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What is a moot?

A moot is more than just getting up in front of judge and arguing your case. A lot of preparation and research needs to be done before you even stand up to speak. Make sure you’ve done the proper prep work beforehand, and your task will be much easier!

  • Know which team/side you are on and whether you are the senior/lead or junior counsel
  • Establish how much time you have to make your argument (usually 10 mins for junior counsel and 15 mins for senior)
  • Know the procedure set out in the rules for the moot
  • Understand your moot problem – read it, carefully! Make sure you are clear on the issues to be debated – what are the stated grounds of appeal, what are the key points of law?
  • Make a note of the facts of the case (a timeline can help too) – remember, you are disputing the points of law, not the facts!
  • Note any citations or legislation you need to research.

If you’ve done the preparation mentioned on the previous tab, you will have a good idea already of what your argument will be and where to start researching.


Background Reading

The first step will be to get a good understanding of the background for the legal topic at hand. A good textbook can be useful here, perhaps one of the core books listed on your reading list. This will give you an overview of the area of law in question, as well as highlighting some key cases and legislation.

Remember, you cannot cite textbooks or secondary sources in your moot – you must always refer to primary sources, and the more authoritative the better!


Cases and other authorities

Look up the case citations and legislation you have already identified in Westlaw or LexisLibrary.

Use Halsbury’s Laws of England to establish authoritative definitions and footnotes to further key cases and legislation. Halsbury’s is available in print in the Law Collection at Kedleston Road or online via Lexis (login to LexisLibrary, and then click on either Browse or Search for Halsbury’s in the Bookshelf column on the right).

When citing a case you should always refer to the version in the most reputable law report series you have access to – case citations are listed in order of authority, so always use the first one in the list, i.e. Law Reports (Appeal Cases, Family, Queens Bench etc) before the All-England Law Reports, Weekly Law Reports etc.

If you need to create a court bundle to take copies of cases with you to refer to in the moot, take photocopies of the print sources wherever possible. This is because formatting differences between online sources can affect the page numbering, and you want to make sure everyone is quite literally on the same page!


As you research, make a list of full case citations, legislation, textbook author/titles details, Halsbury’s entries etc. This will make it easier for you to refer back to and will help when drafting up your skeleton argument.

Before the moot you will need to submit to both the judges and the opposing counsel a skeleton argument and a list of authorities.

Skeleton argument

This is a short, structured list of what you are going to argue in the moot. It should be detailed enough for the judge to understand the content and direction of your argument but not too in-depth. It should also highlight which authorities (i.e. cases and legislation) you are going to use to support each point you make.

At the top of your skeleton argument you should include the party names, date of the case, the court and your roles, i.e. senior/junior counsel for respondent or appellant.

Your skeleton argument should be brief, no more than one A4 sheet of paper.


List of authorities

This should be a list of all the legislation and cases you are going to use the support your argument, with full citations.

Legislation should be listed first, followed by cases. You should not abbreviate legislation and must include section and sub-section numbers.

Cases should be in italics or underlined (consult the procedures or rules for your competition) and include the neutral citation (if there is one – neutral citations did not start being used until 2001) and then the report citation.

There is a good example of a skeleton argument and list of authorities at the following link: is a useful website with information and support for student mooters.

Search the library catalogue for ‘moot’ or ‘mooting’ – there are several useful textbooks available, including those below.