams. In the next several years, the event continued to grow, typically to between 70-80 teams, and attracted schools from across the United States.
In 2006, ACMA made two decisions that appear to have served as a catalyst to increase substantially the growth of intercollegiate moot court. First, the Executive Committee agreed to move the Championship Tournament to different sites across the country. Since 2007, the event has been hosted by the law schools at Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA), Drake University (Des Moines, IA), Chapman University (Orange, CA), and Florida International University (Miami, FL). The 2010-2011 Championship Tournament is to be hosted by the law school at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA.
Second, the Executive Committee opted to sponsor a series of national qualifying tournaments in venues across the nation. The process of requiring teams to qualify for the championship tournament certainly seems to have spurred interest in moot court nation-wide. Not only has the organization grown in size, it now truly hosts a national field.
While undergraduate moot court is still a relatively new forensics activity, when compared with speech and debate and intercollegiate mock trial, by the 2009-2010 season, there were 248 teams who competed at the regional tournaments hosted by California State University, Long Beach, Fitchburg State University (MA), Hamline University (MN), Regent School of Law (VA), Texas Tech School of Law, the University of Tampa (FL), the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law, and The College of Wooster (OH). The regional tournaments vary by size, but there is a standardized process for awarding bids to nationals. Currently, teams that finish in the top 25 percent of each regional earn an automatic bid to the national tournament. The remainder of the 64 team field is awarded to at-large teams with the best records at the qualifying events. No school can earn more than eight bids to the national field. ACMA tournaments currently have three preliminary rounds and a series of elimination rounds are very much like the “sudden death”/”one-and-done” nature of the NCAA basketball tournament. The qualifying tournaments are held during the fall semester, most are in November, and the championship tournament is in mid-January. ACMA is governed by an Executive Committee of educators and attorneys from member schools. It has an elected President who is empowered to implement decisions made by the Executive Committee between called business meetings.
There are other organizations that sponsor intercollegiate moot court tournaments, and will, for instance, host statewide championships, e.g., the Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Association (TUMCA). Smaller invitational tournaments exist which enable teams to gain additional experience in moot court. In California, for instance, students compete in the spring in the California Classic. This event has been held at Mt. St. Mary’s College and Fresno State University. There is also fall scrimmage in Texas that has drawn a number of teams from around the nation. Additionally, in 2008, there was a four-school event in the District of Columbia at the Prettyman Judicial Complex. These invitational tournaments are not ACMA-sanctioned events.
 The Case
Undergraduate moot court cases pose two certified questions. The case (known as the “record”) includes an appellate majority opinion and a dissent. The “library” is a closed one. Typically, the record includes twenty opinions that students can rely upon for their arguments. Rules allow them to refer to cases cited in the cases directly included in the record. However, they can only rely on these cases within cases to the degree that they were used by the authorities directly in the record. All teams competing in ACMA-sponsored events will argue the same case. ACMA students have engaged in oral argument on issues such as same-sex marriage, national health care, privacy under the 4th Amendment, life terms for minors who are not guilty of murder or attempted murder, freedom of religion, a federal ban on firearms on school grounds, and warrantless domestic wiretapping of suspected terrorists. Cases are written by the ACMA. The case problem is released on the ACMA website by May 1 of each year.
 The Teams
Undergraduate moot court teams consist of two oral advocates. The advocates are responsible for knowing both issues – but typically are only asked about one certified question. Each team will receive 20 minutes to argue its case, and each advocate must speak for a minimum of seven minutes. Teams are judged on their forensics, knowledge of the law, demeanor, and ability to answer questions from the bench.
 The Judges
Good judges are the key to a good moot court hearing. Judges are typically lawyers or members of the state or federal bench. At times, law students (especially those with past undergraduate moot court experience) are asked to judge. Past judges at ACMA events have included former US Attorney General John Ashcroft, former White House Counsel, D. Edward Wilson, former legal counsel for the US Department of the Treasury D.J. Gribin, Assistant Attorney General for the State of Maryland Amanda Stakum Conn, Supreme Court reporter for the LA Times David Savage, California Courts of Appeals Justices Paul Turner and Raymond Ikola, a great number of federal judges, including The Honorable Otis Wright, George Schiavelli, and Gerald Lewis, numerous state trial judges, and several law school deans.
 Past Oral Advocacy National Champions
From 2001-2010, ACMA has hosted 10 Championship Tournaments. In that time, seven different schools have been crowned as national champions. Patrick Henry College, of Purcellville, Virginia, is the only institution to have won multiple intercollegiate moot court championships.
|2001||Hardin Simmons College (Marta DeLeon and Sarah Horn)||Fitchburg State College|
|2002||Howard Payne University (Rob Welker and Lorianna Anderson)||University of North Texas|
|2003||California State University – Long Beach (Thomas Hartnett and Ja’Nene Hall)||Patrick Henry College|
|2004||University of Texas at Arlington (Andrew Stublefield and Mark Melton)||College of the Holy Cross|
|2005||Patrick Henry College (Peter Kamakawiwoole and Sara Wilson)||College of the Holy Cross|
|2006||Patrick Henry College (Brian Wright and Rachel Williams)||Patrick Henry College|
|2007||Armstrong Atlantic State University (Adam Morrison and Brian Dotson)||The College of Wooster|
|2008||The College of Wooster (Katharine McCarthy and Drew Glassroth)||Patrick Henry College|
|2009||Patrick Henry College (Rachel Heflin and Aidan Grano)||Patrick Henry College|
|2010||Patrick Henry College (Rachel Heflin and Jenna Lorence)||Baylor University|
 Written advocacy
The ACMA also sponsors a brief writing contest. Students are not required to prepare briefs in order to compete for the oral advocacy national title. Teams who enter follow a specific set of rules and compete for prizes. The competition is judged by lawyers and law professors. This competition is named for the late Sandra Knerr, who along with her husband, was a dedicated supporter of intercollegiate moot court.
