Writing a moot problem

  • Where to start
  • Laying out the moot problem
  • A good moot problem

  • Example problems

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  • Writing a good moot problem is difficult and time consuming. It is best done by an expert in a particular field of law, who can best identify contentious issues.

    Some examples of mooting problems can be found here, and also in the mooting books. This page aims to provide some assistance for those who wish to try and write their own.

    Where to start

    A good starting point is often a Supreme Court case featuring strong dissenting arguments, or where the judges state that if the case was somehow factually different, their decision might not have been the same. A moot problem can then be formed around the facts of such a case, or by combining the legal problems in two cases.

    Keep an eye on the papers or the Law Society Gazette for current case law - many legal journals will publish articles giving useful case commentary on areas of law which are not clear.

    Laying out the moot problem

    There are generally three sections to a moot problem:

    1. The facts

      Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown and sued Wellmaker Ltd for the cost of crown repairs, accusing them of negligence in constructing the hill.

    2. The [first instance][Court of Appeal] judgment

      Rhyme LJ in the Court of Appeal found for Wellmaker, and stated that there was no negligence as

      • Wellmaker could not have anticipated Jacks actions, since the use of taps and buckets was now well established. i.e. The actions were not reasonably foreseeable.
      • Wellmaker could not be held liable for damage to property worn on the head (Smith v Bloggs [1995] All ER 3144).
      Nursery LJ and Favourite LJ agreed.

    3. A statement of the grounds of appeal

      Jack appeals to the [Court of Appeal][Supreme Court] on the grounds that

      • His actions did not have to be foreseeable under Lord Holt's judgment in Fishy v Case [1997] AC 322.
      • Wellmaker was liable under the common law for damage to property worn on the head since it was required ceremonial dress.

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    A Good Moot Problem

    • There should be at least two distinct, clearly stated, and equally arguable points of appeal. This is necessary for mooters to easily divide their preparation work.
    • The facts should be unambiguously stated as the facts may not be disputed. A mooter should not be required to say 'We do not know from these facts whether...'
    • The problem areas should be legal rather than procedural. Although mooters can argue procedural issues with reference to authority, a moot is usually more interesting if a novel legal issue is raised.
    • It is usual practice to refer to a couple of cases in the text of the problem, with references, to give the mooters a starting point for their research.
    • The names of the parties should be chosen with care. Amusing names can be used, but similar names e.g. Peek & Poke, will cause the mooters problems.
    The best mooting problems have legal issues which are equally arguable either way, with equally important authorities supporting each line of argument. The result is then as much of a mystery to the writer, as to the mooters.

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    Once you've written the problem, please do send MootingNet a copy, and we can then make it available for other mooters to use.

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