Simulated Law Practice at the Highest Level
The John H. Jackson Moot Court Competition consists of a large-scale simulation of a WTO dispute settlement panel. It is named after one of the foremost academics in international trade law, directly responsible for the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In 2018-2019, over 500 participants from 39 countries, representing 84 universities in all continents, took part in the competition.
The competition includes both written and oral rounds. Participants from around the world send in written submissions, for the complainant and respondent, in a fictitious case. After sending in their submissions, all the teams are given the opportunity to present oral arguments in front of panels which consist of WTO and trade law experts. Winning teams from five Regional Rounds compete against each other in the Final Oral Round held in Geneva, Switzerland, at the WTO headquarters. The finals rounds are judged by high-level civil servants from the WTO, current and former WTO panelists and Members of the Appellate Body, and seasoned lawyers working in the field.
The Case: Food Safety Imports and Regional Trade Agreements
Geraldo Vidigal’s case, published on 15 September 2019, is a dispute between two Members of the WTO about food and animal trade, focusing on safety controls applied on importation. It raises a number of issues that trade lawyers have had to deal with, including the way WTO rules address perceived risks that have limited scientific basis and the right of WTO Members to grant advantages to their preferential trade partners when assessing the safety of imported products. It also raises issues that have not yet reached the WTO, such as the legal effects of a party to a regional trade block leaving that block.
The author found the experience challenging but highly rewarding:
‘Writing the case is an opportunity to throw light on unresolved issues as well as to stimulate reflection and debate on oncoming legal challenges. Because of the nature and level of the competition, every aspect of the case will be rigorously scrutinized by academics and practitioners for the year to come’.
The full case (Taikon – Requirements on the Importation of Prepared Foods and Live Animals from Astor) and the author webpage are accessible on the competition website.