Blog post written by Béatrice Lallemand, Founder and Organiser of Oras!, Essex President of the Association du Double-Diplôme Essex/France.
It is our greatest pleasure to inform you that our Essex Representative Clara Prillard brought the first Oras! Mooting Competition cup home! Congratulations to her for her incredible performance. Her success was due to an effective delivery of a well-written and well-structured plea!
For those interested, you can watch the final on YouTube.
Following a wonderful semi-final round involving participants from different universities and double degrees all around France and the UK, 4 contestants earned their place in the final. A total of 60 people were connected, including family, friends, and alumni of the double degree.
During the final, the contestants had to plea on topics of English Contract Law (first-year contestants) and English Criminal Law (second-year contestants). You can request access to the topics via Google Drive (topic one and topic two).
The finalists had to defend their client for a maximum of 10 minutes, followed by 2 minutes of Q&A with the members of the panel. Given the outstanding performances of the participants, deliberations took a while. Nevertheless, our two winners were finally announced: Nikoleta Konstantellou (Queen Mary/ Sorbonne Representative) and Clara Prillard (Essex / Lyon 3 Representative). Congratulations to them both!
Stay tuned for the following interview with Clara!
Béatrice : Could you briefly introduce yourself (name, age, area of law you would like to specialize in, what you want to do in the future/ Master you want to do after the LLB)? And tell us why you decided to take part in the Oras! Mooting competition?
Clara: My name is Clara Prillard. I am 20 years old, and I am in my second year of the double degree LLB English Law and French Law. I am highly interested in Public International Law. Working as a lawyer at the United Nations would be my dream job. I decided to participate in the Oras! Mooting competition as it is a great opportunity to exercise pleading.
Béatrice : You managed to win the finale of the Oras! Mooting Competition, can you tell us more about the finale and the way you experienced this last stage of the competition?
Clara: Getting to experience both the French type of Mooting Competition and finally the British Mooting Competition for the finale of Oras! was immensely interesting.
Three days prior to the finale, I sent my bundle containing all the case-law and legislations used during my plea for the jury. On the day of the competition, I had a maximum of 10 minutes to convince the panel, followed by 2 minutes of questions at the end of my opponent’s closing argument.
I was quite stressed as competing in front of this esteemed panel of judges was very impressive. Nevertheless, once I started my plea, the stress turned into adrenaline. It became a ‘positive stress’ and boosted my performance. I had done all my research and was confident with my work. Therefore, I managed to stay focused on my submission. I was determined to convince the panel and used pressure as a tool to achieve this aim. As a result, even if this experience was challenging, I managed to keep the pressure levelled, and winning the finale has been a huge honour for me.
Béatrice: You were given a topic of English Criminal Law related to conspiracy of murder : a sidecar was stolen and two members of an organized crime group used it and drive it to meet with Mr Cornell who ended up shot to death. The two group members of the organized crime fled the scene and abandoned the sidecar near Ronnie Bonano’s house which was set on fire with gasoline. One member was arrested and prosecuted to conspiracy to murder and sentenced to imprisonment for life. Ronnie Bonano was also arrested at his house after being recognized by the owner of the sidecar and because his fingerprints were found on the remains of the car and on the gasoline tanks left near the sidecar. On behalf of the Crown, you had to prosecute Mr Ronnie Bonano. Can you explain in a few sentences how you successfully managed to convince the panel?
Clara: The finale required a formal plea. Therefore, I concentrated on building a strong eloquent presentation with solid arguments demonstrating that the Actus Reus and the Mens Rea for both the offence of conspiracy to murder and the offence of participation in the activities of an organised crime group were established. I proved beyond all reasonable doubt that Ronnie Bonano and Franco Freezer agreed to murder Mr. Cornell. By virtue of the evidence, I demonstrated that Mr Ronnie Bonano’s presence at the time of the incident left no room for mere coincidence but instead proved Mr Ronnie Bonano’s participation in the conspiracy to murder Mr Cornell.
On behalf of the Crown, after having submitted Mr Ronnie Bonano’s liability for both offences, I urged the Court to sentence him to imprisonment for life.
Béatrice: In this round, you had to answer the questions of the panel, how did you prepare to this part of the competition?
I prepared myself by thinking about the parts of my arguments that could be challenged. In theory, I had planned to think about my answer while listening to the question. However, in practice, when the members of the panel formulated their questions, I was stressed and was entirely focused on listening to them to ensure that I understood the question. Therefore, while things did not go as imagined, I simply went ahead answering in English what I thought was the right thing to say at the time. I was a bit confused at the beginning of the questions as I had no time to think about what I was going to answer in English. Nevertheless, I progressively became more comfortable in my answers and the stress changed into adrenaline. Therefore, the relevant things that I thought would convince the panel came naturally. I found it challenging but it was a very interesting exercise that helped me gain confidence.
Béatrice: You received the help of Mr Kingsleigh Viollett, alumnus of your program and now a successful barrister at College Chambers: what skills did you gain under his coaching, how did you prepare for the competition?
Clara: Mr Kingsleigh Viollett was of great help to me. He guided me with the courtesy expressions needed when addressing the Court. He also advised me on my plea. I was grateful as Mr Kingsleigh Viollett gently guided me through the formal English plea style which I was not too familiar with. This helped me a lot as it made me feel better prepared and more confident for the competition. Receiving guidance from a successful barrister such as Mr Kingsleigh Viollett was an invaluable experience.
Béatrice: Can you tell us about your overall experience of the competition? What did you like and dislike about it?
Clara: I really enjoyed pleading. It was the first time, but it will certainly not be the last! I am a competitive person, therefore facing remarkable students in this plea was exhilarating. On the one hand, I really appreciated the humour in the French plea, especially in the semi-finale. Indeed, I enjoyed building a strong demonstration in law and bring a small touch of humour in my plea. On the other hand, completing the finale in English in a more formal way was a great achievement. This gave me the opportunity to gain a taste of a real mooting competition ‘in the English style’. Nevertheless, I have to admit that I missed the theatrics that go with the French style (the physical gestures and the use of different vocal tonality). In my opinion, the ‘French style’ is opening the plea to another dimension, strengthening the intensity of the message conveyed while keeping the listeners’ attention through using an attractive eloquent presentation. It gives more possibilities to embrace the emotions we want to share with the panel. I liked putting my personal touch in the French less formal plea and I missed this liberty to express my passion in the English formal plea. Finally, if I had to name something I disliked, it would be the fact that the competition had to take place remotely. As a consequence, I was not able to feel the atmosphere of the courtroom and adapt to engage the panel as much as I would have liked.
Béatrice: Next year, we intend to run the competition again and open it to third-year students. Do you think you will take part again?
I am delighted to have won the first even second year Oras! Mooting Competition as the Essex Representative.
Regarding the competition next year, I cannot say for sure whether I will take part in this new edition as it will depend on my other activities. But, what I can say is that if I have the time, I’d be happy to… ! We shall see what the future holds for me!
Thank you Clara, for taking the time to answer our questions and congratulations to you again for your performance it was really impressive!