Digital competition, real challenges

Pre-Moot São Paulo successfully holds its first edition in virtual format; the competition brings together 40 teams from Brazil and abroad

By Sérgio Siscaro

The last weekend of February was special for the Brazilian community that works with alternative methods for the resolution of disputes (ADRs). From February 27th to 28th, CAM-CCBC promoted the first fully virtual edition of the São Paulo Pre-Moot, with the participation of 40 teams, from Brazil and six other countries. The event, held every year, prepares the winners for the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot (Vis Moot), which will take place from March 27 to April 1. Traditionally held in Vienna (Austria), Vis Moot will also be promoted virtually, on account of the new coronavirus pandemic.

Besides having gathered four more teams than in the 2020 edition, São Paulo Pre-Moot received a record volume of registrations: 70 teams demonstrated interest in taking part of the contest. In addition, 164 arbitrators were virtually present at the pre-moot, and the number of online participants during the event was quite significant. “We had about 300 people logged in at the pre-moot. That is a lot of people! Furthermore, we registered only a few external factors that could affect the competition. In the end, everything turned out better than we expected. The Information Technology (IT) team, and the organisation, took great care to make the event run as smoothly as possible”, evaluates the Institutional Development assessor of CAM-CCBC, Ana Flávia Furtado.

General Secretariat’s assessor, Vitoria Suman Campos, agrees: “The logistics of the pre-moot were designed so that everything would go along smoothly for the participants. Besides a very dedicated team for the competition, we had the support of the staff from the Executive Secretariat and other Center staff. It was a very engaged team, which allowed everyone not to miss out on what was happening at the event”, she said. “The organisation’s role was to explain how the event would work to the participants, so that everything would run in the most efficient way possible”, adds Furtado.

Competitions like Pre-Moot São Paulo are particularly important, because they provide their participants with the opportunity of performing in arbitration cases, under conditions that are close to reality. Additionally, they are a great opportunity to exchange contacts with professionals who are already working in the market.

In other editions, CAM-CCBC awarded the winners with cash prizes, in order to fund their trip to the Vis Moot in Vienna, and the Vis East Moot, held in Hong Kong (China). As these events will also be held remotely, the Center has chosen to convert these awards into academic experiences, such as a Comparative Law course taught by Professor Schwenzer, gift cards to purchase books, summer courses, and e-readers.

Cutting-edge arbitrators

As in other years, the São Paulo Pre-Moot 2021 stood out again for the choice of arbitrators that participated of the event, including at this time, three professionals with vast international experience: Diego Arroyo, Professor at Sciences Po, Paris (France), and an expert in international dispute resolution. Ingeborg Schwenzer, Professor in Private and Comparative law at the University of Basel (Switzerland), and Lucy Greenwood, independent international arbitrator specialized in commercial and investment disputes. This edition also included a partnership with the Brazilian branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb), which contributed to calling the arbitrators for the pre-moot. “The virtual format ensured the participation of arbitrators with very different experiences, which contributed to the diversity of the event”, says Campos.

The diversity of the arbitrators who participated in the event caught the attention of Julie Griebler, coach of the UFRGS team, which won the competition. “They have different experiences, and distinct views. In this respect, it was a very enriching experience”, she evaluates. Lucas Gavronski, also the team’s coach, complements this by highlighting the fact that the arbitrators come from different legal traditions, which contributed to giving the pre-moot participants a broad overview. “The panel of the final, with Professor Ingeborg Schwenzer, is an example of this: she is German, lives in Switzerland, and is, probably, the world’s foremost authority on the Vienna Convention. Professor Diego Arroyo is a professional from Argentina who has long been a reference in Paris, and Professor Lucy Greenwood is a renowned lawyer in UK. This variety makes all the difference, because it is in fact what we will find on the market”, he affirms.

Two decades of tradition

The winning team of the Pre-Moot São Paulo 2021 was the team from Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), which had as coaches Lucas Gavronski and Julie Griebler – both with experience in previous competitions. The team was formed by Achilles Steinhaus, Ana Júlia Schenkel, Catharina Pizzio Gonzales da Cunha, Giovana Etcheverry, Helena Chagas, Lorenzo Galan Miranda, Lucas Armani Tomazi, Natália Anchete Vicente, and Vitória Kreutz Werle. The UFRGS team already has a long history: the first group to participate in arbitration competitions was formed about 20 years ago by Professor Vera Fradera and was one of the first in South America to participate in the Vis Moot in Vienna.

Gavronski considered the pre-moot to be an “extremely high quality” training session, by providing optimal preparation for international competitions. “We feel very grateful for the opportunity of participating in what is the main event in Brazil, in this cycle of preparation for the Vis Moot”, he stated. Besides having participated in other editions of Pre-Moot São Paulo, Gravronski has also participated in past editions of Pre-Moot Hamburg, Germany (which is held with the support of CAM-CCBC). “Attending the São Paulo Pre-Moot is essential for any team that has ambitions to achieve good results at the Vienna Vis Moot.”

Experienced in using the digital format, having participated in competitions that already adopted this format last year, the members of the UFRGS team had no trouble adapting to it. But that did not stop the inevitable nervousness from arising, when it was time to take part in the tests. “This will always exist, whether in face-to-face or virtual format. What we really have is a completely different experience. The transition back to the face-to-face model will be an interesting experience”, says participant Lorenzo Miranda. On the other hand, Vitória Werle emphasizes that the remote model has not affected her negatively. “I think it even eases the tension a little bit. Being in a room, face to face with representatives of the other party, or with the arbitrators, causes more nervousness”, she says.

Coach Gavronski points out that the virtual model allowed a larger number of teams, many of them from other countries, so that the final was played with a team from the University of Lisbon (Portugal). “Certainly, the digital pre-moot format contributed so we could have this international final, with the participation of renowned arbitrators from other countries, who certainly could not participate in person, because of the pandemic”, he affirms.

“It was an honor and a happiness to reach the final of the CAM-CCBC pre-moot, such a renowned arbitral tribunal of international scope. And I would also like to highlight the excellent organization of the event”, concludes Giovana Etcheverry.