Notre Dame student wins international law accolade

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Rebecca Lennard
Rebecca Lennard

Sydney law student Rebecca Lennard has made history at the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot in Vienna, receiving the highest individual award – the first time in the competition’s 23 year history that an inaugural team has achieved this feat.

Rebecca’s spectacular performance saw her tie to take out this year’s Martin Domke Award for Best Speaker in the Vis Moot general rounds – the first Australian to do so since 2005. It is also the first time the University of Notre Dame Sydney law school has competed in the prestigious competition.

Rebecca, in her fourth year of law Notre Dame, was one of nearly 2000 law students competing in 311 teams representing 67 countries at this year’s Vis International Arbitration Moot.

Rebecca and team members Sabrina Mobbs, Caroline Michel, Sally Page and Andrea Bennett put in a strong performance, coming runner-up in the pre-moot, hosted by the Permanent Court of Arbitration and held in the Peace Palace in The Hague last month against a very strong field. A sixth team member, Christopher Khalil, was unable to make it to Vienna.

The annual competition aims to train future lawyers in alternative dispute resolution and foster the study of international commercial law and arbitration.

Rebecca’s individual result saw her share the Martin Domke Award for Best Speaker in a three-way tie. Rebecca said winning the award was unexpected and still felt quite surreal.

“While you prepare and practise as much as possible, being a first-time team in the Vis Moot I never could have anticipated this result,” Rebecca said.

”With the competition the largest it’s ever been, I am so honoured to have been an equal recipient of the award this year. Not only is it an incredible personal achievement, but one that the whole team can be proud of – it reflects all the hard work each of us put in over the past months and is the best way of saying thank you to those who supported us the whole way.

“The Vis Moot offers such a unique opportunity for students to push beyond the walls of the classroom, challenge themselves intellectually and to meet practitioners, law professors and other students from around the world. Having the chance to participate is the definite highlight of my legal studies so far.”

Sydney dean of law Professor Michael Quinlan congratulated the team and their coaches, including Notre Dame law academic Svetlana German, and Angus Macinnis from Sydney law firm StevensVuaran Lawyers, who have worked with the team since November.

Senior law lecturer Francisco Esparraga, who had served as a judge/arbitrator at the Vis Moot for the past seven years, was proud to accompany the team.

“It was wonderful to see the performances of the students, whom I have taught since their first year at the law school. It was truly a history-making achievement,” Mr Esparraga said.

Mr Macinnis said Rebecca’s remarkable result, while an individual award, highlighted the strength of the entire Sydney team in working together to develop effective arguments.

“I was tremendously impressed by the way that the team worked together to learn a lot of new and complex law very quickly.”