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The Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court


The Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court (“Vis Moot” for short) is an annual student competition organized by the Institute of International Commercial Law at Pace University in White Plains, New York. The Vis Moot is the largest civil law moot court (last attended by 365 teams from 84 countries) and is held in English. The subject of the competition is a fictitious case from the field of international commercial law, which is negotiated in front of a fictitious arbitral tribunal.

The case contains legal issues in terms of both procedural and substantive law, which, among other things, must be solved with convincing arguments on the basis of the respective arbitration rules (these are selected anew in each round) and UN sales law. 

For example, in recent years, students have dealt with legal issues concerning whether a product is defective due to an environmentally unfriendly manufacturing process, whether attorney fees are compensatory damages under the CISG, whether written witness statements are admissible evidence and whether an arbitrator is considered biased because he or she previously worked for a subsidiary company of one of the parties.

The schedule of the Vis Moot is as follows: 

July/August: Selection of the teams

August – October: Preparatory phase, with internal preparatory events and visits to “mooting schools”, where initial contact is made with law firms and other teams 

Beginning of October: Publication of the case by the organizers

October – December: Draft of the memorandum for claimant 

December – January: Draft of the memorandum for respondent

January – April: Oral phase with numerous test pleadings, visits to law firms and pre-moots (there are countless pre-moots to choose from in Germany and abroad; last year’s teams were in New York, Belgrade, Brussels and Dublin) 

April: One-week closing event in Vienna

During the closing event in Vienna, the team first competes in the general rounds against four teams, which are randomly drawn, from universities around the world. The 64 teams that achieve the highest number of points move into the elimination rounds, where the two finalist teams are determined. These teams then compete against each other during the closing banquet in front of all of the other teams. During the banquet, awards and honorable mentions are presented for the best memorandum for claimant (Pieter Sanders Award), the best memorandum for respondent (Werner Melis Award) and the best individual speakers in the general rounds (Martin Domke Award).