The first Manfred Lachs Moot Court Competition was held in 1992, when the Association of US Members of the IISL (AUSMIISL) invited Georgetown University, George Washington University and the American University to each send two teams to participate in a moot court competition during the first World Space Congress held in Washington, D.C., USA in 1992. In 1993, the European Regional Round was created and, after the death of Judge Manfred Lachs, the competition was renamed in his honour and memory. In 2000, the Asia-Pacific Regional Round was created and in 2011, the African Round.
Participation in the Competition has steadily increased over the years, and now sees a large number of teams from leading law schools in each of the regions. Currently, around 60 teams register each year to participate in the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition and numbers continue to grow. The IISL is looking at expanding the competition to Latin and South America in the future.
Teams from all regions have won the competition. Previous winners are listed on the history page.
Structure of the Competition
In August each year, selected scholars of space law produce the moot problem for the following year. The problem is then released to universities and posted on this website. Law schools in each region then register for the Regional Rounds and submit written memorials on the moot problem in February or March. Regional Rounds are held between March and early June, with the North America Regional Round in Washington, D.C., and the European Regional Round, the Asia-Pacific Regional Round and the Africa Regional Round held in various cities in the respective regions.
The winners of each region then gather for the world finals in October, held in conjunction with the International Astronautical Congress and the IISL Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space. The team with the highest memorial score will meet with the team with the lowest memorial score in one Semi-Final and the remaining teams will appear in the other Semi-Final, with the winners advancing to the Final. The World Final of the Lachs Moot has the unique tradition of being judged by three sitting members of the International Court of Justice.
The winner of the World Final is presented with the Manfred Lachs Trophy. In addition to the Trophy, awards are also given at the world finals for the best memorials and the best oralist.
Several Lachs Moot awards are given:-
- Eilene M. Galloway Award for Best Memorial
- Lee Love Award for Winner
- Sterns and Tennen Award for Best Oralist
Impact on Past Participants
By participating in the Lachs Moot, students of each team develop valuable analytical and advocacy while simultaneously learning about core issues of contemporary concern in international space law. These experiences often carry through in later life, helping to shape successful careers in different areas of legal practice. The following testimonials provide evidence of the impact the moot has had on the lives of past participants.
ERNST BOUCHER, Leiden team winner of world finals in 1993 Graz. ERNST BOUCHER was an entrepreneur for almost fifteen years. Turning 40, he decided to take up the profession he was trained for and become a lawyer. He is now a partner at Immix Advocaten in the Netherlands, specializing in corporate law.
“Taking part in the 1993 Manfred Lachs Moot Court Competition taught me to think on my feet. It also taught me the importance of rhetoric and of structuring an argument into manageable “chunks” you can use creatively during the course of an oral presentation or negotiation.
I still benefit from those lessons today. The Space Law community at that time was formed by a friendly, enthusiastic and highly motivated group of people from around the world. I feel thankful for the opportunity I was given to take part in that group and to learn from its members.”
Stanimir Alexandrov and Tod Cohen were the winning team’s students at the 1992 Space Law Moot Court Competition in Washington DC – The first space law moot court competition ever.
STANIMIR A. ALEXANDROV is now the co-chair of the International Arbitration practice of Sidley Austin LLP, a global law firm with 1,600 lawyers
“When I joined the LL.M. program at The George Washington University Law School, I had no experience with oral advocacy. The opportunity to participate in the Space Law Moot Competition arose early in my studies. I thought it would be a good learning experience. I had no idea then how useful and enjoyable the experience would be. The Competition gave us an opportunity to develop writing and oral presentation skills and to test those skills in practice, before judges of the highest standard. It would be incorrect to say this was close to a real-life experience – it was much more: arguing before judges of the International Court of Justice is more than one would normally hope to achieve in life as a lawyer. I was fascinated by the challenge, by the thrill of persuading the judges, by the ability to conduct an oral argument thinking on my feet and remaining in charge even when I had to improvise. Winning a competition of this kind brings enormous satisfaction and opens the door to new challenges. For over 15 years now, my practice has involved appearing regularly before international tribunals to argue matters of public international law. When I do so, I always remember the Space Law Moot Competition and the lessons I learned from my participation in it.”
TOD COHEN is now a Vice President and the Deputy General Counsel for Global Government Relations, Intellectual Property, Regulatory and Asset Protection of eBay Inc.
“After all these years, I still feel very honored to have participated in the inaugural Space Law Moot Court competition in 1992. Having the opportunity to argue in front of Judges Lachs, Schwebel and Guillaume, was and remains one of the real highlights of my legal career. Having been fortunate enough to practice international law for almost 20 years, my experiences in all facets of the Space Law Moot Court competition has been helpful and important while handling issues in multiple disputes and situations around the globe. I remain thankful and grateful for the competition and hope others have similarly memorable experiences.”
Advocate PHETOLE PATRICK SEKHULA
“I took part in 1992 North America Regional Round held at George Washington University while a student at Georgetown University Law Centre. The Moot Court was an exhilirating experience that refined my research, writing and case presentation skills. It boosted my confidence to pursue litigation and advocacy work in legal practice.
I presently serve on the South African Council for Space Affairs charged with ensuring a coherent regulatory framework for space activities in SA. I also participate in UNCOPOUS and other space-related fora on behalf of Government. Thank you very much for the rewarding experience.”