The prestigious Eoin Higgins Memorial Moot Court Competition is held annually to commemorate the late Sir Eoin Higgins, a former Recorder of Belfast and later a Judge of the High Court. The competition alternates between Belfast and Dublin, and comprises teams from King’s Inn, Dublin, and the Institute of Professional Legal Studies. The Institute, having won the competition in Belfast in 2011, was keen to retain the Higgins Cup in 2012, and in that spirit the IPLS team of Neil Rogers, Tom Fee, Anna McLarnon, Christopher Summers and Rachel Bergin travelled to King’s Inns on 23 February 2012, having already submitted skeleton arguments.
The topic of the moot problem concerned an appeal on the grounds of judicial bias and the rights of prisoners pursuant to the European Convention on Human Rights & Fundamental Freedoms 1950, with the Institute arguing the case for the Appellant prisoner and Kings Inn arguing the case for the Respondent Irish State.
The moot court was presided over by Mr Turlough O’Donnell SC (a former Chairman of the Bar Council of Ireland, and son of Lord Justice O’Donnell, retired Lord Justice of Appeal in Northern Ireland and formerly a Chairman of the Council of Legal Education), Mr Justice Clarke (now a Judge of the Supreme Court in Ireland) and chaired by Mr Justice Tracey (Judge of Court of Judicature in Northern Ireland). Both teams engaged in making submissions and rebuttals, and fielded questions from the Bench – all within strict prescribed time limits - before the Judges retired to consider their decision.
That was the cue for the teams from both jurisdictions to repair for a wonderful dinner, hosted by King’s Inns. After this repast, when all the guests were suitably sated, Justice Tracey delivered the ‘verdict’ of the Moot Court – the Cup was to be repatriated for a second year to Northern Ireland, the winners being once again the Institute of Professional Legal Studies. The trophy was then presented to the IPLS, which was coached by Martin O’Brien Barrister-at-Law, and the five justly delighted mooters made their way back to Lennoxvale to resume their studies for the Bar.
Rachel Bergin, Bar Trainee