Meet Dr. Nicole Stremlau, organiser at Price Media Law Moot Court

Dr. Nicole Stremlau

Dr. Nicole Stremlau is Head of the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy and a Research Fellow in the Centre of Socio-Legal Studies and is responsible for organizing the Price Media Law Moot Court Competition.

In this interview, Bar & Bench’s Shreya Vajpei talks to her about the organisation process behind the moot, and the success of the Price Media Law Moot Court Competition.

(Edited excerpts)

Shreya Vajpei: The Price Media Moot has in just the last decade created a reputation for itself. How was your journey as the organiser for the Moot?

Nicole Stremlau: I should start by saying that I am actually not a mooter.  But I am fascinated by the exercise and theatre of mooting. I think it is an extremely valuable tool for debating and discussing important issues. It trains students, and those judging or coaching them, to see multiple sides and arguments to an issue in an engaging way. There are no simple or easy answers to the issues that the Price moot explores, and they are often are dealing with issues on the cutting edge of technology.

I have now been involved with the moot for seven years and what really appeals to me is the ability of the moot to bring informed and effective debate and discussion on significant issues of information flows and technology, while raising the profile of freedom of expression and expanding the sway of international norms.

Shreya Vajpei: What is the structure of the organising committee for Price Media Moot Court Competition?

Nicole Stremlau: Over the last few years the Price Moot network has really grown and thrived. We really try to encourage those that have competed to stay in touch and stay engaged- to come back as a coach, or an oral rounds judge in one of the regional rounds or in the international rounds.

It is wonderful because many of the members of our organizing team are former competitors.  Nevena Krivokapic, for example, who supports the regional rounds is from the winning team in 2011, the University of Belgrade.

We also work with many DPhil students at Oxford to support the organization and judging of the preliminary rounds, many of whom have been extremely successful mooters themselves.  The South Asia rounds have been one of our strongest rounds, thanks very much of the support of NLU Delhi and the many talented academics there.

Just this year, for example, we were delighted to have one faculty member from NLU Delhi travel to China to support the Asia Pacific Rounds and a student came to Oxford to join our organizing team.  We very much like to see the exchange of talent across the regional rounds, it helps to build the community and also helps different rounds learn different ways of  holding the oral rounds.

Shreya Vajpei: What is the process of conducting the Moot Court Competition? How do you find sponsors?

Nicole Stremlau: We hold International Rounds in Oxford every year at the end of March or early April.  But prior to the International Rounds there is a series of Regional Rounds that take place in Afghanistan, India, Serbia, Egypt, the US and China. Just this year Ukraine started a regional pre-moot that we hope will grow into a fully-fledged regional round.

All of the regional rounds are run by local universities and we seek to support them wherever possible.  It is a great initiative for universities to build a programme around the teaching of media and internet law.

Finding sponsors is always challenging but we have been fortunate in India to have had great support from law firms such as Amarchand and AZB and technology and media companies such as Google and StarTV.  It is very much in the interest of sponsors to get involved because if they have international ambitions they are able to not only have access to global talent but they are also able to raise the profile of their company or service with a diverse group of lawyers and judges.

Shreya Vajpei: In your opinion, how does mooting benefit a law student especially in a niche subject such as Comparative Media Law?

Nicole Stremlau: We do not think of media law as a niche but as one of the most defining topics of our time!  The Price Moot Court deals with extremely pressing public policy issues across societies such as  online hate speech and violent extremism.

Students must do extensive research on cases and law relating to freedom of expression and often spend months preparing. This process offers students, as well as their professors and coaches, who often also have little existing experience in media/ICT law, the opportunity to learn about a subject that very few universities teach.

It has followed through with participating law schools to encourage additional scholarship, training and clinical development.  The moot competitions themselves are accompanied by symposiums on local freedom of expression issues, helping participants to connect the international and ‘hypothetical’ issues to the local challenges and contexts their regions are grappling with.

Shreya Vajpei: As the Head of PCMLP you are also responsible for reaching out to various universities, law firms and media companies in Asia and Africa. In your interaction, did you notice any stark differences between the institutions in India and elsewhere?

Nicole Stremlau: I have been extremely impressed by the talented and enthusiastic students at Indian law schools.  A number of past competitors in the Price Moot from India have gone on to graduate degrees at Oxford which is wonderful to follow.

I have always been extremely impressed by the student organizers in India, the passion and attention to detail that the students at NLU Delhi give to organizing the moot has made it truly special and welcoming to teams from across India but also from the region.

Shreya Vajpei: With reference to Uganda and Ethopia, you have written about the political class using media to strengthen themselves. Any thoughts on media-politico relations in India? 

Nicole Stremlau: Yes, much of my research is on media and ICTs and politics in Africa.  There are many similarities and of course many differences with India.  For a while, I think many of the changes and trends we saw in Africa could first be seen in India, particularly with the use of mobile technologies.

But more recently Africa has also become a leader in innovation and has been, for example, pioneering in the development of mobile money. So we see an exchange of ideas and technologies both directions.