Results of the African Regional Rounds of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition

Simon Motshweni, Nicholas du Toit and Kgomela Letsoalo (L-R)

On the 3rd of July, 2020, the University of Pretoria was announced as the African Regional Round Winners of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition. This year’s competition was hosted by the Department of Trade & Industry (South Africa) and featured 5 participating universities. In addition to this, the University of Calabar (Nigeria) placed second, with three universities coming tie for third place, namely, the University of Benin (Nigeria), Makelle University (Ethiopia) and Niger Delta University (Nigeria).

The University of Pretoria team consisted of Nicholas du Toit (LLB III) and Kgomela Letsoalo (LLB III) who were coached by Simon Motshweni (LLB IV). Coach Simon Motshweni said ‘We are learning to celebrate our victories even when faced with a global pandemic. For the stars, we aim to reach, for space is our next destination’. He also expressed his appreciation to all those who were involved in the memorial preparation phase of the competition. A special thanks go to his former Coach, Ruvimbo Samanga and the Office of the Dean of Law. Overall, he is extremely proud of the team for this achievement.

Africa Emerges As Runner-Up At The Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot World Finals 2019

Since its inception by the International Institute of Space Law in 1992, the Competition has grown to cover four world regions: North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Africa. For the first time since joining in 2012, Africa, represented by a team from the University of Pretoria, (Simon Motshweni and Simon Botha led by Ruvimbo Samanga and Lawrence-John Maralack) won the World Finals in 2018.

The Competition is a simulation of a fictional dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations. The Competition aims to promote the interest, involvement and knowledge of space law among students by providing a fair and competitive environment for the exchange of thoughts and the deepening of understanding of space law. The competition encourages further development on the subject matter of space law in the curriculum of academic institutions and assists participating countries in developing technical legal capacity by preparing the next generation of space lawyers.

In its 2020 edition, the Competition places focus on a Case Concerning Jurisdiction and Control in Outer Space, Space Situational Awareness, and Orbital Debris. 

The Africa Regional Round is usually hosted in Pretoria, South Africa where student teams from universities in Africa compete to represent the continent at the World Finals which is customarily held on the side-line of the International Astronautical Congress (IAC). The 2020 World Finals would have taken place on 12-16 October 2020 on the side-lines of IAC at the Dubai World Trade Centre, United Arab Emirates. However, as a result of the global pandemic, COVID-19, the African Regional Rounds were assessed on the basis of Memorials (Heads of Arguments) submitted, and the World Rounds are also planned to continue virtually during this year’s IAC: Cyber Edition.