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Sofia University Team Wins Top Prize in the Biggest EU Central and Eastern Europe Moot Court Competition

Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” hosted the biggest EU Central and Eastern Europe Moot Court Competition. The final phase of the competition was in Lecture Theatre 272 of the Rectorate and consisted of two parts – preliminary written submissions and oral pleadings. The first place went to our Alma mater’s team including Zlatina Gadzheva, Mariela Bogdanova, Ana Petrova and Alexander Leshev. Their coaches were Stilyana Ivanova and Tsvetelina Bayraktarova.

The competition was organized jointly with the British Law Centre, the Faculty of Law at Sofia University and the Association of International Law Competitions. More than 120 students, divided in 18 teams and from universities of 11 countries participated in the event. The countries included the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, and Bulgaria.

This year’s guests of honour and jury of the oral pleadings were Eleanor Sharpston (UK), Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Union, Alexander Kornezov, Judge at the Court of Justice of the European Union, Mikal Bobek, Advocate General of the Czech Republic at the Court of Justice of the EU, Professor Dr Nikolay Natov of Sofia University, Alexander Dorich, a Sofia University alumnus, former competitor and coach of the teams participating in СЕЕМС and presently a referent at the EU and some other leading specialists in the domain.


According to the coaches the success of our team was due to the team spirit and the knowledge displayed; the latter were the result of their preparation, i.e. what is not part of the academic syllabus, and the process included the ability to argue their defense both on behalf of the plaintiff and of the defendant, and then submit orally the motivation in a convincing way. Such international competitions present an opportunity for the students to compare themselves with members of other teams from other countries and see for themselves that their argumentation coincides with the standpoint of the jury. In the words of Stilyana Ivanova and Tsvetelina Bayraktarova, in this way the students get satisfaction and acquire self-confidence to also cope with the written composition of prejudicial requests, standpoints of an Advocate General, and drafts of court rulings.

In the Bulgarian team coaches’ words, the victory came as a result of hard preparatory work, the identification of the most challenging arguments by referring to the relevant European law framework and also by relating the facts to the specifically assigned case. The Sofia University students laid emphasis on the optimal presentation of the legal arguments in the oral pleadings, their coaches added.


This annual competition included tens of students from universities in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and many other countries. Since 1997 every new edition of the competition has been taking place in a different country in Central and Eastern Europe. Sofia has hosted the competition twice since 2010. Sofia University was a winner in 2011; in 2015 and in 2016 it reached the finals.

The working language of the competition is English and the objective is to work out a case of EU law consisting of two parts -- written submissions and oral pleadings. In the former preliminary part the teams are expected to prepare and send a written case study. The latter final part of the competition consists of oral pleadings of the teams which are spread over several consecutive days in the host city. The teams are to face each other in eliminatory rounds in front of a jury including some of the best experts in the domain of EU law, having judges, advocate generals and referents from the Court at Luxemburg and university lecturers from Cambridge University in their midst.

The finals of the competition are the most prestigious and exciting part of the event. The jury hears, inquires into, presses the respective team participants to demonstrate not merely knowledge of the EU legal matter but also solid rhetorical competence and ability to defend and argue legally theses in a stressful situation at a court hearing. The students acquire such knowledge and skills during their preparation and participation. Still they have the exceptional opportunity to “clash” with their peers from foreign countries and see where they stand in terms of level of preparation, knowledge and skills.

Apart from the prestige of participating in the competition, the participants had the opportunity to establish contacts and lay the basis of their future educational and professional career. Former participants in the competition are highly reputable lawyers, faculty and judges, working in leading institutions and lawyers’ offices round the world.

The organizer of the competition is a British NGO, the British Law Centre, which, for over a decade has been undertaking educational initiatives in the domain of English Law and EU Law in Central and Eastern Europe, with the participation of scholars from Cambridge University.