Formerly I kept a blog-page on my journey studying LLM from the RGU. Arising from the contents of my blog-pages revealing some of ‘proprietary-materials’, I decided to remove it. Having completed most of the journey, I decided to tell, my side of the story for the benefits of students whom like me, I naively attempted this ‘expensive-venture’ without a legal-background, thinking that it is a ‘part-time’ effort. I erred entirely, for the expectation of the Law-School at RGU, is for you to produce ‘academic-work’ on par of ‘full-time’ law students in the UK. In a nutshell, the experience is not easy, as the saying go, ‘no-pain, no-gain’. Reflecting again my ‘foolish’ decision, deciding doing a Diploma in International Arbitration versus the LLM from RGU on construction law and arbitration, I must admit that I am fully satisfy with the ‘depth and breadth’ of both ‘legal-skills’ and ‘knowledge of the law’ pertaining to common-law principles of UK and civil-law of Scotland. No regret about it. How I wished someone would have given me this piece of advice before …
Year-01/Sem-01, was ‘technically-nightmare’, almost unheard of OSCOLA; IRAC; and how to ‘package-it’ in a ‘presentable’ manner. Such a year is all about exam. The law of evidence, obligation and tort was presented in ‘skeleton’ … I failed to appreciate the nuance of the notes, authoritative-textbook and the sort. It is true, Architect don’t read. Until some lawyer friends came along to ‘teach’ me the ‘foundation of reading law’ … You just cannot read it the ‘normal-way’. By then, it is ‘too-late’ exam was around the corner. RGU require exam in the following mode, MCQ (with many-many sub-sub questions); time-paper (like short essays with limited time-frame); and coursework (academic writing).
Year-01/Sem-02, was all about arbitration, broken down into 2-parts, practice and procedure (P&P) and arbitration law (specifically UK Arbitration Act 1996 AA). Lecturers in RGU are proud to state that the AA is so complete that you don’t need the arbitration rules to administer the entire arbitration. By this time, I am ‘a little wiser’.
For AA, I synthesize the ‘mandatory-textbook’ in accordance to the ‘notes’ as write-ups, complete with footnotes in a ‘dense-format’. I even, seamlessly ‘juxtapose’ with UNCITRAL model-law. Further, applying Rules, i.e. UNCITRAL and the LCIA rules. Again, not forgetting ‘soft-laws’, i.e. IBA-Guidelines. Unfortunately, collating all these require ‘monumental-efforts’ and ‘keeping up with the joneses’ on current issues pertaining to the questions of seat, substantive-law and law governing arbitration agreement; conflicts of laws; ambush; and others, via constantly researching Kluwer-Blog and Westlaw, require time. I spent my entire ‘Lock-Down’ period due to Covid-19 pandemic on this. Came exam, MCQ was bearable, but coursework came with another surprise … understand what the questions require was another ‘nightmare’. It was drafted so vaguely and confusing, requiring you to take both-sides to contemplate on some issues of arbitration law that surprisingly mirrored those from the ‘Vis Moot’s problems’, that has ‘no definitive answer’, i.e. the question of impartiality when the experts in conflict with the arbitrator and a matter of ‘sanction’ and non-recognition of arbitral award. Another form of examination, in the form of ‘advocacy’ taking either respondent or claimant, was challenging when your audience is your camera and the monitor. I took 8-takes to ‘perfect-it’.
For P&P, I had not much time to ponder on the notes. I rely on a very old-book on construction arbitration that contains all kinds of samples or procedural-orders; awards; correspondences; preliminary-meeting; and notes that I ‘painstaking-ly’ reformat for my immediate use. Together with the synthesized arbitration-law, especially all the CIArb-practice notes, I practically ‘wrote a book’ during the lock-down. Came exam, I practically ‘cut and paste’ from these notes that I pre-prepared.
Year-01/Sem-03, I am a little enlightened. It is also a time for me to improve on my grading for CIArb purposes. I need at least 55% minimum for all my exams. For these coursework(s), I synthesized the entire text-books from the few hundreds of pages into less than a 100 pages complete with all its footnotes on case-laws and citation, the OSCOLA way. I analyzed both ‘Grade-A’ examples provided by the school as guidance of the coursework, to distil the IRAC structure that I religiously followed and applied. The same strategy was applied to Time-Paper.
