We were delighted to virtually host 64 mooters at our fourth virtual speed moot on 30 October. We were overwhelmed with the response, with over 400 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.
Su-Lynn Kok from The University of Law and Jesse Mattinson from City University made the final, with Su-Lynn winning the competition overall.
We were also joined by a further cohort of audience members that attended our Virtual Open Evening 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 Su-Lynn has kindly written a report on her experience of the evening.
Having attended several hearings and settlement meetings virtually over the Covid-19 pandemic, I was intrigued to see how Quadrant Chambers’ Virtual Speed Moot would be run. The reality did not disappoint. The digital platform Quadrant Chambers used to host the moot was innovative and user-friendly, and nobody (to my knowledge) was inexplicably turned into a cat.
On the evening of the moot, we ‘arrived’ in the virtual conference hall where we could move between different tables and introduce ourselves to the other participants. We were warmly welcomed by Poonam Melwani KC, Head of Chambers, and then directed to the digital courtrooms where our first rounds would take place. Many thanks to those who organised the competition – coordinating 64 mooters must have been no easy feat.
For context, the moot problem, provided to us three days before the competition, concerned a dispute over a variation to a charterparty agreement (‘the Variation’). We were asked to prepare submissions on behalf of both the Appellant and the Respondent addressing two grounds of appeal: firstly, had the Charterer received a practical benefit as a result of the Variation (meaning that the Variation was supported by consideration)? Secondly, in any event, should the Charterer be estopped from resiling from its agreement to the Variation?
In preparing our submissions, we were invited to consider the application of Williams v Roffey Bros & Nicholls (Contractors) Limited  1 QB 1 and Central London Property Trust Limited v High Trees House Limited  KB 130 to the facts before us. The fact that no additional research was necessary encouraged us to engage with the principles set out in the two cases on a deeper level. How should courts assess whether a practical benefit has been conferred – objectively, or taking the characteristics of the party receiving it into account? For the purposes of raising an estoppel argument, is there a principled distinction between a promise to accept a smaller sum (as was the case in High Trees) and a promise to pay more? Preventing the Charterer from going back on his promise to pay more might unfairly allow the Owner to use promissory estoppel as a sword, rather than a shield.
It was a privilege to compete against such impressive advocates at every turn. Although the moot was held virtually, there was a noticeable camaraderie between the mooters as we compared our thoughts on the problem in between rounds.
Members of Quadrant Chambers kindly gave up their time to judge us. Their incisive questions challenged me to think on my feet and consider the wider commercial context. I enjoyed fine-tuning my submissions after each round in response to their insightful feedback, and saw a marked improvement in my advocacy from my first performance to my last. My judges were encouraging and more than happy to answer questions about life at the commercial Bar. My positive experience no doubt reflects the supportive and friendly culture for which Quadrant is reputed.
It was such a pleasure to participate in this moot. I would highly recommend it to any students hoping to improve their advocacy and gain an invaluable insight into commercial practice.