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Gary Slapper - Thank You For The Experience!

Congratulations to the Gary Slapper Memorial Moot Competition 2020/2021 winners Chloe Lydell and Aaron Fricker, who did an outstanding job. Worthy winners and it was a pleasure mooting against them.

I was lucky enough to have taken part in the final of The Gary Slapper Memorial Moot, organised by the OULS. I wanted to take the opportunity to write about my experience and also tell you a little bit about the man himself.

Gary Slapper was an incredibly remarkable person who did a lot for the Open University and sadly passed away on the 4th of December 2016 and this Mooting competition was set up in his honour.

Professor Gary Slapper was born in September 1958 in Wembley, North London. He studied law at University College, London and went on to study his doctorate at the London School of Economics. He also undertook his teacher training at the University of Manchester.

He was a Door Tenant at 36 Bedford Row, the Chambers of Frances Oldham QC, and was a member of the Society of Legal Scholars. He was a Senior Academic on the Bar Standards Board's Education and training Committee and a Visiting Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Gary’s research interests included tort law, the English legal system, corporate crime and corporate social responsibility.

Gary was also a writer for a number of years. His first book to be published was Blood in the Bank. This was a study of 40 cases of commercially related deaths that had taken place around England. He went on to write further legal books such as The English Legal System, How the Law Works and his series of Weird Cases books. These were based on his Times Online column, which discussed cases from around the world.

Gary founded The Open University law school and created a joint venture with the College of Law to set up a part-time LLB course. The course that we all study today. He was Head of Law School at The Open University until 2011. He then went on to be director of New York University’s London campus and he was also NYU’s global law professor.

Gary can only be described as someone that aspired to teach and assist law students through their legal journey. Not only did he write influential legal books but created a law degree that meant so many could study with no prior qualifications such as A levels.

This year’s competition was held remotely due to the COVID pandemic but that did not detract from the high standard of competition.

I thought I would enter as nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say. The competition is open to any Open University Law Society members and current undergraduate or masters’ students. There are four rounds to get through. In the first round, you are judged individually. You are provided with a moot problem and a pre-provided bundle of authorities. I had a few weeks to produce a skeleton argument for both the appellant and respondent. If I am honest, I never thought I would get through this round. I had a TMA due and was pushed for time.

However, I was very surprised to get to the next round. The highest scoring 16 individuals go through to round two and again this is judged individually. You are drawn at random to represent either the appellant or respondent. There wasn’t long to prepare, and I felt the time pressure, but I wanted to give it my all. To my amazement, I progressed to the finals. I was in complete shock.

The preparation for the finals was a little more intense. You are provided with a different moot problem, and you are required to produce a skeleton and your own bundle this time. We were allowed to use a maximum of 6 authorities. It was then down to research, research, and more research. It is a great test of your skills that you pick up along with your studies. To be able to independently research cases and figure out if they will be enough to help win your case was good fun but also extremely time-consuming.

The day of the final was finally here, and I was very nervous. We had two great judges, Abigail Scott who is a Barrister at Ropewalk Chambers and Amy Woolfson who is a Barrister at Five Street Andrew’s Hill. They were both ex Open University Law students and they gave great feedback to all the finalists.

For the final, I was partnered with Dan Mander and we received such positive feedback which we can use in the future. All the finalists did such a great job. The previous Master and Mistress of the Moots, Charlotte Elizabeth and Johnny Martin, organised the event very well and made it fun.

If anyone is considering mooting in the future, do it! You have nothing to lose and will gain so much by competing,

Written By: Zoe Martin

OULS News Reporter

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