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Norman Manley Law School Makes History

Norman Manley Law School team (from left) Marc Ramsay, Rene Gayle, Kerry Ann Heavens, Malene Alleyne, Alecia Johns, and tutor George Belnavis.
THE Norman Manley Law School has again excelled in an international law mooting competition. Last week, the team of Alecia Johns, Rene Gayle, Malene Alleyne, Kerry Heavens, and Marc Ramsay challenged some of the top law schools in the world at the Phillip C Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. The team flourished, reaching the Octo-finals round of the competition, and placing themselves in the top 16 teams.

The Phillip C Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, which takes place annually in Washington DC , has been described as the largest and most prestigious mooting competition in the world. More than 120 teams from over 70 countries participated in the international round of the competition in Washington DC from March 21 to 27.

Students have to prepare two substantial legal memorials in response to a wide-ranging question, and then make oral submissions before panels of practitioners in international law.

For this year, the main issues raised in the question posed concerned sovereignty over a group of islands (title to territory), self-determination, the exhaustion of local remedies, the nationality of claims, and the extent to which pre-contractual arrangements may be regarded as investments in international law.

Members of the Norman Manley Law School team took part in six matches, winning five by substantial margins.

Norman Manley defeated Belarusian State University (Belarus) 6-3, Lincoln's Inn (United Kingdom) 9-0, McGill University (Canada) 6-3, and Universitas Pelita Harapan (Indonesia) 8-1 in the preliminary round of the competition.

Based on these outstanding results the team qualified ninth out of over 100 teams to go into the advanced rounds. In the round of top 24 teams, Norman Manley beat Universidade Federal de Minas Gerias ( Brazil ). In the Octo-finals round, Norman Manley were edged out 5-4, by Universidad de los Andes ( Chile ).

Final year law school student Alecia Johns (Jamaican Rhodes Scholar-Elect 2010) received an award for being among the top 20 oralists in the competition, having ranked 17th out of over 2,000 oralists from around the world.

Johns commented on the value of the Jessup experience: "It was definitely a great experience to be able to compete on the world stage among some of the best and brightest and knowing that we made a mark, not only for our school and not only for our country, but for the entire region."

Team member Marc Ramsay expressed similar views: "This is another confirmation for me -- and I hope this will be an inspiration to all Caribbean people -- that our people can excel in any endeavour and on any stage."

Principal, Professor Stephen Vasciannie also had kind words for the students.

"The Norman Manley team of Alecia, Rene, Kerry Ann, Malene and Marc, was simply brilliant," Vasciannie said.

"I believe that these are the best results that a Caribbean team has ever obtained in the Jessup competition. The results are indeed a testament to the intellectual prowess of our students, their hard work and dedication, and a tribute to standards maintained at the law school."

The team was assisted in their preparation for the competition by several persons, including, among others, Principal Vasciannie; Dorcas White, senior tutor emerita; George Belnavis, senior tutor II; Hazel Edwards and Lorraine Patterson of the Attorney General's Chambers; and Neto Waite.

Earlier this month, the law school placed in the top eight (quarter-finalists) in the DM Harish International Mooting Competition in Mumbai, India, and second in the Latin American and Caribbean round of the World Trade Organisation Mooting Competition (finalists).