On Monday 16 March, we held our Mooting Competition Final at the Supreme Court in London! The best performing teams, Sean Walkden and Arthur Sutton for the appellants and Sandra Wassili and Una Haznadar for the respondents, argued a case on consumer law and protection in front of Lord Wilson.
Before the competition began, the Supreme Court gave us a tour around its facilities. We were shown the beautiful courtrooms and the magnificent Justices’ Library, which is not usually open to the public. Once the students had taken plenty of photos of the courtrooms to post on Instagram, it was time for the mooting competition to begin!
First of all, here is a summary of the case: a second-hand left-hand drive sport car had been sold by Johnny Caster, the appellant, to Danny Indigo and Aleisha Autumn, the respondents. Johnny sold this car on behalf of their aunt as they were in the process of beginning a car dealership. While the car seemed good upon first inspection, it soon developed problems with the brake system, the gear and door lock. As a result, the respondents were awarded compensation for damages in the lower courts. Johnny was now appealing these decisions to the Supreme Court.
Arthur acted as senior counsel for the appellants. He submitted that his client (Johnny) sold his aunt’s car as a favour for his aunt, rather than selling it on behalf of his not-yet-incorporated company. Arthur stated that his client merely wrote down the name of a company when giving over his contact details. This was not sufficient to make him a trader. As the appellant was not a trader because he did not have his own business, the respondent was not a consumer and the remedies found in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 were not applicable. Additionally, the respondent should be responsible for not inspecting the car correctly, for instance by properly testing the car’s brakes before a long trip to Scotland. As a result, Arthur argued that it was not his client’s fault that the car was deemed unsatisfactory after purchase as the respondents were given the opportunity to inspect the car. Finally, the respondents continued to use the car after discovering that the breaks did not work and the client offered to repair the vehicle, meaning that the respondents were responsible for putting themselves at risk.
Sean was junior counsel for the appellants. He submitted that the respondent could not rely on consumer protection measures because they were given the opportunity to inspect the car before purchase and this examination should have revealed any faults with the vehicle. As the respondents were happy upon inspection, nothing could be blamed on his client. Sean successfully answered a series of questions from Lord Wilson, including on the use of old authorities in a case regulated by a statute enacted in 2015. On this point, for instance, Sean argued that decades-old cases are good authorities as they show the strength of the law and the unfaltering implementation of key principles from English courts.
Una was senior counsel for the respondents. Her main concern was to reassert the validity of the lower courts’ judgments. As a result, she argued that the quality of the good (the left-hand drive sports car) sold to her clients was not satisfactory. As the appellant was a trader, this caused a breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Lord Wilson also engaged in a series of detailed questions with Una, particularly on the use of specific authorities in support of her arguments. Nevertheless, Una successfully made the point that the appellant’s failure to repair the vehicle should give her clients the legal right to reject the goods and claim for compensation.
Sandra acted as junior counsel for the respondents. In her submissions, she focused on the ownership of the car and on the qualification of the appellant. In particular, Sandra argued that the transaction between the appellant and the respondents was a commercial one, as Johnny presented himself as a trader.
Lord Wilson dismissed the appeal, with the sole exception of the nominal damages awarded to one of the respondents. After having adjudicated on the expenses of the procedure, he complimented both teams and provided detailed feedback to our finalists. He praised them for their wok and said that they would make excellent barristers in the near future. Lord Wilson stated that throughout the competition, he could see all of our finalists being the winner and it was a hard deciding who would be declared the winner.
Lord Wilson felt that the appellants had a slight edge and were announced as the winners of the moot. Sean Walkden was declared the best mooter overall and he was awarded the prize of a mini-pupillage with Nicholas Bacon QC (4 New Square). Lord Wilson bumped elbows with all participants in post-verdict celebrations as hand shaking has been advised against in light of COVID-19.
We would like to thank and congratulate all the teams who took part in the mooting competitions and the members of the staff who contributed to the success of these competitions. A special thank goes to Prof. Karen Hulme for the School’s continuous support towards the competition and for dealing with the logistical issues caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Additionally, a special mention should be made to Dr. Jaime Lindsey for finding the opportunity to hold the final of the mooting competition to the Supreme Court, the Law and Human Rights Events Team and the Student Experience Team for successfully organising the earlier rounds of the competition. Jason Torrance (FJG Solicitors) and Anne-Carole Parry-Jones were also great in providing detailed feedback to the mooters in the semi-final rounds.