The Oxford French Law Moot , sponsored by French law firm Gide Loyrette Nouel, was held in Oxford on 14th March 2011. In its fourth year, the competition has its largest turnout yet: sixteen teams from all over Europe competed in the prestigious competition which has been growing steadily since its inception in 2008. This is the first year competitors have come from outside the United Kingdom, and teams from Warwick, Birmingham, KCL, UCD, Madrid, Cambridge, UCL, Cologne, Florence and Oxford participated. M. Eric Descheemaeker, convenor of the moot, said he was delighted to have such extensive participation.

The Moot saw teams go head-to-head in front of judges on a problem that involved both French and European law. Counsel for the claimant, a well-known business man, argued that the defendant - a European newspaper - had violated their client's right to a private life, protected under Article 9 of the French Code Civil, by publishing information about his salary, his extensive properties and even his affair with a French actress! The defendants, in turn, argued that their client's Article 10 right to freedom of expression precluded any violation of Article 9 and that the public had an "intérêt légitime" to be aware of this information. All of the judges agreed that the level of legal analysis and depth of research carried out by the participants was of an extremely high standard.

Given the number of teams, the competition was organised as a “ruthless” knock-out style tournament. Starting with sixteen teams at 10am, half of the remaining teams were eliminated at each stage. Each team was made up of two participants, both of whom presented their arguments. The right of reply was used to great effect and counsel showed little mercy for their opponents' arguments. At all stages of the competition, the judges quizzed the students on the soundness of their submissions, to which elegant and elaborated responses were often given. 

At lunchtime, lawyers from Gide gave a short presentation and were happy to answer any questions. Everyone eagerly awaited the results during the two-hour lunch break to see which teams would make it to the semi-finals. As it turns out, the Oxford team went head-to-head with Florence 1 and KCL 2 competed with Cambridge for a place in the final. 

The final took place in St. Catherine's College between Oxford and King's College London, with Me Carole Malinvaud (Gide), M. Alain Lacabarats (President of the 3ème chambre civile of the Cour de Cassation) and Professeur François-Xavier Lucas (Université Paris I - Panthéon-Sorbonne) on the judging panel. The stakes were high. Both teams had already competed three times but fought off fatigue and exhaustion to plead their case once more. The tension was palpable, with both teams demonstrating a very high standard of advocacy, control of the French language and engagement with the topic. After a long period of deliberation, the judges declared Conor McLaughlin and Rosanna Thompson of Oxford the competition's winners.

Left to right: Professor Guillaume Leyte (Oxford), Mrs Carole Malinvaud (judge), Gary Smadja (KCL), Mr Alain Lacabarats (judge), Fanny Fumery (KCL), Professor François-Xavier Lucas (judge), Conor McLaughlin (Oxford), Juliette Roquette (Oxford), Rosanna Thomson (Oxford), Professor Stefan Vogenauer (IECL) and Dr Eva Steiner (KCL).

All three judges stressed that the decision was not easy, and that all of the teams had impressed them with the level of participation in the Moot. Professeur Lucas, who has judged the competition for the last three years, noted that the standard has been getting higher and higher and that it was easy to forget that the lawyers were not actually arguing in a real court!



Conor McLaughlin
Balliol College, Oxford
21 March 2011