The Grand Final of the inaugural Herbert Smith Freehills Disability Mooting Championship: Oxford v Cambridge was held at Worcester College in November 2019 to mark the beginning of Disability History Month 2019.
The scintillating head to head between the two historic Universities was won by students from the University of Oxford, Liam McKenna and Stephanie Bruce-Smith of Merton College. Alice Defriend and Cara Donegan of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge, were the very capable runners-up. The Grand Finalists had to get through two days of mooting to reach the final stage of the competition. Eighteen teams of two students, nine teams from Oxford and nine from Cambridge, took part. Preliminary rounds took place at Jesus and Exeter College, Oxford. The moot problem centred on disability discrimination, in an employment context for an employee with mental health problems.
The quality of mooting was so high that the judges decided to award two honourable mention prizes, for being the best mooters not going forward to the finals and semi-finals, to Oxford’s Charlie Liu and Alyssa Glass.
This exciting mock court case competition aimed to promote the study of disability and the law. This year’s competition saw a record 74 students apply to take part and the Grand Final was watched by an audience of over 100 people. The moot is one of the flagship events of the Oxford University Disability Law and Policy Project. Its Director, Dr Marie Tidball, said: ‘We are delighted the mooters gained so much from the event and are eager to take their learning about disability law into their future careers. This is exactly what we wanted to achieve and were thrilled to work with the University of Cambridge and Herbert Smith Freehills on this varsity edition of our successful Disability Mooting Championship.’
A panel discussion followed the Grand Final on the theme of Disability at the Intersections: A “hostile environment” for BAME people with disabilities, which focussed on the impact of the UK government’s immigration policy on BAME disabled people after the Windrush Scandal.
The success of the event gained coverage in The Times, the Global Legal Post and the Oxford Mail.
Panel Discussants (Left to Right): Junie James, Councillor Saghir Alam OBE, Nomfundo Ramalekana (Chair), Dr Shreya Atrey, Dr Jacqui Dyer MBE, and Deborah Williams (Executive Director of the Creative Diversity Network). ©Emilia Cieslak