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The Third Annual Western Balkans Vis Pre-Moot Competition Kicked Off this Weekend in Pristina

The Third Annual Western Balkans Vis Pre-Moot Competition Kicked Off this Weekend in PristinaPhoto by: The USAID Contract Law Enforcement (CLE) Program

In a welcome reception held on Thursday, February 23, 2017, USAID Kosovo Acting Mission Director, Mike de la Rosawelcomed participating teams and arbitrators to the Third Annual Western Balkans Vis Pre-Moot Competition. Remarks were also delivered by Arber Reci, Secretary General of ILIRIA College; Arian Zeka, Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo (AmCham), and Kujtim Kerveshi, Managing Partner at Judex Law Firm. The event gathered representatives from the Republic of Kosovo, the U.S. Government, eminent lawyers from Kosovo and the region, and law students from Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Germany.

ILIRIA College, the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo (AmCham), University of Pristina - Faculty of Law, and the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce (KCC), with support from the USAID Contract Law Enforcement (CLE) Program hosted and organized the two day competition, held from Friday, February 24 to Saturday, February 25. For the first time, the Pre-Moot was not funded by the USAID Contract Law Enforcement (CLE) Program, but rather primarily by members of the Kosovo legal community and with the support from international law firms. This year, the Pre-Moot was funded by the generous contributions from AmCham (Platinum Sponsor), Judex Law Firm (Platinum Sponsor), WilmerHale (Gold Sponsor), and I.O.T. (Regular Sponsor). This is a major accomplishment as the Pre-Moot is now sustainable without donor funding; the optimal outcome in the development field.

The competition is modeled after the international Willem C. Vis Moot that is held in Vienna every year.

During the Pre-Moot, teams from universities across the region compete against each other in a series of rounds, that are judged by practicing lawyers and arbitrators, many of whom are Vis alumni. This year, participating teams included: University of National and World Economy in Sofia, Bulgaria; University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje, Macedonia; University of FAU Erlangen in Nurnberg, Germany; Sofia University St.Kliment Ohridski in Bulgaria; University of Tirana, Albania; and University of Prishtina-Faculty of Law.

A total of 21 rounds were held, which were judged by a total of 48 arbitrators who volunteered their time. The rounds are judged by practicing lawyers and arbitrators, many of whom are Vis alumni. The judges also provide feedback-both on substantive law and style, to allow students to fine tune their presentations in advance of the international competition in Vienna.

The Pre-Moot concluded with a closing ceremony on Saturday where the Vice Dean of University of Pristina-Faculty of Law announced the Winning Team and Best Oralist, and handed out certificates to all the participants. The winning team was Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski and the Best Oralist was Lia Harizanova, also from the same team.The Closing Ceremony concluded with the closing remarks delivered by the President of ILIRIA College.

In addition to providing a forum for students to sharpen their practical legal skills before the international competition in Vienna, the Pre-Moot facilitates a cross-cultural exchange between law students from the Western Balkans and Europe. The Pre-Moot also contributes towards increasing awareness regarding the availability of arbitration as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism that is faster and cheaper than the courts, benefiting the legal and business communities.

Arian Zeka, Executive Director of the AmCham, which was both a Platinum Sponsor and a co-organizer of the event states that "AmCham believes that the future of commercial law in Kosovo, an important and growing area of law, rests with the young generation of lawyers, a generation which will, among others, contribute towards the expansion of the pool of local experienced arbitrators. This is the reason behind our support to events like the Annual Western Balkans Vis Pre-Moot where students get the best out of their university curricula and sharpen their advocacy skills." The AmCham also supports legal education for law students through the Arbitration Academy for students interested in commercial arbitration and the publication of the ADR Journal.

Kujtim Kerveshi, Managing Partner of Judex Law Firm, a Platinum sponsor of this event, noted that he and his firm “support a number of university student competitions in arbitration and commercial mediation, in particular such events like the Annual Western Balkans Vis Pre-Moot. One of the Pre-Moot outcomes is that it increases Kosovo’s visibility in the region, and highlights the commitment to developing a new generation of young, well-trained legal professionals in the area of commercial arbitration.” In an effort to train and mentor young lawyers, Judex also observed the rounds to select a student for a prestigious internship at the law firm.

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