Osgoode students take second and third at moot courts

Tis the season to go mooting, and students from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School have been arguing, and often winning, mock cases in moot court competitions across the country. A four-member Osgoode team beat 10 other teams earlier this month to snatch a second place finish at the 2008 Corporate/Securities Law Moot Court Competition, while another Osgoode student team came third at the Sopinka Cup in Ottawa. Three more Osgoode student teams competed at moot court competitions in three Prairie cities.

The 2008 Corporate/Securities Law Moot Court Competition is the only moot court competition in Canada focused exclusively on corporate and securities law. Osgoode students Zohar Levy, Pavel Malysheuski, Alan Melamud and Kevin Nash finished second behind the University of Western Ontario at the competition held in Toronto, Feb. 29 and March 1. This year’s case dealt with the conflict between contractual obligations and directors’ fiduciary duties in the context of competing takeover bids.

Levy was the first place oralist, while Malysheuski and Melamud argued the final round before Justices Kathryn N. Feldman, Robert A. Blair and Ian V.B. Nordheimer of the Ontario Court of Appeal, along with David Brown, Q.C. – former chairman and CEO of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) – and Lawrence Ritchie, vice-chair of the OSC. Their task was made especially challenging as they had to convince the final bench to overrule the real life Ontario Court of Appeal decision on which the competition case was based and which was written by Justice Blair. The team was coached by Bruce O’Toole and David Noseworthy of Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto. This was Osgoode’s first appearance in this competition in several years.

For the Canadian National Round of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, held in Saskatoon, from March 6 to 8, Osgoode students Kalyn Bomback, Ron Fernando, Tim Phillips and Jesse Rosenberg competed. The Jessup is the world’s largest moot court competition with teams from more than 700 law schools in 80 countries competing in national and regional runoffs. Each team argues the same simulated dispute between fictitious countries before the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations.

Osgoode was one of 15 teams in the Canadian round. This year’s problem dealt with allegations of terrorism, illegal abduction, extraordinary rendition, torture, violations of due process and crimes against humanity. The University of Ottawa (Common Law Section) won the Canadian round. Although the Osgoode team did not advance to the final round, they received very positive feedback from judges and other competitors. The team was coached by York Professor Stepan Wood.

The Kawaskimhon 2008 Aboriginal Law Moot was hosted by the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law in Edmonton, from March 7 to 9. The Osgoode team of Cassandra Baars, Andrea Bradley, Patricia Hania and Amanda Sheane, coached by York Professor Benjamin Richardson, participated effectively and with considerable spirit and poise. Osgoode was one of 14 law schools from across Canada at the competition, a record for the moot which has been held annually in different law schools since 1995.

Kawaskimhon, which means "speaking with knowledge," is a non-competitive moot based on current issues concerning Aboriginal peoples. It is conducted in a circle format, with each law school representing one party in a complex, multi-party negotiation. The objective is to try and reach consensus on the issues raised by the moot problem, aided by expert Aboriginal facilitators.

Each team also prepares a rigorously researched and written submission on the legal issues raised by the problem, as well as a negotiation paper from an Indigenous process perspective. There are no winners or losers in Kawaskimhon, unlike typical moot court competitions. This year’s problem was based on current disputes in British Columbia concerning overlapping Aboriginal treaty and land rights. In 2006, Osgoode hosted this unique event. In 2009, the host will be the University of Windsor.

From Feb. 28 to March 1, Osgoode students Jamie Greenberg, Scott Jones, Jean-Philippe Latreille and Alex Proulx were in Winnipeg to compete in the Concours Laskin Moot, accompanied by coach Vanita Goela of the federal Department of Justice. The Laskin, named after former Chief Justice of Canada Bora Laskin, is Canada’s premier bilingual moot court competition. It raises issues of administrative and constitutional law. At least one member of each team must submit a factum and present oral arguments in the other official language of Canada.

This year’s problem involved a fictitious federal government decision to cut federal funding for English language preschool programs in Quebec and other minority official language preschool programs across Canada. Nineteen teams from across Canada competed with McGill University finishing first overall, followed by University of British Columbia and Dalhousie University. Although Osgoode did not advance to the final round, the team put in great performances and received positive feedback from judges and other competitors. Latreille and Proulx delivered their written and oral arguments in French and also translated one of the Jessup team’s opposing memorials from French into English.

At another moot court competition – the Sopinka Cup – Osgoode students Kevin Hille and Judith Parker placed third overall, while Hille won for best direct examination. The Sopinka Cup, Canada’s national bilingual trial advocacy competition, was held at the Ottawa-Carleton court house, March 14-15 . It was created in 1999 to honour the late Justice John Sopinka of the Supreme Court of Canada and is open to the eight law schools that place first or second in four regional competitions.

Hille and Parker qualified for this year’s competition earlier by placing second in the Arnup Cup, the regional competition for Ontario law schools. They were coached by Sandra Barton of Heenan Blaikie LLP, Brian Gover of Stockwoods LLP and Moiz Rahman, Crown Counsel with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada. The competition was won by McGill, with the University of British Columbia taking second spot.