Shari Nathan (3L)
This year’s historic Grand Moot was the first in U of T Law’s history to feature four female mooters: Jessica Kras, Madeline Lisus, Ashley Bowron, and Catherine Fan. This year’s panel comprised Justices Russell Brown of the Supreme Court of Canada, Robert Sharpe of the Ontario Court of Appeal, and Elizabeth Stewart of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
The Moot Court Committee did not squander the opportunity presented by the all-female mooting contingent, crafting a problem rich with feminist themes that focused on a gay couple challenging the total prohibition on compensated surrogacy in s. 6(1) of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act.
Mooters Kras and Lisus, for the appellants, brought to life a sympathetic narrative of a couple fighting and struggling to create a family in the face of this restriction. They highlighted surrogates’ lack of agency and compensation in comparison to the economic benefits flowing to other parties in altruistic surrogacy, such as lawyers drafting contracts, doctors doing IVF, and the like.
Mooters Bowron and Fan, for the respondents, tempered this struggle against the danger of commodifying pregnancy and childbirth. They discussed the risk of coercion in vulnerable populations, and the potential for women to lose control of their own bodies in pursuit of economic stability.
The panel commended the mooters on their excellent performance. Justice Brown commented that the quality of the mooters’ written submissions was on par with those he sees every day. Justice Stewart was impressed with the mooters’ oral advocacy and ability to respond to tough questions and dumb questions alike. Justice Sharpe, concurring with Justice Stewart, also congratulated the mooters and particularly noted their ability to develop individual oral advocacy styles.
As always, the panel reserved judgement. Justice Brown also took a moment to praise the Moot Court Committee and the problem its members drafted, calling it “one of the best” for this high level of competition.
From the high level of mooting, to the brilliance of the mooters, to the inventiveness of the problem—and, of course, the deft back-and-forth between the panel and the mooters—this is definitely worth a watch. A video recording of the moot is posted online at [https://www.law.utoronto.ca/academic-programs/jd-program/mooting/grand-moot-2017].