The semi-finalists of the competition with the judges of the group round

The 5th Herbert Smith Freehills Oxford Disability Mooting Championship took place on Friday 9th and Saturday 10th November 2018 at Mansfield College, Oxford and the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights. The competition, held in Oxford every year with the kind support of Herbert Smith Freehills, has been established to promote the intellectual study of disability and its intersection with issues of law. This year the championship was more timely than ever as it took place shortly before the start of UK Disability History Month on Monday 19th November.

This year’s moot problem concerned medical negligence and, in particular, the nature of a doctor's duty to take reasonable care to ensure that the patient is aware of reasonable treatment options. As it invariably does every year, the moot problem captured the spirit of the Championship and why it is so important that all members of the Oxford Community – undergraduates, graduates, academics and members of the public alike – engage with the issues faced by people with disabilities in their everyday life.

From the preliminary rounds to the Grand Final, the quality of mooting in the Herbert Smith Freehills Oxford Disability Mooting Championship was second to none. Twelve teams have been selected through a competitive round of written submissions and presented their oral arguments before experienced practitioners and experts in the field acting as judges (Mr Adam Johnson QC, Mr Tim Leaver and Mr Gregg Rowan, Partners at Herbert Smith Freehills; and Ms Charlotte Kelly, DPhil Candidate at the University of Oxford). The four highest scoring teams (Joseph Johnson and Ramganesh Lakshman; Harry Stratton and Helen Crowell; Timothy Foot and Oliver Pateman; Rachel Carroll and Rachel Woodward) progressed to the semi-finals of the competition where Mr Nick Peacock, Partner at Herbert Smith Freehills and Ms Emily Blanshard, Senior Associate at Herbert Smith Freehills, were charged with the difficult task to judge the rounds and select the two finalists.

The Grand Final of the Herbert Smith Freehills Oxford Disability Mooting Championship took place on Saturday 10th November 2018, at the Sir Joseph Hotung Auditorium of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights. The Grand Final was judged by a particularly amazing bench: Lord Justice Singh, Lord Justice of Appeal in the Court of Appeal of England and Wales; Ms Helen Mountfield QC, founder member of Matrix Chambers and Principal of Mansfield College, Oxford; and Mr Daniel Hudson, Partner at Herbert Smith Freehills. This esteemed Grand Final Bench played thepart of the Supreme Court and thoroughly tested the intricacies and underlying principles in the competitors’ reasoning.

Both competing teams (Harry and Helen; Timothy and Oliver) were more than impressive in their oral submissions. After much agonising on the part of the judges, the winners of this year’s HSF Oxford Disability Mooting championship were Harry Stratton and Helen Crowell, BCL students at Magdalen College, Oxford.

The Grand Final was followed by an exciting panel discussion celebrating the centenary of The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act. The conversazione, organised in the context of the championship, was on the topic of: ‘Celebrating the Centenary of Women’s Suffrage: What more needs to be done to improve the enfranchisement and representation of disabled people in British Politics and the Legal Profession?’. We were very honoured to welcome as discussants Professor Deborah Foster, Professor of Employment Relations and Diversity, Cardiff University; Ms Jane Burton, Chair of the Lawyers with Disabilities Division of The Law Society; Mr John Horan, Barrister, Cloisters Chambers, Listed by Power 100 (2016) as one of Britain’s most influential people with a disability; and Councillor Damian Haywood, Labour counsellor for Iffley Fields and St Mary's and Operational Lead at Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences' Surgical Intervention Trials Unit. The panel was chaired by Professor Kate O’Regan, Director of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and former judge of the South African Constitutional Court. The points of discussion probed the issues affecting people with disabilities, and women in particular, in politics and the legal profession. The discussants shared their stories and insights and approached the topic from different perspectives (academia, practice, public life) giving an all-embracing overview of the challenges faced today by people with disabilities.

The championship evinced not only an impressive mooting potential by Oxford students but also a desire to bring about change and ensure equal opportunities for all and equal participation in social and public life, which is what makes this competition, in particular, so special.

The Law Faculty and the Mooting Programme are grateful to Herbert Smith Freehills for their continued support to this competition and to the Organising Committee: Dr Marie Tidball (Chair); Dr Luke Rostill (Vice Chair); Anna Ventouratou (Graduate Mooting Coordinator); Amy Howlett (Undergraduate Chair); Hannah Bowden-Rooke (Moot Administrator); Tom Jeffrey (Treasurer); Andy Garratt (Liaison Officer); Tarafa Holford (Communications); Julia Brechtelsbauer (Access Assistant).

 

Anna Ventouratou (DPhil student in Public International Law; Graduate Mooting Coordinator)

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