Hillcrest Alumni, Kate van Bruggen, shines in Bond University Mooting Competition

Senior Learning Community Monday 13 February 2017

Congratulations to Hillcrest’s 2016 Dux and Bond University Vice Chancellor Full Scholarship Winner, Kate van Bruggen, who has stunned the students and staff of Bond University’s Law Faculty, as well as an eminent Queensland Supreme Court Justice, by partnering with another first year Law student to win through to the Grand Final of the junior section (comprising Bond Law students in their first three semesters of their degree) of the annual Bond University Moot Competition, in which 150 Law students competed.

Held over two days last week (8th and 9th February), the competition is seen as a stepping stone to representing Bond University throughout Australia and in international moot competitions across the globe. Kate and her moot partner, Zuzana, a fellow Vice Chancellor Scholarship recipient from the Gold Coast, who have both been studying Law for only a month, are being hailed as the new ‘dream team’ of mooting at Bond University!

All of the 150 Law students participated in the heats on Wednesday, 8th February. The moot problem was released one week prior to this and involved a dispute between an applicant seeking admission into legal practice and the Queensland Legal Practitioners Admissions Board which deemed him not a "fit and proper person" to be a legal practitioner due to an act of plagiarism during his legal education and a criminal conviction for stealing.

Kate and Zuzana found out at 6 o’clock that evening that they had won through to the Semi-Finals, which were to take place at 9 o’clock the next morning, but there was a catch - they had to switch sides from representing the Respondent (the Admissions Board) in the heat to arguing on behalf of the Appellant (the rejected applicant) in their semi-final. This meant that they had to completely re-write their submissions in one night. In Kate’s understated words, they “went into the moot the next day a little tired!”

The judges for the Semi-Final were two Bond Law professors who hammered Kate and the other top mooters with complicated legal questions. At midday the same day, Kate and Zuzana were informed that they had made it to the Grand Final and had to switch back to arguing for the Respondent at 2 o’clock that afternoon. The mock courtroom was packed with Bond Law students and professors. There were three judges in the Grand Final, one of whom was the President of the Queensland Court of Appeal, President McMurdo.

According to Kate, the Grand Final was “… definitely one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life, especially when the President of the Queensland Court of Appeal bombarded me with questions on my application of the law to the facts of the case.” Although they didn’t win the Grand Final against much more experienced students in their third semester of Law, Kate and her partner were “stoked” to have progressed so far in the competition.

The three Grand Final judges couldn't believe that Kate and Zuzana are in their first semester of Law. The Head of the Bond University Mooting Program, Louise Parsons, forwarded an email to them which stated, "Justice McMurdo also asked me to pass on that she was absolutely gob-smacked and in a state of disbelief when she heard that you are only in your first semester. I think that is an amazing compliment - in fact none of the judges had any idea that you were so new in your Law degree." Kate also spoke to Justice McMurdo after the moot, who was very impressed and told her that she has a fantastic career in Law ahead which, in Kate’s view, “… made the stresses of the previous 24 hours worthwhile.”