Osgoode team wins prestigious international competition


Above, left to right: The Osgoode team of Gregory Smith, Janet Walker (team advisor), Fiona Hickman, Jonathan Hood, Christopher Hickey, Stephen Vander Stoep and Tala Zarbafi

A team of students from York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School has won a major international legal competition in Vienna which featured 136 entries from 42 countries. It is the first win by a Canadian team in the 11-year history of the Willem C. Vis International Arbitration Moot, the world’s leading international commercial law moot (simulated legal case).

The team was made up of York law school students Christopher Hickey, Fiona Hickman, Jonathan Hood, Gregory Smith, Stephen Vander Stoep and Tala Zarbafi. Zarbafi also won an individual award as one of the top oralists in the competition. The final round of the event was held at the Reed Messe Wien exhibition facility on Thursday, April 8.

Janet Walker, associate dean of Osgoode Hall Law School who served as the team’s advisor, emphasized how exciting it was for the team to have a standing ovation from an audience of 1,200 in the finals of the competition. “This victory was a result of outstanding teamwork, with each and every team member making a significant contribution,” she added. “The Osgoode team was singled out for their courtesy, their collegiality, and the substance of their arguments. They truly represented the best of Osgoode.”

“This is a fantastic accomplishment for our students,” said Patrick Monahan (left), dean of the law school. “To win against such elite competition, from the US and the world, speaks volumes about the preparation, determination and the quality of Osgoode’s students.”

The Osgoode team defeated New Zealand’s Victoria University in the final round, while in the elimination round, Osgoode bested teams from the University of Paris II, Georgetown University in Washington, DC, the National Law School of India and the University of Ottawa.

The Vis International Arbitration Moot, which is organized by the Pace Law School in New York, is co-sponsored by a host of legal organizations including the major arbitrational institutions and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.

Osgoode’s participation was made possible with financial support from Baker & McKenzie, Blake Cassels Graydon LLP, Devry Smith Frank LLP, Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP, Lerners LLP, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, Patterson Palmer Law and Torys LLP.

The goal of the Willem C. Vis International Arbitration Moot is to foster the study of international commercial law and arbitration for resolution of international business disputes and to train law leaders of tomorrow in methods of alternative dispute resolution. Willem C. Vis, who died in 1993, was a world-recognized expert in international commercial transactions and dispute settlement procedures.