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Stetson University College of Law wins world championship


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Gulfport, Fla. – Stetson University College of Law became the first American law school since 1996 to win the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot competition, held March 18-24 in Vienna, Austria. Teams from 150 law schools in 47 countries competed.

Stetson received the prestigious Frédéric Eisemann Award for winning. In its 12th year, the competition is the largest gathering of law schools in one place for such an event, as well as the largest involving private international law. The competition provides an opportunity for law students to present arguments on a hypothetical international business dispute to distinguished international arbitrators, scholars and jurists.

The championship team consisted of law students Katherine Hurst, Ryan Jones, Megan Schultz, Burks Smith and Tom Yaegers, with Kathryn Christian assisting on the memoranda. Professors Jack Graves and Stephanie Vaughan coached the team.

“The enormity of this accomplishment is difficult to put into words,” Graves said. “The best and the brightest in international commercial law and arbitration gather in Vienna for a competition celebrating 25 years of work by the United Nations in international trade law. The opportunity to see our students win it all in this prestigious event was simply incredible. I have never been more proud of a group of young men and women.”

Stetson defeated the University of Vienna in the final round. The team defeated Columbia University, the National University of Singapore, Queen’s University (Canada), and the University of Notre Dame (Australia) in earlier elimination rounds.

Professor Dr. Gabrielle Kaufmann-Kohler, president of the Swiss Arbitration Association, chaired the arbitration panel in the final round. In announcing Stetson as the winner of the final round, she analogized the award to an Olympic gold medal.

“This team worked together in perfect harmony,” said Vaughan, Stetson’s moot court adviser. “This group of special and unique students worked together as a cohesive unit for six months and traveled together for two weeks. Bringing home the world championship to the United States, and directly to Stetson, is indescribable. I have never been more excited for my students and Stetson.”

The Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot highlights the importance of the United Nations Convention on the International Sale of Goods (governing international sales of goods between businesses from member states) and the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration. The goal of the moot is to foster the study of international commercial law and arbitration.

The moot also serves as an opportunity for many of the foremost authorities on international commercial law and arbitration to gather for the week to attend conferences and serve as arbitrators for the student arguments. Each year’s moot also highlights one of the many sets of institutional arbitration rules. This year, the hypothetical parties to the moot problem chose the Swiss Rules of International Arbitration.

The team received a generous contribution from the International Law Section of the Florida Bar to help cover the cost of its travel and participation in the moot.