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Meet the Faculty

Advocate, Law Lecturer & Master Mooter

As a law student at the Cave Hill Campus, Westmin James distinguished himself as a champion of the moot (student) court.  When he returned as a Law Lecturer in 2012, Mr. James quickly set about solidifying Cave Hill’s position as an internationally acclaimed institution for student mooting.  

Contribution to the Cave Hill Legacy
Cave Hill Campus has the oldest and most prestigious Law Faculty in the Caribbean region. With a record of having educated at least a dozen Prime Ministers/Heads of Government, this campus is rivalled only by Oxford University when it comes to alumni who have reach the pinnacle of governance. As a student in the Law Faculty (2001-2003) Westmin James epitomised all that Cave Hill has come to represent. He took multiple academic prizes, and won the coveted Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Scholarship to pursue a Masters in Law at Cambridge University in 2005.

However, it was his foray into the moot (student) court that made the most lasting impression during his undergraduate years and is still benefitting Cave Hill to this day. Under the tutelage of Dr. David Berry (current Dean of the Law Faculty) Mr. James was part of the mooting team that won best Memorial (written argument) in English at the Inter-American Human Rights Moot Court Competition in 2003.

Now, to win best memorial is no mean feat.  It is a clear demonstration that the law student possesses the power of pen and the analytical prowess to sum up the facts of novel or complex cases into lucid and compelling arguments. So impressed was Law Lecturer Douglas Mendes with Mr. James that, in the fullness of time, he invited him to join his legal practice in Trinidad.
 
Coming Home to Cave Hill
From 2004 until 2012, when he made the decision to take a lectureship at Cave Hill, Mr. James gained wide and varied experience arguing civil, industrial and family cases in every legal arena - from the magistrates’ court to the Trinidad and Tobago Court of Appeal.

Bolstered by encouragement from Dr. Berry and strong student interest, the first order of business on returning to his alma mater was the restarting of the International Mooting programme. From then until now, Cave Hill has produced a steady stream of moot masters, due in significant part to Mr. James coaching style – caring, but relentless; hands-on, but not settling until student mooters give their best.

Some international mooting competitions take almost an entire academic year. The case (often at least 40 pages long)  is released to the student teams in December, with the actual competition being staged the following May.

The first team selected after Mr. James’ return to Cave Hill had a mere two weeks to prepare for the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Moot Court Competition and amazingly, that team won!  When it was considered that all previous CCJ competitions had been taken by experienced law school teams comprising of individuals who already had undergraduate law degrees, the victory meant so much more.

The following year the Cave Hill team made a clean sweep at the CCJ competition - winning best memorial, best advocacy and best team.  In 2014, Cave Hill seized the Washington College of Law Inter-American Human Rights Competition, triumphing over teams from across the globe. To this day, Cave Hill is the only English-speaking team to have won that competition - not once, but twice.

With Mr. James as Coach, Cave Hill has won prizes in every competition entered.  The most recent being the first prize in the Caribbean-China International Law Moot Court Competition, held in Beijing in 2018 where an international law case related to land rights and sovereignty was featured.
 
The Mark of a Mooting Champion
So how does Cave Hill select its mooters? According to Mr. James, when the internal mooting competition is staged, he looks out for those students who can analytically navigate a mountain of case facts, produce an insightful memorial and defend it with eloquent tenacity. Reflecting on Cave Hill’s global acclaim in mooting, he notes  ‘many of the schools in the Americas … that participate in the Inter-American Human Rights Moot know of UWI. They may not know where we are, but they know us because we have a history of always doing well … to the point where we are feared. We are known to be a school that produces excellent teams, is very prepared, very articulate, and known for excellence!’
 

Mr. Westmin James displaying one of the many trophies won by Cave Hill's Mooting champions over the years.


However, Mr. James is not one to take the glory for himself, he is emphatic that some of Cave Hill’s success must be attributed to its ability to attract a cross-section of distinguished faculty as well as some of the best students that the region has to offer. He describes Cave Hill as ‘a beacon of law’ dedicated to meeting the needs of the entire Caribbean through a comprehensive coverage of the region’s laws and legal systems. To his mind, the commitment to ensuring that graduates can function across the region continues to set our campus apart.
 
Fierce Advocate and Man of the People
Increasingly, Mr. James sees law as a platform for advocacy, and his expertise in constitutional law and human rights law renders him appropriate for the task. A member of the University of the West Indies Advocacy Project (URAP) his most notable victory to date is Orozco vs. the Attorney General of Belize, where LGBT activist Caleb Orozco challenged the anti-sodomy laws of Belize. Though Mr. James was able to transform the work done in this landmark case into two academic publications for International Journal of Human Rights and The Commonwealth Law Bulletin- both globally recognized journals; he found the most personal satisfaction in making the voice of the minority heard.  He is the first to admit that his love for advocacy stems from an awareness that, having come from humble beginnings in Trinidad, his accomplishments can be attributed, in some significant measure, to supportive family and to help that he received along the way.
 
A Movie Going Caribbean Man
Though teaching, research, advocacy work and serving as Deputy Dean of Outreach for the Faculty of Law consume much of Mr. James’ time, he finds delight in movie going and in attending house limes with Barbadian friends and colleagues that he met as an undergraduate student. He points out that the quintessentially Caribbean nature of Cave Hill has provided him with colleagues not only from Barbados, but from across the region.
 
The Future
Mr. James looks forward to future success in the teaching, research and practice of constitutional law and human rights law, and eagerly anticipates new advocacy opportunities. As our resident Moot Master, he has already begun the search for the next group of students to join Cave Hill’s indomitable mooting band.  
 


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