The Halsbury Society

The Halsbury Society is the Merton College law society and is run by the law students. It is very active, running a whole range of social and academic events, from a tea for the fresher lawyers in their first week, to cocktail parties, garden parties and talks from judges, barristers and city lawyers. The Halsbury society also organizes a prestigious annual lecture. Recent speakers include Lord Justice Beatson QC, Baroness Hale, Lord JudgeSir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Joshua Rozenberg, Shami Chakrabarti, Lord Hoffmann, Lord Millett, Lady Justice Arden, Jeremy Horder and Lord Justice Brian Leveson. The speaker for 2019 was Sir Terence Etherton, who delivered an engaging lecture on his legal career and life as a modern Master of the Rolls.

For further information contact the President, Petra Stojnic.


The past academic year has been another wonderful one for the Halsbury Society, featuring a range of great events and fantastic academic and mooting achievements by Merton Law students. 

During Freshers’ Week, the society hosted our Welcome Tea Party for the incoming fresher law students to allow them to get to know the other law students at Merton. In Hilary term, we welcomed Sir Terence Etherton, Master of the Rolls, to Merton, who delivered an engaging lecture on his legal career and life as a modern Master of the Rolls. This was followed by a wonderful subject dinner in Trinity term. The Halsbury Society is fortunate to receive sponsorship from many leading law firms each year. Special mention must go to Slaughter and May, who sponsored the lecture dinner with Sir Terence, Gibson Dunn for sponsoring our subject dinner in Trinity term, and Sullivan & Cromwell for sponsoring our annual Christmas Drinks.

The Halsbury Society is always looking for new ways to provide Merton law students with new and exciting legal opportunities. In past years, Professor Anselmo Reyes from the University of Hong Kong has provided the unique opportunity for Merton law students to undertake a mini-pupillage in Hong Kong. This year, the Halsbury Society is delighted to have been working with Professor Reyes to develop the Doshisha Merton Advocacy Network Initiative (DOMANI) which will be hosted at Doshisha University, Japan in September 2020. DOMANI will be an excellent chance to experience an alternative career path in an international context while applying academic skills in a novel setting.

Every year Merton law students participate in a number of mooting competitions, often with great success. This year Liam McKenna (2017) competed in the renowned Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition and reached the semi-finals. Riya Bhatt (2017) and Stephanie Bruce-Smith (2017) took part in the Price Media Law Moot Court Competition and reached the quarter-finals. All three should be congratulated for their performance in these international competitions.

As ever, Merton lawyers have continued to perform highly academically and special mention should be given to Ross Moore (2018) who won the Slaughter and May Prize in Roman Law and the Norton Rose Fulbright Prize for best Merton performance in Mods. Isadora Janssen (2017) and Stephanie Bruce-Smith (2017) jointly received the Allen & Overy Second Year Law Prize at Merton College.

It has been a privilege to serve as the Halsbury Society President for 2018-19 and I wish Petra Stojnic (2018), President 2019-20, and the rest of her committee the best of luck for next year. They have already fought strong winds and hot weather to produce an excellent garden party.

Sam Gibbs (2017)
Halsbury Society President 2018-19

The Halsbury Society committee 2017-18: (L-R) Ameer Ismail, Eleanor Chafer, Niamh Herrett, Andrew Dixon, Valerie Chee, and Ailsa Clelland - Photo: © Oliver Stratton
The Halsbury Society committee 2017-18: (L-R) Ameer Ismail, Eleanor Chafer, Niamh Herrett, Andrew Dixon, Valerie Chee, and Ailsa Clelland

The past year has been another fantastic year for the Halsbury society, with a number of exciting events, as well as a whole host of academic and mooting successes on the part of the Merton law students.

We began the year with our Welcome Tea for the incoming fresher lawyers, which was a lovely opportunity to get to know them better, as well as give them advice on how to approach the subject. Moreover, this committee has added a further regular event to the Halsbury calendar, namely the termly Halsbury Society Subject Tea. The Tea Party is held in honour of one of the Merton students’ favourite tutors, whether internal or external, with a parallel tradition of the committee baking and decorating law-themed cupcakes. So far, we have seen Roman Law, Land Law and European Law themed bakes.

On top of this, the society has continued the variety of more formal events, and during Hilary term we were fortunate enough to have Lord Justice Beatson visit and deliver us a lecture on the independence of the judiciary in the 21st century. Whilst both interesting and educational, it was followed by an equally enjoyable subject dinner. Additionally, during the Hilary term, we were grateful to have Sullivan & Cromwell sponsor a further subject dinner, and even more thankful to have Ben Perry (1992) deliver a speech about the legal profession. Finally, Trinity term brought both the 1st and 2nd year college moots, with the latter being sponsored and judged by Slaughter & May. Given the traditionally strong commitment to mooting in Merton, it is unsurprising that this year many have gone to moot successfully in University competitions.

