In a bid to achieve the objective of cross fertilization of ideas amongst counsel, the Lagos State Ministry of Justice on Wednesday organized a moot court competition for state counsel at the Treasury Resource Centre, Debt Management Office, Alausa, Ikeja.
The one-day mock court proceedings had state counsel of the ministry of Justice, prosecuting and defending cases towards honing their budding advocacy skills. The proceedings were presided over by a Judge.
Through serious civil-related cases scenario created by the organizers, the moot court session provided an opportunity to promote and encourage enhanced dialogue and practical understanding amongst the various components of the justice system process.
In his address, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN, noted that a moot court session is very informative due to the fact that it gives first-hand experience of court sessions to the participants by drawing expertise of colleagues from different fields and by strengthening the relationship between state counsel and the court.
“Mooting is an excellent skill which is capable of assisting law officers to think and analyse in the style of an advocate, looking for loose threads, analysing legal logic and presenting conclusions in an accurate and effective manner”
Onigbanjo noted that he is biased when it comes to advocacy in court which he stated with displeasure has now become a dying act in the justice system.
“It gladdens my heart that I’ll be witnessing the next Fawehinmi’s today and i wish all participants the best today as we proceed”.
During the break session of the moot court, the commissioner advised participants of the competition that knowledge of the law is the foundation of confidence. “You must know the law”. He noted that while presenting cases in court, it is of utmost importance that a counsel presents his or her strongest point first, as this will prove to the judge that the counsel knows what he or she is doing.
Onigbanjo also urged state counsel to be audible when speaking with the intention to arrest the attention of the judge and the court.
The Attorney General congratulated the winners and other participants of the competition while noting that advocacy requires preparation and unshakable confidence, as this will prove to the judge and court that the counsel knows what he or she is trying to achieve.
According to the presiding judge, mooting can improve written and oral communication skills of counsel as well as keep them abreast of new trends thereby enhancing their capabilities and skills to effectively discharge their responsibilities as counsel.
The presiding judge noted that advocacy skills can prove highly advantageous for individuals in various situations, which enables them to solve a wide range of problems faced by the society that envelopes them.
“However, this is possible only if an individual masters the various advocacy skills that can help them to gain better control over the given situation and problems, in order to solve them effectively”
“Some of these advocacy skills includes presentation, research, teamwork, taking the lead, drafting, networking, analysis and above all communication skills (oral and written)”.
In her remarks, The Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary, Ms. Titilayo Shitta-bey, stated that it is not uncommon to not be fully prepared before coming to the court. She said that 90% of case preparation happens in the chambers.
“I understand that some of us have so many cases to deal with on a daily basis, but it is imperative for us to always make time to be 70% prepared at least before appearing in court”.
“So far, I’m impressed by the participants and i look forward to how this ends”.
The participants expressed the unique opportunity the moot court presented in “creating the interface involving the judge, defense counsel, prosecutors and investigators” while noting that as the presiding judge put it, the moot court “will certainly improve the communication between the various sectors in the justice administration”.
Equally, the session encouraged the exchange and development of constructive ideas and suggestions for addressing some of the key practical challenges relating to civil matters.
The winners of the moot court competition were; Best Male Advocate – Mr. Dehinde Azeez, Best Female Advocate – Mrs Adetutu Adeusi and others.
Also in attendance were Directors, State Counsel, Lawyers and other members of staff of the Ministry.