IISL Releases Moot Court Problem for the 2023 Manfred Lachs Space Competition

The Manfred Lachs Space Moot competition is an annual space moot competition by the International Institute of Space Law (IISL). It was first organised in 1992, during the World Space Congress. The competition is in regional stages. Each region – Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and North America – sends its representatives to the world finals, held on the sidelines of the International Astronomy Convention (IAC). With respect to the 2023 edition, the IISL has published the synopsis and full facts for the Moot competition.

The 2022 edition is still ongoing, and the World Finals will hold during the IAC this September. Africa will be represented by Midlands State University (MSU), which won the 2022 African Regional Rounds back in May. The school will be going against representatives of the other Manfred Lachs regions.

The 2022 case features two fictional parties, Argyliam and Koligian, it is about the use of lasers and other anti-satellite weapons in outer space. The case illustrates how a State’s positioning of laser systems in orbit around the Earth, combined with the provision of inaccurate data on their use, can potentially complicate international relations.

Synopsis of the case

Argyliam v. Koligian

“This case concerns the use of lasers and other anti-satellite weapons in outer space. The case illustrates how the positioning of laser systems (The Palver) in orbit around the Earth by a State (Argyliam), combined with the provision of inaccurate data on their use, can potentially complicate international relations.

While attempting to disrupt the spying capability of a third party’s satellite, Argyliam’s Palver-3 laser system accidentally destroyed a Koligian satellite. Separately, Palver-2 suffered an unexplained loss of control, and its erratic movement brought it towards an area traversed by a plethora of orbiting satellites, including five registered to Koligian.  Palver-2’s laser system was still in an active state, which prompted Koligan to preemptively use an anti-satellite weapon to destroy Palver-2.

As it was not possible for Argyliam and Koligian to resolve their dispute through amicable means, the case is brought before the International Court of Justice. The claims of the Parties refer to the lawfulness of their respective activities in outer space, under space law and international law, as well as to liability issues for damages each sustained.

While registration has not begun for the 2023 edition, interested persons can familiarise themselves with the abridged synopsis and the full facts. The 2023 Lachs Competition will conclude during the IISL Colloquium at the IAC 2023, taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan, from 2 to 6 October 2023.