NUS Law students win regional championship of international environmental law moot

A team of NUS Law undergraduates comprising Li Minghan, Han Ying Jie and Kelly Cheung beat 25 other teams to emerge as champions in the Southeast Asian regional rounds of the 28th Stetson Annual International Environmental Moot Court Competition that was held at the University of the Philippines College of Law from 1 to 3 February 2024.

NUS Law students (from left to right) Li Minghan, Han Ying Jie and Kelly Cheung will be representing the University at the international oral rounds of the Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition that will take place in the US in April.

Founded in 1996 and organised by the Institute of Biodiversity Law and Policy of Stetson University in the US state of Florida, the Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition is the world’s largest moot court competition devoted exclusively to global environmental law issues.

This year’s moot problem saw competing teams tackling the environmental impacts of oil exploration, pipeline construction, and oil extraction activities on mountain gorillas.

The NUS Law team went through a gruelling competition to emerge finalists in the last round where they fought and eventually won in a close match against the Singapore Management University. Both third-year students Minghan and Kelly were also individually recognised as Best Oralist in the final round and third best oralist in the preliminary rounds respectively.

This latest showing continues the strong mooting tradition of NUS Law, which has also fostered a culture of giving back and camaraderie within the NUS Law community as generations of student mooters return to coach, advise and guide their juniors, usually alongside a team of senior law faculty members.

For this competition, the team received valuable mooting advice and guidance from a robust team of experienced law seniors and faculty members led by Associate Professor Burton Ong.

Minghan observed how the rigour of the training offered by his coaches and seniors helped his team stand out in the competition as the coaches and seniors drilled the trio on substantive law and stylistic elements and sharpened their arguments. “Our seniors and coaches also brought perspectives from real life and legal practice, which both helped to anchor our arguments and approach, as well as place the law into perspective in the wider landscape of international environmental solution-making.”

NUS Law final-year student Ying Jie, who had no mooting experience prior to the competition, added, “The journey thus far has been fulfilling and relatively smooth…I now hold a slight bittersweet regret for being exposed to mooting so late, and would even go as far as to say that a few months of the mooting process has given me more insight into certain legal processes than being in a classroom can.”

The team will be competing in the international oral rounds of the Stetson Moot that will be held in Florida from 10 to 13 April this year. Kelly shared, “We are very excited for the upcoming international rounds. Personally, it will be my first visit to the US and I am looking forward to meeting fellow law students from around the globe.”

“I am also eager to gain new insights into both mooting and international law, and grateful for the many upcoming practice sessions with seniors and professors who have volunteered their time and expertise to help us prepare,” she added.

Said Assoc Prof Burton Ong, “Moving up from the regional rounds to the international rounds will give the team a chance to develop their advocacy skills at a higher level, where they will have the opportunity to demonstrate their analytical and communication skills to a wider audience of experts in the field of international environmental law. I have no doubt that the team will do its best to make Team NUS proud on the other side of the globe!”