The International Commercial Arbitration Moot Competition (ICAM for short and so I don’t have to keep typing) is one of the youngest local moots available and is also organized by the youngest of the “Big Four” firms in Singapore, Wong Partnership. This year was the 10-year anniversary of the ICAM (it’s a P4 student!) and befitting such an event, the tribunal was stacked with some of the most illustrious names in the local and international legal scene.
Heading the Tribunal was Justice of Appeal Judith Prakash, who has a thing for being first: she graduated first in her class from NUS Law, she is the first female justice of appeal and was also the first “arbitration specialist” appointed.
Representing the competition sponsors was Wong Partnership Managing Partner Alvin Yeo, SC (the youngest SC ever appointed I might add) and one of the counsels in the case of Ting Siew May (freshies you can stop shivering now… Ochroid is longer).
Finally, adding the “I” in ICAM was Christopher Thomas QC, an internationally renowned expert in arbitration and commercial dispute resolution. He is famous for being involved in settling the first state to state dispute under the Canadian-United States trade agreement.
The Claimant is an elderly, simple man who has invested with the Respondent, an Investment company. Long story short, the investment went south and the Claimant is now trying to reclaim his money by suing for (1) misrepresentation and (2) breach of contract. However, in defence, the Respondents have alleged (1) contractual estoppel and (2) illegality.
Claimant Issue 1 — Joel Sherard
MDC President, Asia Cup and AG Cup champion Joel Sherard was taking his second crack at the ICAM, after exiting during last year’s semi-final round. Having grown as a mooter since then, Joel was excited to show what he had learnt. He began with unquestionable grace, sophistication and gravitas (albeit with his questionable choice of eyewear).
Justice Prakash continued her penchant for being first, asking the first questions in an attempt to estopp Joel. With a smile and a nod, Joel disposed of the question and continued, only to be confronted with the imposing duo of Alvin Yeo SC and Christopher Thomas GC whose questions worked off each other, not giving Joel a chance to breathe. Any ordinary man would be stumped, any ordinary advocate would be too. But Joel is no ordinary advocate and showed why his face appears on the NUS Instagram story, recovering quickly and finishing with the same poise and grace he started with.
Respondent Issue 1 — Goh Qiqing
Style-wise, Goh QiQing couldn’t be more different. Whilst Joel was the epitome of an old English Barrister, Ms Goh presented a more conversational style injected with her trademark humour; much to the delight of the bench, even managing to make the whole bench smile at one point.
Despite some difficult arguments regarding the moral culpability of her parties, Ms Goh used her charisma and winning personality to win the judges over. She was even able to sneak in some compliments to the claimants, only serving to endear herself to the judges even more. This was to the extent that Christopher Thomas QC stopped her from closing her submissions so he could hear more from the bubbly Ms Goh.
Mr Thomas, we approve.
Claimant Issue 2 — Lucas Lim
Calm, and very very very cool (as Alvin Yeo SC remarked), Lucas Lim has a reputation for being unflappable. Of course, his reputation preceded him, and Justice Prakash decided to test this, questioning him on the difficult facts of the case, even finding a genius way to introduce the area of trusts and equity into the moot (*at this point the writer looked menacingly at his trusts textbook and questioned existence*).
However, Mr Lim organized his thoughts and redirected the tribunal back to the contractual issues at hand. Everything was going well until the tribunal brought up the facts again, this time focusing on the investment scheme and the prices of shares. Despite the difficulty of this area (“Nobody knows if a share is going up, down, sideways or in censored circles” The Wolf of Wall Street); Mr Lim used some heady and timely arguments to end his submissions strong.
Respondent Issue 2 — Lydia Lee
For those of you who don’t know Lydia, she’s a cheerleader, so the bright lights don’t even faze her. This confidence was certainly on display as she calmly answered the litany of difficult questions from all three judges. The painful questioning that Mr Lim endured continued for Lydia, and the ugly head of trust law reared again.
Despite the conceptual and factual uncertainty that surrounded, Lydia cut through it all and ended up winning the judges over with her fighting spirit and charm. After building rapport, she was able to move on to the difficult area of unjust enrichment and stultification, giving her a chance to show off her knowledge of the law that compliments her impeccable style.
The tribunal expressed their joy at seeing such skilled advocates discussing a very difficult problem. They even admitted to being a little tougher than normal in their attempts to test the brilliance before them, a testament to the hard work and dedication of all participants.
After comments and deliberation, the tribunal gave its decision:
Second Runner(s) Up: Goh Qiqing and Lucas Lim
Runner-Up: Joel Sherard. (Apologies, we seem to be missing the photo of you specifically…)
Winner: Lydia Lee
Congratulations to the participants!
Photos were taken by Dikaios Pang.