In December last year, 21 Law students from across nine Australian universities representing Team Australia won the 17th Intercollegiate Negotiation and Arbitration Competition. 

John Lidbetter, a third-year Bachelor of Laws and Actuarial Studies student at UNSW, was among them. 

“It was very exciting to be named the winner of the competition”, he says. 

“Everyone in the team had been working together so hard and it was a great feeling to see that effort rewarded.”

John stumbled across the competition on a Facebook post from the UNSW Law Society page, only a couple of days before deadline. 

Entry for the first round of selection required a cover letter, CV and academic transcript.

“I was asked what interested me about the competition and was given a couple hypothetical negotiation scenarios to work with. 

“A month or so later I was lucky enough to receive an email saying that I got a position on the team.”

The mooting competition is hosted annually in Tokyo. It involves a negotiation and an arbitration against teams from around the world, including South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong.  

Team Australia received the Squire Patton Boggs Award for the highest score in English-language Negotiation and won the competition outright by 12 points, a first for the team. 

John competed in both the negotiation and arbitration rounds. 

“I really enjoy negotiation competitions. I also liked that the competition combined negotiation and arbitration rounds. 

“I hadn’t had any experience in an arbitration competition before and I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn some new skills.

“The competition also appealed to me because it was hosted in Tokyo, which meant I would have a chance to travel to a place I’ve never visited before.”

Winning the competition was no walk in the park. Prior to the event, Team Australia trained extensively from March up until November last year. They even travelled to Canberra on two occasions for face-to-face training.

“The team came from all over Australia and so it was necessary for us to meet each other and train in person,” John explains.

“It was here [in Canberra] that the sub-teams were formed based on who would work well together. 

“We also practised and trained our oral submissions – learning how to present our arguments persuasively. 

“At the end of the day, we would go over logistical details regarding the trip to Japan. 

“It was very enjoyable and most nights we went to dinner and got to know each other better.”

The Intercollegiate Negotiation and Arbitration Competition is run by the Australian Network for Japanese Law (ANJeL) and Australian law students have been competing in Tokyo since 2005.