The Oxonian team of three law students, Ms Emily Van Heerden (MPhil in Law, Balliol), Mr Alan Eustace (BCL, St Cross) and Ms Francesca Parkes (BA in Law with French Law, Corpus) have won the 7th edition of the European Human Rights Moot Court Competition (EHRMCC) in Strasbourg.

The team was supported by Ms Emilie McDonnell (DPhil in Law, University) who was the team coach.

Pictured from left to right: Emilie McDonnell (Coach), Alan Eustace (Participant), Francesca Parkes (Participant), Emily Van Heerden (Participant), Satu Mattila-Budich (Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Finland to the Council of Europe who presented the winners with their certificates)

The Competition is jointly organised by the Council of Europe and the European Law Students Association (ELSA), with the oral pleadings taking place in Strasbourg at the Council of Europe and European Court of Human Rights from 14-18 April 2019.

The team qualified for the Final Round in Strasbourg based on their Written Submissions. Over 100 teams participated in the written rounds, with only the top 20 teams progressing on.  The Final Oral Round in Strasbourg lasted four days consisting of Preliminary Rounds and Quarter Finals at the Palais de l'Europe and the Semi Finals and Grand Final at the European Court of Human Rights.

Throughout the oral rounds, the Oxford Team placed number one , coming up against a team from Bulgaria in the Grand Final. Oxford plead as the Applicants before 9 judges in the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. The team won the ‘Council of Europe Award’ which provides each member with a one-month traineeship at the European Court of Human Rights. Ms Parkes also won Best Orator of the Semi-Finals.  

The fictitious problem for the 2019 Moot concerned alleged violations of the rights to private life under Article 8, a fair trial under Article 6, an effective remedy under Article 13, and non-discrimination under Article 14. The problem dealt with issues of cyber-harassment, hate speech, gender discrimination and violence against women, access to justice, and regulation of the digital sphere.

The EHRMCC Moot aims to provide a unique opportunity for students to engage with the principles of the European Convention of Human Rights and apply them to the moot problem at hand. Teams gain practical advocacy experience as if they were doing a real pleading in front of the European Court of Human Rights.

Featuring 20 teams from 13 different countries, the Final Rounds were also a wonderful opportunity for all the students to network and form friendships with one another, meet judges as well as interact with Permanent Representatives from the Council of Europe. The team also got to experience the beauty of Strasbourg, exploring its canals, restaurants and parks, as well as tour the Council of Europe and attend a panel on the importance of legal professionals for the existence and realisation of human rights.

Alan Eustace, one of the participants, said

I was delighted to be a part of the Oxford team for this amazing competition. Emily and Francesca were great to work with, and Emilie a fantastic coach - all round, I couldn't have asked for better support in my first experience of international mooting. We met some inspirational people among the other teams and at the Court; I can't wait to go back for the internship this summer.