The New Year saw finalists Ioana Burtea and Ed Langley reach the finals of the Times 2TG Moot. They participated before a bench composed of both Lord Hughes and Lord Carnwath of the Supreme Court, just missing first place. Halsbury is also delighted with the successful participation of Merton students in the Oxford University international teams. Second-year undergraduate Valerie Chee took 8th place in the list of best Oralists in the 2018 International Rounds of the 11th annual Price Media Law Moot Court Competition. Likewise, Andrew Dixon and Niamh Herrett formed part of the 11th International Roman Law Moot Court Competition, in which Oxford took first place. But to top it all off, the Merton Cuppers mooting team were winners of the inter-collegiate mooting competition. Ameer Ismail and Andrew Dixon expertly represented the College from the quarter-finals onwards, with Niamh Herrett, Liam McKenna and Stephanie Bruce-Smith representing the College in the earlier rounds. Unsurprisingly, the Halsbury Society is incredibly proud of all the mooting success.

It’s been a great pleasure to serve as the Halsbury Society President this year, and I wish the best of luck to the next committee, with Sam Gibbs as their president, who have already ended Trinity term with a splendid Garden Party.

Niamh Herrett
Halsbury Society President 2017/2018


The Halsbury Society has had another very successful year.

The new committee’s mandate started with the annual garden party generously sponsored by Allen & Overy. Despite uncooperative weather, the event successfully went ahead. It was the perfect way to celebrate the end of the year for our finalists and tutors alike while first-year students had the chance to talk to solicitors and toast to future opportunities. We've followed this up with exciting events such as a lecture from Baroness Hale.

Trinity term also brought along several moots for our law students. For more about competitions including the Oxford Cuppers Competition, Philip C Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, and the Price Media Law Moot Court Competition, check out our mooting page. Our students consistently reached the advanced rounds of these competitions, continuing the Halsbury Society’s long standing mooting tradition – last year, Anna Williams and Katie Ratcliffe reached the national semi-finals as part of the Oxford Jessup Moot team.

We cannot wait to welcome a new generation of law students at Merton. We look forward to the many dinners, presentations and lectures we will host in the coming two terms.

Ioana Burtea
Halsbury Society President 2016/2017


The past year has been another fantastic year for the Halsbury Society. We started the year welcoming the new law undergraduates and postgraduates with afternoon tea and, three weeks later, held the first St Anne’s vs Merton family law moot, judged by Jo Delahunty QC (St Anne’s 1983). The moot was won by Michael Withers and Nanae Hart (both 2014) for Merton, who then went on to form part of the Merton Cuppers mooting team along with Ioana Burtea (2015), Niamh Kelly (2015) and Laura King (2013). In the Maitland Chambers Intercollegiate Mooting Competition, Merton came second overall, its highest result in the history of the competition.

Merton students have participated in a wide variety of mooting competitions this year and had numerous successes. Michael Withers and Nanae Hart participated in two University moots, the Shearman & Sterling moot and the Herbert Smith Freehills Oxford Disability Moot, while Katie Ratcliffe (2014) was part of the winning team in the Oxford Legal Assistance Moot in Trinity 2016. Anna Williams (2014) and Katie Ratcliffe were selected in Trinity Term 2015 as members of the Oxford Jessup moot team, which reached the semi-final of the national round.

The first and second years were privileged to receive a masterclass by two Herbert Smith Freehills solicitor advocates in Trinity 2016. This was followed by the secondyear moot sponsored by the firm, in which Anna Williams and Katie Ratcliffe came runner-up and winner respectively. The year concluded with the FE Smith Memorial Moot in which all Merton first years performed exceptionally well, with Zoe Harrison (2015) awarded first prize and Ioana Burtea runner-up.

We have also been privileged to attend lectures by various eminent lawyers. One highlight of the year in Michaelmas 2015 was the Merton Lawyers’ Association event, the keynote speech being given by the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve (Magdalen 1975) on ‘Being an attorney general’. This was a fascinating lecture and was followed by the opportunity for Merton students to meet former Mertonians working in different areas of the law. In Hilary 2016, the annual lecture, sponsored by Slaughter and May, was given by Lord Kerr on the Batang Kali massacre in light of the recent Supreme Court decision on the case. The lecture was well attended and provided a unique insight into a core administrative law case.

As the year comes to a close, we hand over to the first years who, with Ioana Burtea as the new President of the Society, are already planning exciting events for the coming year. To the members of the Society who are leaving Oxford, we wish you the best of luck in your future careers.

Katie Ratcliffe (2014)
Halsbury Society President 2015-16