Summer-School, I enrolled into ‘Award-Writing’. I would not say much about passing the ‘Award-Writing’. It requires another write-up, for such a matter. The format of the exam mirrors those of CIArb Module-3. Two parts, foremost Format and Interlocutory part can be pre-prepared and follow by the second, Hearing and Execution part of the Award has to be completed within 4-hours timeframe. The nasty thing is, unlike any challenge on jurisdiction, the wild-card is ‘Rome Re-cast’ that I rarely familiar with. I spent ‘valuable-time’ researching online on this ‘species’ leaving very little time for me to wrap up. I am therefore, a casualty of ‘time’ due to my slow typing-skill and having to work in compliance to UK’s time.
Year-02, as I had been informed, should be ‘lighter’ as it is no longer annex to CIArb. Instead of exam orientated, this time around is fully coursework. Apparently, the strategy I discovered, i.e. synthesizing text-books into ‘personal-notes’ work as a ‘time-saver’. The same was applied to all the construction-law modules 1, 2 and 3, that were based on the JCT and to the international-contract module, based on the FIDIC and NEC. Again, understanding what the questions require was another ‘nightmare’. It was drafted so vaguely and confusing, on areas covering obligations, extension of time, CDM, procurements, antiquities, practical-completion, damages, third-party collateral warranties, pay-less notices, non-payment, variations and the sorts. As I have yet to acquire skills of ‘deciphering ambiguities into clarities’, it is still a daunting task. This, after spending a larger part of my 17-years of my professional career in contract administration as an Architect, could only fathom that such is apparently how ‘lawyers’ look at contractual issues as in contract-administration. The good part of this year is that it forces me to be acquainted with JCT, FIDIC and NEC conditions in detail; enabling me to decipher the common framework, shared by all these standard forms, as per the text-book; and how these international approaches were later adopted in our local forms, i.e. PAM, JKR/PWD and the CIDB forms of contract.
Year-03, the final year is solely dedicated to the production of the master thesis. I shall reserve this part of the story for some other time. The journey through this LLM via RGU is not entirely a ‘bed of roses’, but the knowledge I gained is ‘very-expensive’ especially with the conversion of Ringgit to Pound-Sterling. Notwithstanding such, it is really all about preparation. Preparation means not only ‘hard work’ but a workable strategy that enable you to acquire, organize and reproduce the ‘knowledge’ within shortest time for exam purposes. Failing, the first-round, is thus, only the pathway to success.
 Master in Law
 Robert Gordon University
 OSCOLA is a footnote style adopted in law-school via Oxford System Citation On Legal Authority
 Structure of Legal-writing based on Issues; Rules; Application; and Conclusion
 McKendrick E, Contract Law (12th edition, Palgrave Macmillan 2017); Lunney M & Oliphant K, Tort Law: Texts and Materials (5th edition, Oxford, 2013)
 Multiple Choice Question
 Blackaby N, Partasides C, Redfern A, Hunter M, Redfern and Hunter on International Arbitration (6th edition, Oxford University Press 2015); Harris B, Planterose R, Tecks J, The Arbitration Act 1996: A Commentary (5th edition John Wiley & Sons Inc 2014)
 United Nations Commission on International Trade Law
 London Court of International Arbitration
 International Bar Association
 Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
 Vincent Powell-Smith et al, Construction Arbitrations (2nd edition, Blackwell 1989)
 Regulation (EC) No 593/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 on the law applicable to contractual obligations (Rome I)
 Joint Contract Tribunal
 International Federation of Consulting Engineers
 New Engineering Contract
 John Uff, Construction Law (12th edition, Sweet & Maxwell 2017)
 Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia (Malaysia Institute of Architects)
 Jabatan Kerja Raya / Power Work Department
 Construction Industry Development Board
Objective of this Page:
I am contributing to the public information regarding my experience reading law in UK University, in general. These information is for educational purpose only and shall not be taken as an advice be it legal or otherwise. You should seek proper advice to your case with the relevant professionals. The author cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information so provided here.