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The International Air Law Moot Court takes online to the next level

Like many moot court competitions around the world, the Leiden-Sarin International Air Law Moot Court Competition was conducted fully online this year. The International Air Law Moot Court is an unparalleled forum for bringing together students and aviation professionals who share a passion for air law, the organisers set themselves the task to raise the bar at a time when connecting people seems ever-more important.

The International Institute of Air and Space Law (IIASL) of Leiden University is responsible for the organisation of the Air Law Moot Court, together with its founding partner, the Sarin Memorial Legal Aid Foundation of Chandigarh, India. The competition takes place every year in a different host city. After cancelling the oral rounds of the 11th edition in 2020, and postponing twice the decision to move the competition in 2021 online, the organisers were determined to make this edition stand out.

The new Air Law Moot Court website

New website

Already developed in collaboration with Est Digital in 2020, this year’s circumstances provided the perfect momentum to launch the new website. The website is a showcase for the IIASL and helps to promote the Air Law Moot Court to a larger audience and to get more people involved.

More importantly, the website offers a secured environment where participants, upon logging in, can find the overall schedule, a personalised overview of their pleading sessions, including access links to the online court sessions, and the related case documents and teams’ memorials.


With teams and judges located in different time zones, ranging from the US to the far east in China, facilitating social interaction online is quite the challenge. The team came up with alternatives, such as a welcome video to replace a plenary opening and to provide instructions, an online meeting space for judges before, in between and after each round, and an online Sponsor’s Lounge instead of a gala evening to announce the finalist.

These social elements took place in SpatialChat, a platform that simulates real-life conversations by being able to freely move around the room and interact and chat with those close by you. Through the platform it was even possible to project the Youtube live stream of the finals, enabling participants to watch the finals and closing ceremony together.

The 12th Air Law Moot Court Competition

A total of 42 teams participated in the 12th edition of the Air Law Moot Court Competition, with national pre-selection rounds for China, India and Russia. During the semi-finals on 19 and 20 May 2021, 16 teams from around the world argued their case in a series of online rounds.

Interesting fact: Elements of this year’s case included an endangered civilian aircraft, the diversion to an alternate airport, political asylum and the responsibility of States to provide air navigational facilities and services, some of which are relevant in the context of recent events.. Interested? Read the full (fictional) moot court case here.

The Leiden team, composed of Jan-Pieter Heijstek, Evelyne Deldycke and Tuvana Aras of the Adv. LLM in Air and Space Law and coached by Annemarie Schuite and Ayberk Dülgeroğlu, alumni of the same programme, came in 3rd and 4th place for the Applicant and Respondent side, respectively.

The finals took place on 21 May between Team 26 of the Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow, India as Applicant and Team 75 of the Chinese University of Hong Kong as Respondent. The finals were presided by Prof. Regula Dettling-Ott, Chair of the Performance Review Body of the EU Single European Sky, with the other judges being Mr Michael Whitaker, former Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Dr Jiefang Huang, Director, Legal Affairs and External Relations Bureau of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The judges declared Team 26 as winner of the 12th Air Law Moot Court Competition

After tough deliberations, the judges declared Team 26 as winner of the 12th Air Law Moot Court Competition. Team 23 of the National University of Singapore won the awards for both Best Memorial Applicant and Respondent. Watch the finals and closing ceremony here.

During the closing ceremony, Niall Buissing, Director of the International Air Law Moot  Court, while congratulating the winners and thanking his colleagues Jin Choi, Natascha Meewisse and the other partners, said: 'This year’s online Moot Court has truly been unique, one of a kind, and while successful, I really do hope that next year, we may finally meet in person again.'

Anushka Singh, member of the winning team, thanked the organisers 'for this enriching experience', and continued, 'The rounds were very smooth and even for a moment we did not feel a disconnect with the judges. From the time of the welcome video till the announcement of the results, it was an incredibly organised event.'

Meanwhile, looking ahead to brighter times, preparations for the next edition have already started. Sign up for email updates to be the first to find out soon where and when the competition will take place next year.

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