Exclusive Interview with the Team from MNLU, Mumbai: Winners of 3rd Tamil Nadu National Law University – Competition Commission of India National Moot Court Competition

Details of the Competition: 3rd Tamil Nadu National Law University – Competition Commission of India National Moot Court Competition [3rd TNNLU-CCI National Moot Court Competition] (6 – 8 March, Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu.)

Name of the Team Members:

  1. Ira Pandya, 4th year
  2. Parina Muchhala, 3rd year
  3. Pratik Irpatgire, 4th year

Name of the College: Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai

Awards: Winning Team (cash prize of Rs. 45,000/ + complimentary access to EBC) and Best Memorial (cash prize of Rs. 10,000)

  1. What made you choose this moot in the first place?

Since we were either in the third or fourth year of law school, choosing a moot with dates that did not clash with our internships was paramount, in addition to ensuring that the three of us were interested in the subject-matter of the moot. The dates of the TNNLU-CCI moot were perfect, as it gave us time to research and intern at the same time without compromising on either. We were confident that the moot, being co-hosted by the Competition Commission of India itself, would maintain high standards. Our confidence was boosted by the moot proposition itself, which was beautifully drafted with enough loopholes on both sides. Furthermore, it dealt with antitrust violations in two-sided markets, a novel area of research within competition law itself. Thus, this moot immediately caught our eye.

Competition Law is a dynamic and indispensable field of law in today’s commercial world. While the acquisition of companies (eg. Facebook’s recent purchase of stake in Jio) remains relatively explored, concerns with respect to privacy, intellectual property, and consumer welfare prompt the adoption of a new lens to analyse competition law. Thus, we believed that it was a timely and beneficial opportunity that had come our way.

  1. What was the process of preparation? How did you go about it?

The moot proposition was released when all three of us were interning. Thus, we could not work as a team and decided to master the facts and undertake basic readings individually (since neither of us had studied Competition Law earlier). This involved all of us delving into the underlying economics itself, to ensure that we were clear with all concepts involved. At this stage, we referred to case law, Indian and European authors on competition law to ensure that our preparation was not lacking anywhere.

Our major preparation began once our college resumed in February. We spent a week brainstorming the facts and discussing what issues could be framed. After this, we divided the issues and began researching individually, assisting one another frequently since the issues had overlapping arguments. One of the major challenges that we faced (in our Informant memorial) was with respect to the incorporation of the idea of collective dominance into Indian competition law jurisprudence, since it has explicitly been rejected by the CCI on numerous occasions. Thus, we often found ourselves rethinking various submissions to find plausible ways to derive an argument justifying its incorporation. This involved thorough research into the aegis of the idea in EU competition law itself, and was one of the most satisfying parts of our preparation.

A week prior to the memorial submission, we began fine-tuning our arguments, placing special emphasis on the language, references and formatting of the memorial. To do so, we used to sit for long hours after college, in the common study room. We were particularly careful to include a balance of Indian and European cases, so that our arguments were better substantiated.

With respect to our preparation for the oral rounds, we divided speaking of the issues in a manner that each speaker had to deal with the issues they had researched on. This ensured that we had a grip over the arguments. We undertook a few practice oral rounds before the prelims (for a day) to ensure that we were confident enough to speak when the rounds began. Since we were the first team from our college to go for this moot, we did not have any senior team that could guide us and hence went about the entire preparation process ourselves.

  1. How important is the essence of team effort during moot preparations? How was it like working with your team? Did you have any conflicts? How did you resolve them?

We cannot stress enough on how important it is for all three members to be united towards achieving the common goal. From day one, the three of us were determined to win the moot – for us, there was no in between that could be acceptable! During highs and lows of individual preparation, it is the other two members who come to the rescue. Team members are critical because they facilitate discussion, contribute alternative perspectives, and give a much needed confidence boost to one another.

