BY AGATHA MUHAISE
For the seventh time, Uganda Christian University (UCU) law students will be representing Uganda in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition from April 9 to 15 at New Jersey Avenue, Washington DC.
The team of four students led by Arnold Agaba, a lecturer in the Faculty of Law and head of moots at UCU earned their right to compete in the international round, by emerging champions at the national rounds hosted by the Cavendish University Faculty of Law, Kampala.
UCU beat teams from the Law Development Centre, Makerere University and Cavendish University, among others to compete with the very best at the international stage.
“Jessup is a prestigious competition and for any team to make it to the international round they must have passed the national round.
UCU won at the finals after beating the LDC team which was a mixture of Makerere University alumni and UCU alumni.
“However, LDC will also be coming along as an exhibition team but they will not be participating in the competition,” Dr Anthony Kakooza, the dean of the Faculty of Law at UCU, said.
LDC tags along
For LDC to make it for the trip, they petitioned, claiming that there were discrepancies following UCU’s win at the national level. However, Kakooza explained that this was a misunderstanding that arose due to an incident where LDC was announced champions initially before the results were re-evaluated and it was discovered that UCU was in fact the champion.
“During the finals at the national level, LDC was announced champions. But after they looked through their numbers, they discovered that UCU was actually the true champions and the announcement was made again making us the winners. But like human nature would have it, LDC was not happy. They petitioned with claims that the panel of judges had UCU staff members who were judging in our favour,” Dr Kakooza said.
Jessup, however, investigated the matter and discovered that all the allegations were not valued and UCU remains the winner. But to make both sides happy LDC was invited to the event as well.
The students who will represent UCU and Uganda include: Lucky-Kristina Trisha Banya, James Paul Kalondo, Isabel Abenaitwe Twongyeirwe, Joseph Okia and Pius Kitamirike.
Kakooza said that with the support of the Vice Chancellor, Dr John Senyonyi, who wrote directly to the American Embassy, the visas of the team have been secured. They will be leaving Uganda on April 5, to give them ample time to settle in and prepare for the competition.
Jessup is the world’s largest moot court competition for law students, with participants from more than 600 law schools in 95 countries.
The competition is sponsored by the international firm White and Case LLP with the headquarters in New York City. It is a professional training experience that teaches practical skills in research, writing, and advocacy.
“Our students representing Uganda do not only market the university and its courses but it is good for the students as well. They will be rubbing shoulders with the best lawyers in the world, network with them and learn from them.
“This makes them efficient lawyers that Uganda needs. And secondly there will be law scouts at the competition, one of them could be discovered,” Dr Kakooza said commenting on how important it is to participate in this competition.
The law students have been on a winning trajectory in national debates this year. Between March 10 to 11, 2017, they participated in the 10th Inter-University Human Rights Debate Competition where they emerged third, and won the best individual debator award.
The competition, which gathered 30 universities including UCU’s sister campus in Arua, had the chief guest as the Chief Justice of Uganda, Mr Bart Katurebe.