Kenya competition puts legal skills on trial

Young Kenyans targeting a future in advocacy had their legal skills put on trial as part of a University of Dundee competition.

The country’s next generation of legal professionals took their first steps towards the courtroom as they competed in the University’s Kenya Schools Mooting Competition.

Youngsters from four Nairobi secondary schools took part in the inaugural event, which was held in the Kenyan capital’s Kempinski Hotel and organised in conjunction with SI-UK Kenya, an independent service that supports students applying to UK universities.

Schools presented teams of four pupils, of which two members were nominated to address the judges, Dundee’s Professor Peter McEleavy, a barrister of Gray’s Inn, and leading student mooter, Conor Keir.

A moot court competition simulates court proceedings, with a legal issue presented to two teams that must apply the law in arguing their respective cases. Though similar in some respects to debating, the simulated judicial system has been used for centuries as a tool for training legal professionals.

The competition centred on a fictitious English court case whereby a car was damaged whilst being repaired in a garage. The teams were judged not only on their ability to argue on behalf of their respective parties, but on their application of the law within the scenario.

In the final, pupils from St. Austin’s Academy prevailed over Oshwal Academy, with Jaffrey Academy defeating Aga Khan Academy in the third place contest.

Professor McEleavy, Dundee’s Academic Lead for Sub-Saharan Africa, said, “The standard of mooting was exceptionally high. The students had achieved a very high degree of understanding of complex legal concepts and were able to deliver their submissions with great authority and poise. They were a credit to themselves, their teachers and their schools.

“This inaugural event has been a tremendous success and we are already looking forward to expanding the competition when we return next year.”

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