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Columbia Law School European Law Moot Court Team Wins Regional Round

Team Heads to Luxembourg for Finals before European Court of Justice

 

Media contact: Sonia von Gutfeld 212-854-1453 sgutfe@law.columbia.edu
Public Affairs Office 212-854-2650 publicaffairs@law.columbia.edu

New York, April 2, 2009 — Columbia Law School’s European Law Moot Court team won the regional competition in Bangor, Wales, and will advance to the finals before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. This marks the second year in a row that Columbia has advanced to the finals – and the third time an American team has reached that stage in the competition’s 20-year history.
 
Students Jan-Krzysztof Dunin-Wasowicz ’11, R. Peter Durning ’11, James Arthur Gray Jr. ’11, and Tomasz Gwara ’09 LL.M. represented Columbia, the only non-European team of the 12 competing at Bangor. Student Emmanuel Gastard ’10 is the team coach, and Professor George Bermann serves as faculty advisor.

This year’s problem, Prell AS v The Royal Treasury, concerns the tax liability of a public limited tobacco production company in a fictional European Union state. The case deals with issues of state aid and business law, which competitors must negotiate in the context of European Community law. Competitors plead three parts: defendant, applicant and commission. 

A coin toss in the final round determined that Dunin-Wasowicz would plead for the defendant. After almost two hours of arguments, during which time teammates served as co-chairs – researching the law on the spot and supplying Dunin-Wasowicz with notes if needed – the 10-judge panel declared Columbia the winner.

All team members argued in both English and French and drew high scores, prevailing against teams from European schools.
 
The challenge of arguing in a foreign language – two foreign languages in the case of Gwara, who hails from Warsaw, Poland – and gaining familiarity with a new legal system attracted the group of competitors.
 
“I view this project as an integral part of my training to become a lawyer fully qualified to practice between the United States and the European Union,” said Dunin-Wasowicz.

Gastard is a veteran competitor who represented Columbia last year in the Bangor regional round. He said he chose this moot court to learn more about EU law and gain skills arguing against teams from all over the world. He had such a good experience that he returned as a coach.

Columbia fielded two teams in the European Moot Law Competition this year. The first team took silver in the regional round in Sofia, Bulgaria, where it was the only non-European law school team of 12.

The Bangor team looks forward to a tough competition in Luxembourg, where they will argue against three top teams before the judges of the European Court of Justice, on April 22 and 23.
The European Law Moot Court is one of seven intermural moot courts that Columbia is competing in this year. More information is available here.
 
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