The International Roman Law Moot Court Competition returned to Oxford for its seventh instalment in 2014. From 5 to 8 April, the Oxford Law Faculty was delighted to welcome students and academics from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the Università di Napoli Federico II, the Universität Wien, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, the Université de Liège, the Universität Trier and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens to the IRLM, which was held at venues in All Souls College, Magdalen College and Christ Church, with the invaluable support of Clifford Chance LLP.
The opening sentences of the libellus for the 2014 case owed a little to René Goscinny, albeit with a twist: ‘It is AD 540. The west of Europe has been overrun by barbarian tribes, who have set up their own independent kingdoms but, in the middle of southern Britannia (as it used to be known), in what the locals call The Great Weald, close to the Celtic hamlet of Siúlóid damh trí uisce (later, after the West Saxon expansion, called Oxanforda), a small group of Romans resist.’ To these lofty literary allusions was added an archaeological inspiration in the silver Graeco-Roman kantharos (drinking cup) of Stevensweert, found near the River Meuse in 1943 and subsequently the subject of legal proceedings that reached the Supreme Court of the Netherlands.
In the IRLM narrative, the Britannic Roman Alfredus, having come across the cup ‘in a visit with the troops’ to the nearby Celtic settlement, sends it to his friend Bartolus to sell and, from the proceeds, purchase a good copy of Justinian’s codification, together with four casks of good Opimian wine for the oppidulum Romanum’s celebration of the Emperor’s reconquest of Italy. Having initially obtained parchment copies of the Institutes, Digest and Code, Bartolus exchanges the Digest for a papyrus copy in a deal sweetened by five solidi. His slaves take a sip or two of the Opimian wine before it reaches Britannia and one of the other casks turns out to have gone sour. Meanwhile, a certain Ferox recognises the cup from its inscription to his uncle (a senator and officer in the legions who died when the Goths captured Milan) and claims it as heir to his uncle’s estate. Issues of mandate, unjust enrichment, theft and duties of good faith were thus intertwined in the overlapping claims that the parties submitted for adjudication.
In the Grand Final held in the Old Library at All Souls College, the University of Vienna was awarded the first prize (a rare silver antoninianus of the reign of Traianus Decius, struck c. AD 249-251 at the Antioch mint), defeating last year’s winners, Athens, by a margin of five ranking points. In the Small Final, Tübingen won the palmam tertiam ahead of the Oxford team, which comprised Verity Bell (New College), Caroline Greenfield (Brasenose), Melody Ihuoma (Balliol) and Liv Utvær (New College). The Faculty is very proud of the performance of the Oxford team, which won all but one of their preliminary round moots and was placed second in its group going into the Semi-Finals, behind the ultimate winners, Vienna. Georgia-Ilianna Karamani of Athens was awarded the Clifford Chance LLP Best Oralist Prize, with Honourable Mentions awarded to Josefine Wolff of Tübingen and Rory Gregson of Cambridge.
At the Clifford Chance LLP European Private Law Dinner held in the Hall of All Souls College to close the Moot, this year’s host, Regius Professor Boudewijn Sirks, announced the happy news that the eighth edition of the IRLM will be held in Naples in April 2015. The interest and enthusiasm of students, from both the common law and civil law traditions, for Roman law and for mooting is very strong, and the demand from other universities to be included in future International Roman Law Moots continues to grow.
IRLM Mooting Coordinator
The victorious Vienna team (l to r): Professor Richard Gamauf, Luka Samonig, Gerald Gotsbacher, Markus Weichbold and Julia Haunold with Mr Alex Panayides of Clifford Chance London.
Oxford’s 2014 IRLM team (l to r): Caroline Greenfield (Brasenose), Verity Bell (New College), Regius Professor Boudewijn Sirks, Melody Ihuoma (Balliol) and Liv Utvær (New College).