We were delighted to virtually host 64 mooters at our second virtual speed moot on 18 January. We were overwhelmed with the response, with over 500 applying for a place, a sure sign that students are keen for the opportunities that Chambers can provide. Students logged in to the event from all over the country.
Micha Lazarus from City Law School and Benn Sheridan from Inns of Court College of Advocacy made the final, with Micha winning the competition overall.
We were also joined by a further cohort of audience members to watch talks from barristers and pupils on pupillage, life at the commercial bar and Quadrant Chambers, and to speak to pupils and barristers and ask any questions.
Our winner Micha has kindly written a report on his experience of the evening.
So many moots had been cancelled over 2020 due to the pandemic that I first got a chance to moot in September, when I started the Bar course. Most moots seemed to take place in teams and unfolded over several months. But the Quadrant speed moot took place over a single, frenetic evening, and competitors took part individually, with nowhere to hide!
The problem was released four days before the moot on 18 January, so we all had a long weekend to prepare. The problem had to do with best endeavours clauses: a slippery contractual term whereby a party undertakes to use their ‘best endeavours’ or ‘reasonable endeavours’ to secure a particular outcome. Did these clauses give rise to an obligation certain enough to be binding? By what measure should a court determine if a party’s endeavours were reasonable (let alone ‘best’)? What were the limits of the obligation a best endeavours clause created—would the duty to exercise best endeavours oblige a party to act even against his own commercial interests?
The brevity of the facts we received belied the complexity of the legal issues at stake. Attached to the problem was the only authority we were allowed to cite, Jet2.com Limited v Blackpool Airport Limited  EWCA Civ 417, a Court of Appeal decision which was the leading case on best endeavours clauses. If that decision was followed, the law favoured the Respondent. But we were to appeal to the Supreme Court, which had the jurisdiction to overrule Jet2.com if they were persuaded by the Applicant. The construction of best endeavours clauses was a pressing issue during the pandemic, as pharmaceutical companies with huge government contracts to supply vaccines across the UK and Europe were hit with supply chain issues. We would be arguing principles that went to the heart of contract law and were making the news at the same time.
Quadrant’s online event software was appealing and intuitive—not just the usual grid of floating heads, but a visual representation of a conference space with tables and seats where we could ‘sit’ in order to compete or to chat with other mooters between rounds. The moot itself was structured like a tennis tournament, with 64 mooters drawn from over 500 applicants competing in three initial knock-out rounds followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals, and a public final which took place in the main ‘auditorium’. We had been instructed to prepare arguments on both sides; part of the excitement was not knowing who you would be arguing for in any given round.
I represented the Appellant on five out of six occasions, and honestly thought every round was surely to be my last. The Appellant could only win by convincing the court to overturn the leading precedent, and arguing against the Court of Appeal is an uphill struggle. But the judges were friendly, fair, and incisive, asking questions that challenged both sides to step outside the bounds of settled law and consider the principle beneath. The quick turnaround meant that every round was better rehearsed, arguments more refined, details filled in that had been missing from our initial talking notes.
The evening was hugely enjoyable, a superb opportunity to get to know Chambers and its welcoming, relaxed atmosphere. There was real camaraderie between the mooters, all of whom were warm, supportive, and collegial. I was so impressed with the quality of my opponents; the judges clearly had a hard time from the very start of the competition adjudicating rounds that came down to the wire. It was a privilege and a pleasure to participate, which I recommend enthusiastically to any students interested in a career at Quadrant or at the commercial bar.
Micha Lazarus, City Law School