The three of us knew each other well before we decided to team up together. It is important to have a team with which you can be brutally honest and extremely comfortable. It also helps because you are well acquainted with their research style – helping you balance each other’s approaches with the broader expectations of the competition. Thus, we did not face any major conflicts. That being said, we did often debate on (and occasionally fight) about the arguments to be advanced in the memorial! Nevertheless, they were some of the most humbling discussions that we had, and each one of us learnt a lot from the other.

  1. How many teams were you up against in this competition? Which team would you consider to be the toughest competition?

There were a total of 24 teams that participated in the moot. We were against a total of five teams (two during prelims, one each from the quarters leading upto the finals). Each team was paired against the other in the prelims based on the consolidated memorial scores.

While each one of our opponents challenged us in some or the other way, one of our most personally satisfying rounds was against Symbiosis Law School, Pune in the semi-finals. We knew from the memorial exchange that we were up against an extremely well-prepared team, which was also reflected during the Oral Rounds. They had clarity in their arguments and a very well-drafted memorial, which sure made us nervous. The Bench, comprising of practitioners and practising members of the CCI, also raised pertinent and practical questions, making the round all the more memorable.

  1. How was the final round and who were you up against? How would you describe the opposing team? What were the techniques to crack it up?

Our final round was against Christ University, Bangalore. It was an exhilarating, albeit memorable round – we were extremely nervous throughout! The composition of the bench was Mr. Rahul Goel, Dr. T.S. Somasekhar and Shri Ved Prakash Mishra. We knew pleading in front of these judges who were experts in Competition Law, was going to be difficult and exciting at the same time.

The opposing team had great arguments, and were extremely well prepared and responsive to queries of the judges. This ensured that we were constantly thinking of thought-provoking rebuttals. By the end, we were convinced that both the teams had given each other a neck-to-neck competition throughout the round, making it all the more exciting to await the results. All in all, it was a gripping round, and the Bench was extremely interactive and posed great questions. These feelings made it all the more satisfying to be adjudged WINNERS of the moot.

  1. Students mostly are too scared and hesitating while participating in moot court due to intense research work. How important is mooting in a law student’s career. Any message would you like to pass on to the law students?

Mooting shapes your personality in more ways than you can believe, helping you grow as a person. Apart from the traditionally acknowledged benefits in terms of advocacy and research training, it importantly teaches you to remain a learner throughout law school, and subsequently as a lawyer. Each of us has mooted before, and has lost countless times before being able to achieve this. Mooting teaches you to evolve, and each of us have benefited immensely from our numerous attempts to push ourselves and set new targets to challenge ourselves.

The art of tackling a Bench with relevant and correct answers on-spot, maintaining composure, examining logical consistency of arguments, trying to find arguments in areas that have not been researched before are certain thrilling experiences that come with mooting, and we would recommend any law student to try mooting once before deciding that they don’t like it (because there is no such thing as not liking mooting!). Even if the idea of speaking is daunting to you or you have not participated in speaking activities in school, we urge you to participate in as much moot court you can and going through this experience once. Falling asleep researching in the library, complaining about sleep deprivation, overdoing with caffeine and green tea to stay up and find the answer to the question plaguing you since long may seem like an ordinary event now, but it also contributes to some of the many fond memories that you will have of law school.

  1. Final comments on the level of competition and the organization of the competition.

We express our wholehearted gratitude to the TNNLU Organising Committee for diligently working towards ensuring a great experience for all participants. The Organisers were extremely kind and responsive, assisting us at each step of the way. They had also invited a mixture of practitioners, academicians, and members of the Competition Commission of India which we found to be particularly impressive. It ensured that the arguments were evaluated through different lenses at all points of time throughout the competition. As mentioned earlier, the level of the competition was impressive, as we not only faced good teams but were also faced with a well-researched, novel moot proposition itself. It forced us to remain on our toes at all points of time and constantly revisit our work. We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to our Hon’ble Vice Chancellor Sir, the Hon’ble Registrar Sir and Moot Court Society MNLU Mumbai for giving us an opportunity to represent the University in this Competition.