UPDATE, 1:02 pm February 27, 2017: See “Faculty Changes Position, Gale Team Can Go to Commonwealth Moot“.
This year’s U of T Gale Cup Moot team were shocked to find out late Friday that Assistant Dean Sara Faherty had declined an invitation for them to compete at the Commonwealth Moot in Melbourne, Australia.
U of T’s appellant team, Catherine Fan (2L) and Zachary Al-Khatib (3L), finished second place out of forty teams at the bilingual Gale Cup Moot last weekend. The Gale Cup Moot Committee invited Catherine and Zachary to compete at the Commonwealth Moot after the first place team, Université du Québec à Montréal, declined the offer. Assistant Dean Faherty denied the U of T Gale Cup Moot team this opportunity without consulting the team or informing them that the opportunity existed.
According to an email sent from fellow Gale Cup teammate Stephanie Lewis (2L) to Dean Iacobucci, the team were told that the Faculty would have paid their way had they placed first, but not second. The team offered to fundraise or self-fund the trip to Melbourne, but were told there is a policy against that too. Stephanie wrote, “I urge you to make an exception. Such a policy makes little sense.” Another team member wrote to the Dean:
While I understand the value of bright line rules in some situations (indeed, we argued for one at the Gale) this certainly seems to be a circumstance where an exception is merited…. I would urge the school to change course in this instance and email the Commonwealth committee indicating that we do wish to attend.
In March 2015, the Faculty sponsored the Gale Cup-winning team to compete at the Commonwealth Moot in Glasgow, Scotland. The Faculty also sponsored a team in 2005. Members of last year’s Fox Moot team are self-funding a trip to the Intellectual Property Law Moot in Oxford, England this March, which they qualified for by winning last year’s Harold G. Fox Intellectual Property Law Moot.*
The team’s coach, criminal defense lawyer Michael Dineen, told Ultra Vires that he was disappointed with the Faculty’s decision:
All four members of the team this year were particularly talented and hardworking and performed brilliantly. One of the Gale judges called me the day after the moot to rave about our team, which has never happened before in the seven years I’ve been coaching. It’s very disappointing that they won’t be able to represent Canada at the Commonwealth Moot.
The Moot Court Committee has released a statement calling the decision “deeply discouraging” and a display of “alarming insensitivity to the countless hours the mooters and their coaches devoted to the team’s preparations.” See the full statement here.
This article will be updated with comment from parties involved. Students, alumni and others who wish to support the team are encouraged to write to Dean Iacobucci and Assistant Dean Faherty. The team has been given until 5 p.m. today to confirm their attendance with the Commonwealth Moot’s organizers.
*CORRECTION 12:19 pm Feb. 27 2017: DLA Piper has generously funded two members of the team to go to the moot in Oxford, England. The other two members are funding their own trips.**
**CORRECTION 12:10 pm Feb. 28 2017: For further clarity, the members of the Fox team funding their own trips are not competing in the moot in Oxford, England.