 United Kingdom
The courts systems differ in various parts of the United Kingdom. Thus, the style of a moot will often vary depending in which jurisdiction it is to be heard, although some national competitions do exist. The principal differences are between the laws in Scotland and those in England and Wales. Each jurisdiction is dealt with separately below.
 England and Wales
Moot questions generally involve two questions of law that are under dispute and come with a set of facts about the case that have been decided at the first instance trial. Generally the question will surround a subject that is unclear under the present state of the law and for which no direct precedent exists. Mooting is a team effort, consisting of senior or lead counsel and junior counsel. It is normal practice for the senior counsel will take on the first point and the junior the second; although this may vary depending upon the exact nature, and necessary length, of the arguments. Typically the question will focus on one area of law, e.g. tort, contract, criminal law or the law of property.
The question will be provided to the teams a few weeks in advance of the moot along with details as to which of the appellant or respondent they are to represent. It is then up to each team to prepare their case as though they were barristers. Authority for each argument is necessary and will usually take the form of precedent from case law but may also involve legislation. Reliance may also be placed on governmental papers, research from NGOs and academic journals and texts.
A few days before the moot takes place each team will prepare and exchange their skeleton arguments or brief. Copies will also be provided to the judge along with the moot problem. The judge is normally an academic or practising solicitor or barrister.
The moot itself takes the form of an oral argument. The order in which the advocates will speak mirrors that of the actual courts the exercise is based upon. In England and Wales the order would be as follows:
- senior counsel for the appellant
- senior counsel for the respondent
- junior counsel for the appellant
- junior counsel for the respondent
The competition may also allow the appellants an additional few minutes in order to reply to the respondents arguments.
After the presentation of arguments has concluded, the judge will retire to deliberate on both the law and the overall winning of the moot. A moot is not won and lost on the legal argument, but on the advocacy skills of the participants. It is often the case that the team that has the weaker legal argument is in a better position as they have to argue that much more persuasively.
In Scotland a moot can be set in a variety of fora; in civil law problems it is set most commonly in either the Inner House of the Court of Session or in the House of Lords, however it is not uncommon for a moot to be heard in the Sheriff Court before the Sheriff or Sheriff Principal. Occasionally, an Employment Appeal Tribunal may also be used as a forum for a Scottish civil law moot.
If the moot problem is in the field of Criminal Law, the moot will most likely be heard in the Appellate division of the High Court of Justiciary (commonly known as the Court of Criminal Appeal).
The moot points and style of the problem are similar as to that of England and Wales stated above. However the format of the moot is significantly different. Junior counsel is more likely to take the first moot point with the senior counsel taking the second point (this can however be reversed depending on the problem).
The order in which the Advocates will speak mirrors that of the actual courts the exercise is based upon. In Scotland the order would be as follows:
- junior counsel for the appellant
- junior counsel for the respondent
- senior counsel for the appellant
- senior counsel for the respondent
Please note the terms ‘appellant’ and ‘respondent’ are used loosely, and depending on the forum, may not be the correct terms e.g. In an appeal to the Inner House of the Court of Session (known as a ‘reclaiming motion’, the appellants are known as ‘reclaimers’). Generally, Scottish competitions do not allow the appellants a final right of rebuttal to reply to the respondents’ arguments.
The format of the moot is far more adversarial than that of English and Welsh moots. This is primarily due to a more adversarial legal system. This manifests itself in different ways, most notably with the appellants and respondents facing each other during a moot, rather than as in England and Wales, facing the judge.
There is only one national Scottish competition, the Alexander Stone National Legal Debate, administered by the Law School at the University of Glasgow. All Scottish universities that offer the LL.B. are eligible to take part, although in recent years the competition has been fought out mainly between Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Strathclyde universities. The final is held in the Alexander Stone Court Room at the University of Glasgow in February or March each year. The current holder of the trophy is the Strathclyde, .
There is also an annual inter-varsity competition between the Law Schools of Glasgow and Strathclyde, in the form of the Glasgow Sheriff’s Cup. This is organised by Glasgow Sheriff Court and is judged by a Senator of the College of Justice. The moot is held annually in May or June each year and takes place in one of the larger court rooms at Glasgow and Strathkelvin Sheriff Court. The current holder of the trophy is the Strathclyde, whilst Glasgow University lead the series 10-9.
Law Schools in Scotland also take part in UK-wide competitions, such as the Oxford University Press and the English Speaking Union Moot. These moots are UK-wide in participation, but typically follow the style and law of moots in England and Wales. The University of Glasgow reached the semi-final of the English Speaking Union moot in 2008 and the final in 2005. The University of Dundee reached the semi finals of The Oxford University Press moots in 2009.