From 10 to 14 March 2020, the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution (BCDR) co-hosted an online adaptation of the much-anticipated 10th Vis International Commercial Arbitration Middle East Pre-Moot competition, which seeks to bolster the inclusion and competitiveness of MENA teams in the annual Willem C. Vis Vienna and Hong Kong Moots.
Unprecedented in the Middle East and globally, the online competition was a resounding success. Students from 28 teams and 17 countries, and more than 150 advisors, faculty, and practitioners seamlessly connected from across the globe to take part.
The competition had been scheduled to take place in person in Bahrain as part of a full week of events organized by BCDR with the support of various institutional, academic, and professional partners. However, following the COVID-19 outbreak and the adoption of precautionary measures by the Kingdom of Bahrain, all activities scheduled for that week had to be postponed.
BCDR and its partners at the Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) of the US Department of Commerce, and the Center for International Legal Education (CILE) of the University of Pittsburgh were nonetheless determined that teams who had worked so hard in preparation for the Moot should still benefit from the full Pre-Moot program. So, the co-organizers enthusiastically took on the many challenges of converting the in-person Moot to an online event.
The online competition was put together in record time; just 15 days. There was a series of live online sessions and recorded lectures with global Vis Moot household names such as Professors Ingeborg Schwenzer, Stefan Kröll, Ronald A. Brand, and Harry Flechtner. There were also interactive virtual breakout sessions with Vis advisors to cover key aspects of successful oral presentation, and virtual hearing rooms for teams to practice their oral arguments.
The week-long online program also featured two days of competitive rounds; general rounds on the first day; elimination rounds on the second. The final round was arbitrated by a top-tier panel chaired by Professor Ingeborg Schwenzer, with LCIA's former Director-General Adrian Winstanley OBE, and Vis Moot director Professor Stefan Kröll on the wings.
The smooth running of the competition was made possible by the utilization of customized virtual tools for automatic scoring and electronic grade submissions, developed by BCDR's Senior Case Manager, Salim Sleiman, and Senior ICT Specialist, Hussain Ebrahim. The value of these tools in improving online mooting did not go unnoticed by the organizers of the official Vienna Vis Moot, who will be adopting them when converting this year's global Moot to a virtual platform.
As the high number of participants evidences, the Middle East Vis Pre-Moot has become an unmissable seedbed for budding dispute resolution leaders in the region. It is a unique formative experience that increases awareness of international commercial arbitration, raises standards of advocacy, and, more widely, consolidates the study and practice of international commercial law and arbitration in the Middle East. It has, since its inception, graduated more than 650 students, and benefited from the support of more than 400 practitioners.
BCDR will continue to support this program, in both normal and challenging times, to help students gain academic and practical knowledge of arbitration while building and sustaining a much-needed network for their careers.
For more information about the Middle East Pre-Moot program, click here.