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Strathmore Law School Students win the John H. Jackson Moot Court Competition

Catherine Penda, Khandwalla Maleehah and Mishael Wambua (from left) posing for a photo at the John H. Jackson Moot Court competition following their victory. Standing beside them is Joash Dachie (The CEO of the Kenya Law Reform Commission) and George Makinas (The Vice President of the ELSA moot court competition).

Three Strathmore University students, Mishael Wambua, Khandwalla Maleehah and Catherine Penda all pursuing Bachelor of Laws won this year’s African regional round of the 17th John H. Jackson Moot Court competition.

Team to represent Africa in Geneva

The team will present Africa in the Final Oral Round that will be held in Geneva, Switzerland in June. They will compete against the finalists from the other regional rounds such as the All-American, Asia-Pacific, and European rounds. Consequently, they will be awarded special scholarships, internships, and traineeships, giving them an opportunity to gain legal knowledge at the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, the African Union Commission, and the World Trade Institute.

“We didn’t expect to win, we anticipated that the competition would be very tough and therefore as a team we had decided to work hard, put our best foot forward, pray and hope for the best,” said Maleehah Khandwalla.

Other awards

The three students emerged victorious in the moot itself and in the following sectors:

  1. Safaricom, one of the sponsors awarded each of them Samsung Galaxy Tabs;
  2. Catherine Penda won a one-week internship at TRALAC (Trade Law Centre) South Africa
  3. The teammates won a full sponsorship tuition to summer school at the World Trade Institute in the University of Bern, Switzerland.
  4. Catherine Penda won the award for the Best Oralist for the preliminaries;
  5. Mishael Wambua won the award for the Best Oralist for the Semi Finals;
  6. There was a tie in the Best Oralist in the finals between Mishael and Maleehah

The competition, which took place at the Kenya School of Law, brought to the fore a great deal of challenges and lessons which the team acknowledged. “I learnt perseverance because I had to push myself for extra hours. I learnt how to accept feedback positively when my coaches and teammates corrected me. I also sharpened my advocacy skills, research skills and, most important, learnt how to be a good team member,” said Catherine Penda.

The competition involved teams from Ethiopia, Malawi, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Lesotho, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Uganda. The teams competed against each other for three days presenting their arguments for both parties of the dispute regarding a fictitious case. They were also judged by renowned panelists from reputable institutions and firms such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Advisory Centre on WTO Law (ACWL), Van Bael and Bellis, the African Union Commission, Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Office of the Attorney General of Kenya and the South African Department of Trade and Industry.

Builds awareness of the WTO dispute settlement system

The John H. Jackson Moot Court Competition on WTO Law is a student-run moot court competition organized annually by the European Law Students’ Association (ELSA) in co-operation with the World Trade Organization (WTO). It is a simulation of WTO Panel dispute settlement proceedings. It builds awareness of the WTO dispute settlement system and provides students around the world with legal knowledge and skill, while building global legal capacity.

Speaking on the moot experience, Mishael Wambua recounted that he dropped out of the first internal moot application because it was too intense. He was also rejected in the second internal moot.  “I’ve wanted to moot since I was in form three. I joined Strathmore Law School because of their moot culture.” In the first and second external moot, his team lost at the quarter finals and the preliminary round respectively. The John H. Jackson Moot Court competition was the third external challenge that he took part in. “In one word; surreal,” he remarked.

As the moot coordinator for Strathmore Law School (SLS), Allan Mukuki, the Director of international partnerships in SLS was elated and proud of the achievements of the team, led by their coach, Harrison Otieno. He added that when the moot was started in SLS, they were ready to conquer the mooting world, locally, regionally and internationally and indeed the win is testament of that dream. “Having trained the team members of this team in other moot competitions, and seeing them grow from their first time mooting in first year, the stars are but their limit and I look forward to having Mishael, Catherine and Maleehah bringing the trophy of the International Rounds and making SLS the first African University to win the competition. Congratulations to this great team and their coach, Harrison Otieno,” he said.


This article was written by Odhiambo Obonyo


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