Kickstarting this year’s domestic moot calendar was the much-anticipated Bashir Ahmad Mallal (or ‘B.A. Mallal’) Moot, organised by the NUS Law Mooting and Debating Club and kindly sponsored by Allen & Gledhill LLP. As one of the oldest and most prestigious domestic mooting competitions, this year’s iteration of the Moot had high participation rates from students in all three law schools in Singapore.
The Moot Problem
This year’s moot problem revolved around the constitutionality of section 377A of the Penal Code, a hot-button issue that has gained much traction locally in light of the highly recent judicial developments around the world. In the factual matrix, Oscar Whyle, the Accused, had been charged with an offence under section 377A of the Penal Code for committing an act of gross indecency with his partner of the same gender.
Justice Valerie Thean currently serves as a Judge in our local High Courts. She is a well-respected and prominent member of the legal fraternity who has had an illustrious career, having held various appointments within the public service in the Supreme Court, the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Ministry of Law. Justice Thean also taught Arbitration in our very own Faculty of Law.
Dr Stanley Lai, SC is an experienced practitioner. Not only is he the first Singapore-born lawyer to be conferred a PhD in Law from the University of Cambridge, Dr Lai is also the head of the Intellectual Property practice at Allen & Gledhill. Widely regarded as an industry leader in IP litigation and information technology disputes, he is the current Chairman of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore as well.
Professor Alan Tan is no stranger to most in NUS Law, having taught Criminal, Aviation and Shipping Law for many years. While Prof. Tan was an undergraduate in the Faculty, he won the Koh Han Kok Prize for International Law. Thereafter, he also served as a Justices’ Legal Clerk in the Supreme Court. Subsequently, Prof. Tan obtained his LLM and JSD from Yale Law School. Prof Tan is not only a well-respected academic who is widely published, but is also well-regarded as a personable and amiable tutor.
Before the court and in two rounds of debate, the four finalists sharply presented arguments for their cases reflective of long hours of preparation and practice. Each finalist was given 18 minutes to make their respective cases, inclusive of inquiries from the Bench and rebuttals.
For the Appellant, and representing the prosecution, Abigail Fernandez (NUS, Y2) first took the floor, firmly submitting that the acts committed by the Respondent, Oscar Whyle, satisfied the requisite element of “gross indecency” in section 377A of the Penal Code, and that section 377A of the Penal Code was not unconstitutional for being inconsistent with Article 12 of the Constitution. Abigail robustly argued her case on principles and supplemented her arguments with pinpoint case authorities, impressing the judges and audience alike.
In response, Benedict Tedjopranoto (NUS, Y3) steadily proffered his arguments for the Respondent, submitting that in deciding whether section 377A of the Penal Code was constitutional, the courts ought to take cue from the contemporary, right-thinking member of society. Not to be easily rattled, he adeptly reordered his arguments when kindly requested to do so by the judges, reflecting the supple preparation and his ability to think well on his feet. Further, despite being rigorously prodded by the Bench, he remained composed and responded to most queries with much ease.
After the intense battle of wits between the first pair of mooters, the audience barely had time to catch its breath before it was floored by another round of lively legal debate from the next pair.
For the Appellant, Ong Kye Jing (NUS, Y2) eloquently began his submissions, and remained unfazed despite some initial technical difficulties. He brought the judges through his submissions in a measured manner, emphasizing the nuances and deliberations of his case. On several occasions, he even managed to bring smiles to the bench and the audience alike!
Last but certainly not least, Ng Wei Qi (NUS, Y2) voraciously and firmly defended her client, the Respondent. Like those who had come before her, she too deftly ameliorated the queries from the Bench and astutely impressed the judges with the thoroughness of her preparation and a novel argument.
After two grueling and highly-stimulating rounds of the moot, the judges reserved their judgment to determine which of the mooters persuaded the court best. In delivering the overall feedback for the evening, the judges highly commended the quality of debate, advocacy and mooting styles presented before the Court.
Champion: Ong Kye Jing
First Runner-Up: Abigail Fernandez
Second Runners-Up: Ng Wei Qi and Benedict Tedjopranoto
Best Memorial Prize: Wang Qiyu (NUS, Y2)
Congratulations to all the winners!
Photography by Bryan Ong (MDC, Y1), and Yulin (Justified, Y1).