SPbU students triumph in FDI Moot competition

13.11.2019

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The best teams of law students from all over the world converged on Miami, Florida in the USA to argue it out in the Global Orals of Foreign Direct Investment International Arbitration Moot Competition (FDI Moot) 2019, and it was the team from St Petersburg University that came out on top.  They outargued participants from the USA, Egypt, Singapore, Kenya, Belarus and another Russian team from Moscow.

St Petersburg University student Nika Vartanova was judged to be the best advocate in the final round, and her fellow team member, Natalia Kovalkova, was recognised as one of the best speakers in the earlier, qualifying rounds.  The other members of the team from St Petersburg University were Daria Soshnikova, Ilia Zobkov and Daniil Odud.  The students were coached and advised by St Petersburg University alumni Aleksandra Mirgorodskaia, Mariia Strekalova and Iuliia Beketova, all of whom are now practising lawyers.

Sixty-one teams representing the world’s leading universities took part in the final, international stage of the FDI Moot, which was held at the University of Miami Law School.  During the group stage of the competition, the team from St Petersburg University competed with teams from the USA (New York), Kenya, Egypt and Belarus, and in the semifinals they were pitted against law students from Singapore. 

This year’s moot case involved a conflict between a host or, in legal terms, respondent state and an investor, and this disagreement led to government regulation of social networks that had infringed upon the interests of the investor companies.  In accordance with the law, the government of the host state blocked foreign social media platforms, after which their owners – the investors – alleged expropriation and violation of fair and equitable treatment.  ‘The topic of the case used in the competition is very relevant to the situation in Russia,’ Daria Soshnikova explained, ‘and it was co-developed by members of the teams of Moscow State University and the Moscow State Institute for International Relations (MGIMO University) from prior years.’  As she pointed out, this is why it was especially interesting to play against another team from Russia (their opponent in the finals was the team from MGIMO University).

Foreign Direct Investment International Arbitration Moot has been held every year since 2008.  This competition gives young law students a chance to acquire practical experience in understanding problems that arise in connection with contractual obligations between foreign investors and the host states that receive the investments. FDI Moot is a unique venue that brings together institutions of higher education, experienced practitioners and future lawyers, not only to showcase talent but also to search out new trends in the field of law.

According to the rules of the competition, the participants represented both parties in the agreement on the encouragement and mutual protection of investments at all stages of the proceedings, from the writing of the memorials – legal briefs or position papers – to the oral presentations of arguments before the judges.  ‘What helped us to win was support from our coaches and advisors, intensive preparation and luck.  Participation in the preliminary rounds made it possible for us to hone our speaking skills and also to get some training in how to represent our client and respond to the questions of the judges in conditions that simulated what we would have in the finals,’ the students declared, emphasising that the FDI Moot is an opportunity to learn from the best of their colleagues the world over and to demonstrate that they have a high level of professionalism.

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