From 5th to 12th October, the Central and East European Moot Court Competition winners – the Warsaw University team – had the utmost pleasure to spend a week as guests of the University of Cambridge.We arrived at Luton airport feeling relaxed on one hand and excited on the other and continued our journey by bus which took us straight to Cambridge. To our satisfaction, it turned out that we were provided accommodation within the University’sinfrastructure:we were placed in guest rooms belonging to Cambridge Colleges. Two of us – Aleksandra and Jan – stayed as St John’s College guests while Adelina and Klaudia were hosted by Emmanuel’s College.
After leaving luggage in our rooms, all of us slightly intimidated by the surrounding atmosphere of 800 years old academic tradition , we rushed to meet professor William Cornish and his assistant Ann Smith. We received a very warm welcome and were familiarized with all the attractions that were organized for us for the upcoming week, starting immediately from a guided tour of the Cambridge Law Faculty Library – the Squire Library – given to us exclusively by David Wills, the Squire Law Librarian. We wandered along the endless rows of books, perplexed and slightly envious of the massive collection that was at Cambridge students’ disposal.
During our stay in Cambridge one of the undoubtedly most exciting attractions was the visit to London to see the new Supreme Court.As a consequence of a very fresh change in UK legal system it was now the Supreme Court that performed the judicial functions formerly assigned to the House of Lords. We therefore had the chance to visit a brand new institution, subject of a very long and fierce discussion in United Kingdom which had only operated for about a week!
First in the London schedule, however, was the visit to the Royal Court of Justice where we were invited by Carnwath LJ. His assistant – Ravinder Thukral gave us a quick tour of the beautiful and huge building of the Court. We followed him in the maze of long red carpeted corridors to finally get to one of the court rooms where we had the opportunity to see how real proceedings concerning the permission for an appeal looked like.
Mr Thukral then invited us for a lunch in the Lincoln’s Inn dining hall, normally only open for barristers and told us various back-stage stories of a barrister’s profession.
Finally, the time came to visit the Supreme Court. After a crazy drive in a London cab, we were received by one of the former House of Lords judges, now the Supreme Court judge – Lady Hale, who welcomed us warmly in her office, explained the major differences after the reform and answered all our questions. Although the meeting was extremely interesting, we had to let Lady Hale perform her duties. However, we were all invited to observe the proceedings Lady Hale was hearing and eagerly accepted the invitation to see how the last instance case before the panel of seven Lords looked like.
Back in Cambridge, in order for us to experience the academic atmosphere even more, Professor Cornish arranged that we participated in two traditional formal halls – dinners that each College organizes for its students and professors – at St John’s College and Magdalene’s College. The impression was unforgettable. Both students and professors wearing traditional Cambridge gowns, long candle lit tables in enormous, gloomy formal halls with portraits of each College’s most renowned graduates from the past, elegantly dressed waiters serving us delicious three course meals. We could not escape the feeling that we suddenly found ourselves in one of the Harry Potter books’ settings and that this was inevitably how the Hogwart’s must have looked liked.
Our free time during the days we tried to split between exploring the Squire Library’s resources to which we were given access and attending some of the lectures that were just commencing at the University. Among subjects that we chose were Conflict of Laws, Equity and Contract Law.
Once the lectures were over and library closed, Cambridge students’ evening life was slowly starting. As our visit took place in the very beginning of the academic year we were witnessing the so called freshers’ week. Cambridge old streets were full of yet another generation of new students enjoying their time and having fun (while they still can!), pubs and clubs full of young people from literally all over the world.
We concluded our stay with a two day visit to London – this time purely in entertainment purposes to enjoy London by night, confront the hectic metropolitan frenzy of the big city with the quiet, academic and traditional atmosphere of Cambridge which we had the one and only chance to experience to the full during the past week.
This week that we had spent in Cambridge proved to be an amazing and inspiring journey of a lifetime, which we will never forget. It has convinced us that a hard work always pays off and with a bit of luck it can lead you to such magnificent and magical places as the University of Cambridge. Strolling around the picturesque parks and streets in Cambridge we realized that taking part in the Central and East European Moot Court Competition was one of the best and most exciting experiences that happened to us. ”