The Finals of the International Commercial Arbitration Moot (ICAM) was held on 3rd March 2020. Organised by one of Singapore’s leading law firms, WongPartnership, it is Singapore’s only arbitration moot and focuses on international commercial arbitration, governed by the rules of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC).

In its 12th consecutive year, the moot has garnered much interest, with a total of 72 submissions. Ultimately, this was narrowed down to the final 4, Low Sheng Wei Ernest, Low Hui Xuan Carissa, Nicole Seah Kar Hsin and Ong Ming En, Darryl.

Presiding over the moot as judges were the Honourable Justice Kannan Ramesh, the Honourable Justice Anselmo Reyes and Ms Loretta Malintoppi. Given the star-studded field of judges in the area of international arbitration, it is no wonder that Mr Alvin Yeo, SC, quipped in his opening address that his credentials paled in comparison to the judges.

In light of the recent spread of the COVID-19 virus, the number of audience had to be reduced. However, this did not dampen the atmosphere. Mr Alvin Yeo, SC, expressed his gratitude to those who were eager to show up for the event despite the risk.

 

Moot Problem:

This year’s moot problem involved the breach of a Sales and Purchase Agreement between two companies. The issues raised were whether the respondent was entitled to avail itself of a force majeure clause and whether the respondent is entitled to use the security deposit to cover its costs pursuant to a clause in the agreement.

Kickstarting the moot was Nicole Seah for the claimant, delivering strong arguments to demonstrate that the respondent had not been earnest and had failed to take reasonable steps to avoid the consequence of the breach, contrary to the force majeure clause. Her unwavering determination was nothing short of impressive as she dealt with a series of difficult questions confidently. Perhaps one question that every law student (especially first years) could relate to was asked by the Honourable Justice Anselmo Reyes: “Is the time of delivery a condition, warranty or an innominate term? In other words, is time of the essence?”

Next, Darryl Ong for the respondent brought an equally compelling argument as to why reasonable steps were taken by the respondent. Throughout his submission, he exuded confidence by delivering his arguments in a calm and collected manner. Despite the challenging questions posed, he showed no signs of weakness and brilliantly displayed his competence in the area of contract law.

Dealing with the second issue, Carissa Low for the claimant delivered cogent arguments backed by leading Singapore cases in the area of contractual interpretation (many of which brought back fond memories of semester 1 of contract law), masterfully using the holding and facts of those cases to her advantage.

The last speaker for the moot was Ernest Low for the respondent. Similar to the other speakers, Ernest had to deal with a volley of complex questions but his calm demeanour shone through as he demonstrated a clear understanding of the law as well as the facts of the current case.

The final results are as follows:

Champion: Ernest Low

First Runner up: Darryl Ong 

Second Runner up: Carissa Low

Second Runner up: Nicole Seah

Congratulations to the finalists and the winners of the respective awards! All of the speakers delivered an outstanding performance. This was even acknowledged by the Honourable Justice Kannan Ramesh who expressed his amazement at the standards of all four speakers, especially given that they were only 2nd Year law students. All in all, it was a great and insightful experience and definitely worth my time. Kudos to the MDC team for all their hard work in organising the event!

[Photos by Cheyenne Lim from MDC]