In what is becoming a tradition, a group of BCL/MJur students from the University of Oxford visited international courts in The Hague on 27 and 28 March 2014. The trip was organised by the convener of the International Dispute Settlement course, Antonios Tzanakopoulos, with the assistance of Sir Franklin Berman QC and DPhil cand Anna Begemann.
In the morning of the first day, the students visited the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), where they met with Legal Counsel Kathleen Claussen. Kathleen delivered a lively presentation about the history and role of the PCA, its structure and operation, and its current caseload. She then engaged in a long Q&A session with the students about her work at the PCA and career options.
After an informal tour of the Peace Palace, the students went on to the second part of the visit: this was centered around the Croatia v Serbia case being argued before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also housed in the Peace Palace. Before attending the hearings in the Great Hall of Justice, the students met with Judge Kenneth Keith in the Oval Room, in the Peace Palace. Judge Keith spoke to the students about the life and work of a judge at the ICJ and answered many questions in a session that went on for more than an hour.
After the hearings, students met with senior counsels for Serbia Professors Andreas Zimmermann and Christian Tams. They discussed the hearings, Serbia’s litigation strategy and the prospects of the case, as well as practising at the international bar. The first day ended with a group dinner in a nearby restaurant: the students were joined by the current Oxford ICJ intern, DPhil cand Jessica Howley, Dr Ilias Plakokefalos, post-doctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam, and Dr Francesco Messineo, currently Associate Legal Officer with the International Court of Justice (and Lecturer at the University of Kent).
On the second day, the students attended a second day of hearings in the Croatia v Serbia case. During the lunch break, they met with Judge Sir Christopher Greenwood who gave a presentation on provisional measures and on the move from being counsel before the ICJ to being on the Bench. They also met senior counsel on the Croatian side Professor Philippe Sands QC, who spoke more generally about the Court and the competition it faces from other international courts and tribunals. The visit concluded on Friday evening, at the closure of the second round of pleadings in the Croatia v Serbia case.