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Public Interest Law Moot Court Competition

CALS is proud to partner with the Student Litigation Society (SLS) to host the Public Interest Law Moot Court Competition. We invite law students from any university in South Africa to participate

While South Africa has seen significant gains since transitioning to a constitutional democracy, there is still much work to be done to ensure true equality and social justice for all. South Africa needs a new generation of human rights lawyers with the energy, ingenuity and skill to respond to the ongoing socioeconomic and political fallout from the issues we still face today. The Public Interest Law Moot Court Competition aims to expand the social justice sector by introducing law students to the prospects of a fulfilling career in public interest law.

Competition objectives 

  1. Offer public interest litigation as a viable and fulfilling career option for law students
  2. Assist law students interested in human rights law to build skills in research, writing, analysis and oration 
  3. Supplement the law curriculum by giving participants the opportunity to grapple with complex and emergent human rights issues while using a constitutional lens 
  4. Provide an opportunity to model both the soft and hard skills at the core of litigating in the public interest 
  5. Provide participants with the opportunity to build a community with fellow students interested in public interest lawyering 
  6. Introduce participants to the wide variety of organisations and individuals doing work in the public interest sector 
  7. Deepen students’ understanding of South Africa’s history which underpins present structural inequalities, poverty, and discrimination whose dismantling lies at the heart of public interest lawyering 

About the organisers  

The Centre of Applied Legal Studies (CALS) is a public interest law organisation based at the Wits School of Law. CALS is also a law clinic registered with the Legal Practice Council. As such, our organisation connects the worlds of academia and social justice through research, advocacy and litigation.

The Student Litigation Society (SLS) advances practical legal education at an undergraduate level with the aim of equipping students and prospective legal practitioners with the skills required in the legal profession. Find out more about the Student Litigation Society

Follow #PILMOOT on Facebook and Twitter to follow the developments of the competition.

Watch the video below for highlights from the final rounds of the 2021/2022 PIL Moot Court Competition. 

2022 / 2023 Moot Court Theme

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies and Student Litigation Society are partnering this year with the Water Research Commission to host the third annual Public Interest Law Moot Court Competition. This year, the Competition returns with a hypothetical case that focuses on access to water and water rights. 

In an increasingly intersecting world, it has become necessary for different disciplines to work more closely in finding solutions to the challenges facing the globe. This year’s competition prepares both law and science students for interdisciplinary collaborations that are pertinent to their future as practitioners. 


The Competition gives students the opportunity to showcase their skills by working on a hypothetical case which brings together questions around water rights, the rights of mining communities to access water, the responsibilities of the state and mines, in the face of climate change and continued violations in South Africa’s extractive industries.

Legal Practitioners

In the opening rounds of the Competition, law students are required to submit heads of argument on the hypothetical set of facts. We are seeking the assistance of legal practitioners to assess our participants' heads of argument. You will be given a score sheet which you will use to assess the written submissions. If you are interested in being an assessor, please fill out the legal practitioner form and contribute to building the next generation of public interest lawyers!

Scientific Experts 

In the opening rounds of the Competition, science students are required to submit expert reports on the feasibility of constructing a water dam in a region that is affected by mining activities and climate change. The reports will include details on water supply and the effectiveness of a purification plant in resolving a water crisis. 

We are seeking the assistance of scientists and water experts to assess our participants' scientific reports. You will be given a score sheet which you will use to assess the reports. If you are interested in being an assessor, please fill out the expert form and contribute to building the next generation of water experts! 

Participant Information

Eligibility Requirements 

Students taking Law or BSc courses in their second to fifth year at any university in South Africa may enter. Each participating team must comprise of two (2) law students registered with the same university. All participating science students must register as individuals. The top 32 science students will be allocated to the top 32 teams of law students.

Prospective participants are required to acquaint themselves with the eligibility requirements contained in the Competition Rules before registering.

Information Pack

The Participation Information Pack contains this year's hypothetical case along with the competition rules. Prospective participants MUST ensure that they download this document as its contents will enable you to successfully participate in the competition.

Download a copy of the information pack


Law students from the winning team will have the opportunity to be preferentially considered for a fully paid internship at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies. The winning science student will get a two-week internship with Water Aid. 

Competition Timeline

18 August 2022: Registration opens, hypothetical case released and clarification-seeking period begins 

18 September 2021: Registration closes

14 October 2021: clarification-seeking period ends 


15 November 2022: Deadline for heads of argument (law students) 

29 November 2022: Deadline for expert report (science students) 

15 December 2022: Release of shortlist of top 32 teams and court directives issued 

13 January 2023: Deadline for supplementary written submissions


13 February 2023: Announcement of top 16 teams 

22 – 23 March 2023: Virtual oral rounds 

SEMIFINALS (4 teams)

27 March 2022: Announcement of semi-finalists

25 April 2022: Oral submissions 

FINALS (2 teams)

25 April 2022: Announcement of finalists

26 April 2022: Oral submissions