When the panel of five judges from Liège, Naples, Trier, Athens and Vienna awarded the Oxford and Cambridge teams equal ranking points in the Grand Final of the Fourth International Roman Law Moot Court Competition, held in the ancient Roman forum of Philippi, the tie had to be resolved by resort to individual speaker scores, and Oxford was awarded second place by a mere 2 marks out of 200.

This superb result followed the team’s comprehensive victory over last year’s winners, Athens, in their semi-final, after Michael Harper (Somerville), Mateusz Krauze (HMC), Eva Leung (HMC) and Anish Patel (Somerville) ensured Oxford placed first in its group in the four preliminary rounds. In addition, Mateusz Krauze was awarded the Clifford Chance LLP Best Oralist Award, and Michael Harper the prize for the second best oralist, for their exceptional performances in moots throughout the competition.

Set in Constantinople in AD 546 during the reign of Emperor Justinian I, the problem for the 2011 competition required teams to argue for, and defend against, an unjust enrichment-style claim for recovery of jewellery handed over and travel expenses incurred in the course of failed pre-contractual negotiations, as well as a negligence-style claim arising out of the death of a slave inadvertently poisoned when he consumed the deadly amanita phalloides mushroom in an ostensibly luxurious meal prepared during the negotiations.

The International Roman Law Moot is organised and co-sponsored by the Institute Mohamed Ali for the Research of Eastern Tradition, with support from Clifford Chance LLP, Potamitis & Vekris, Zepos & Yannopoulos, Karatza & Partners and Koimtzidis-Paparallis-Kogkalidis. This unique and challenging event, held each April in Philippi and at the splendid Imaret Hotel in Kavala, is an eagerly-anticipated fixture in the mooting calendar for the participating institutions, and attracts not only some of the brightest students but also some of the most senior Roman law academics in western Europe, who, as judges, interrogate mooters and give little quarter when it comes to time limits.

Alongside earnest competition, students, academics, organisers and sponsors have traditionally embraced the Moot as an opportunity to interact socially as well as intellectually with colleagues from different legal traditions and this year was no exception, with many firm friendships formed over the four days. The standard of competition has climbed steadily since Oxford won the inaugural contest in 2008 and the Law Faculty congratulates Anish, Eva, Mateusz and Michael on their outstanding performance in this year’s Moot.

Benjamin Spagnolo (Magdalen)

2011 Oxford International Roman Law Moot Team

(l to r) Eva Leung (HMC), Anish Patel (Somerville), Mateusz Krauze (HMC) and Michael Harper (Somerville) at the Imaret Hotel, Kavala, for the Fourth International Roman Law Moot Court Competition