It may come as no surprise to those who know them, but a team of students from Sydney's The Scots College have put forward the most persuasive argument to beat 100 schools from across Australia for top honours at the Bond University High School Mooting Competition.
The Scots College trio - Tom Hodgson, Oliver Oayda and Emlyn Evans - edged out the largest and most competitive field in the nationwide competition's 29-year history to claim the number one spot, with Tom also awarded the prestigious Overall Outstanding Oralist Award.
Brisbane's Citipointe Christian College was the runner-up, followed by Adelaide's St Peter's Girls' School and Perth's Presbyterian Ladies College, with a total of 14 teams competing in the two-day Grand Final at the private, independent Gold Coast University this month (1-2 June).
The Year 11 and 12 students battled it out in front of some of Australia's most respected legal minds - including Queensland Supreme Court's the Honourable Justice Robert Gotterson AO and retired District Court of Queensland Judge John Newton - who challenged their arguments and put their oral advocacy skills to the test.
Bond University Faculty of Law Director of Mooting, Assistant Professor Louise Parsons, said the students rose to the challenge of arguing a real-world case in the realistic setting of Bond University's moot courtrooms and in front of some of the country's toughest judges.
"When listening to the level of intellectual discussion taking place during the competition you really have to step back and remember these students are just 15, 16 or 17 years of age," she said.
"The arguments they put forward were extremely sophisticated and showed a real insight and understanding of complex matters, including the appeals process, liability and public policy.
"The winner is ultimately the team that presents the facts in the best possible way, not necessarily the case that may win in a real courtroom.
"We decided to award a third and fourth place for the first time this year, due to the extremely high calibre of competition."
Assistant Professor Parsons said information relating to the 'case' was released to the students at the start of March, giving them time to prepare their best arguments.
"To display the level of understanding they did requires a significant amount of time, analysis and research," she said.
"They would have put in a number of late nights, missed social opportunities and worked over the school holidays to prepare.
"The experience gained through this competition is second to none. It is a great way to develop strong oral advocacy skills and resilience, which are qualities that bode well for a wide variety of careers.
"Standing in front of a judge is a very daunting experience and, while the questions posed in the grand final round were significantly tougher than during the preliminary rounds, all of the students thrived on the challenge.
"Many commented they had not seriously considered a career in law until this, and that they had not realised just how challenging and interesting the law can be."
Bond University High School Mooting Competition 2018 Grand Final winners:
- First place: The Scots College (Sydney)
- Runner-up: Citipointe Christian College (Brisbane)
- Third place: St Peter's Girls’ School (Adelaide)
- Fourth place: Presbyterian Ladies College (Perth)
- Brisbane State High School, Brisbane
- Camberwell Girls Grammar School, Melbourne
- Emmanuel College, Gold Coast
- Fairholme College, Toowoomba
- Heights College, Rockhampton
- Pymble Ladies’ College, Sydney
- Seymour College, Adelaide
- Scotch College, Adelaide
- Somerset College, Gold Coast
- Somerville House, Brisbane
Overall Outstanding Oralist Award: Tom Hodgson (The Scots College)
- Antiga Jones (Citipointe Christian College)
- Sara Possingham (St Peter's Girls’ School)