Moot Court Committee Statement on Decision to Decline Participation in Commonwealth Moot

The 2016-17 Moot Court Committee

Dear Dean Iacobucci,

We were incredibly disappointed by the administration’s decision to unilaterally decline the Gale team’s invitation to the Commonwealth Moot. Your office’s actionsand the complete lack of consultation that preceded themdisplay alarming insensitivity to the countless hours the mooters and their coaches devoted to the team’s preparations. As a result, the Gale team has been deprived of a unique opportunity to compete in a prestigious international moot.

The administration’s unwillingness to provide any financial support to the Gale mooters is deeply discouraging and inconsistent with its decision to provide such funding in 2015. The administration’s purported policy of only funding first-place finishers is arbitrarythe Gale team’s second-place finish does not make them any less-deserving of an invitation they received precisely because of their exceptional performances at the Gale. What is more concerning is that this “policy” is either well-hidden, unwritten, or very recently invented. The Gale participants, and the mooting program at this school, deserved better.

Even if the administration was unwilling to subsidize the Gale team’s participation in the Commonwealth, it should have allowed them to self-fund or fundraise. The Gale mooters should have been allowed to determine whether the significant pedagogical and career advantages of attending the competition outweighed their travel and registration costs. Instead, your office knowingly withheld this choice from them. Predictably, it did so on the basis of a policy against self-funding that is, at best, undocumented and inconsistently appliedyou and Assistant Dean Faherty are well aware that a team of U of T students is self-funding their participation in the Oxford Intellectual Property Moot.* More surprisingly, your office prohibited the Gale mooters from self-funding or fundraising despite being willing to charge themand every other student at the Facultyover $35,000 per year in tuition fees. Your office is clearly comfortable with students weighing the significant benefits of a U of T law degree against the exorbitant costs of attending the Faculty. We fail to see why your trust in student decision-making did not extend to the Gale team’s invitation to attend the Commonwealth.

But perhaps the most concerning aspect of this episode is your office’s total lack of consultation with the team prior to declining their invitation. Your office may have had valid reasons to prohibit the Gale mooters’ from participating in the Commonwealth. The team deserved to hear those reasons. We understand that a discussion may not have changed your views. However, an open conversation would have demonstrated respect for the team’s efforts and transparency on your office’s part. The administration’s response conveyed neither.

Unfortunately, we believe this incident evinces broader problems with the administration’s attitude towards mooting. We plan on outlining those issues in greater depth later this month. For now, we wish to emphasize our strong disagreement with, and disappointment in, your office’s decision. The Gale team has until 5:00pm today to inform the event organizers of their participation. We hope you will reconsider your decision before then.

Best,

The MCC

The members of the Moot Court Committee are Simon Cameron (3L), Victoria Hale (3L), Stefan Case (3L), Veenu Goswami (3L), and Shane Thomas (3L).

Editor’s Note: See “Gale Cup Mooters Denied Opportunity to Compete Internationally” for the context of this statement. 

*CORRECTION, 12:21 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.*