Texaco v. Pennzoil case – mock trial by GED2 students

Judges may sit, parties’ lawyers may be prepared to start their argument because today’s contract law class will be dedicated to a mock trial of the famous Texaco v. Pennzoil case that took place in 1987.

Anne-Isabelle playing a witness

Anne-Isabelle playing a witness

A mock trial is an act or imitation trial. It is similar to a moot court, but mock trials simulate lower-court trials, while moot courts simulate appellate court hearings. It is a famous exercise in the Anglo-American law school program and has now no mystery for the GED2 students.

At the beginning of the mock trial, the judges represented here by Marie, Mathieu, Jaze, Ines, Juliette and Melissa entered the courtroom and all the audience, the class, stood up. The trial session could begin.

From left to right, Inès, Marie, Juliette and Mathieu representing the judges in the Texaco v. Pennzoil case

From left to right, Inès, Marie, Juliette and Mathieu representing the judges in the Texaco v. Pennzoil case

The Texaco v. Pennzoil case is a complex business affair between two parties that agreed upon essential terms of a future contract without actually concluding one. The question asked in front of the court was whether or not this was binding. At the heart of the litigation was the perfidious Gordon Getty whose company agreed upon some terms of a future contract with Pennzoil. Texaco arrived and offered a better bid to Gordon Getty who immediately accepted it, forgetting his former agreement. Pennzoil sued Texaco.

GED2 students had two hours to replay the trial and eventually made the course of the trial change favoring their respective party by examining and cross-examining their witnesses. The key witness here was by far Gordon Getty played by Mayeul.

Mayeul playing Gordon Getty testifying

Mayeul playing Gordon Getty testifying

It was really interesting to see how much everybody was involved in the acting as we had to prepare ourselves at home with our team. Each party’s lawyer examined and cross-examined their witness with so much enthusiasm that we could have believed ourselves taking part in a real trial.

– Well, we had a handshake
– Well, who was the handshake with?
– Well, we shook hands with Gordon.
– Right, did you ever shake hands with the museum?
– Well, no, but we waved to them.
– Well, how about the Getty Oil Company? Did anybody ever shake hands with the Getty Oil Company?
– Hey no, we never talked to them. We never talked to the Getty Oil Company.
– Hum…. That will be all….

This exercise was all the more interesting as it allows us to apply practically what we had studied in theory during the American Law class of Mrs Abadie, dedicated to the “Characteristics of the American justice system: adversary system & premised on jury trials”.

One more anecdote that reveals another attractive feature of the Grande Ecole du Droit and its teaching.

We are very thankful to the professor Einbinder that gives the opportunity to GED2 students to play a mock trial every year during his Contract Law class and we hope that next students will appreciate this exercise as much as we did!

Salomé, playing one of Pennzoil’s lawyers, cross-examining Ayoko, a witness

Salomé, playing one of Pennzoil’s lawyers, cross-examining Ayoko, a witness

By Anne-Isabelle Legouy