Organised by Wadham alumna, Dr Marie Tidball of the Oxford Disability Law and Policy Project, the Grand Final of the Herbert Smith Freehills Disability Mooting Championship was won by Liam McKenna and Stephanie Bruce-Smith of Merton College.
Eighteen teams of two students, nine from Oxford and nine from Cambridge took part in the competition and each moot lasted an hour. The Grand Finalists had to get through two days of mooting, consisting of preliminary rounds and semi-finals to reach the final stage of the competition, winning first prize of £500 and runner-up prize £300.
The moot problem and facts this year centred on disability discrimination, in an employment context for an employee with mental health problems.
Liam McKenna commented: “The moot problem was one of the best I have worked with… the issues it raised, on mental hea lth and the Equality Act, were very close to issues that I have seen in real life when working with a charity focussed on equalities law."
The moot, watched by more than 100 people is one of the flagship events of the Oxford University Disability Law and Policy Project, it’s Director, Dr Marie Tidball, said: “This was a high quality final, the arguments made were well thought out and engaging. We have had wonderful feedback from the mooters on what they have learned about disability law and considering wider issues affecting disabled people. They are eager to take their learning forward into their future careers. Improving legal thinking and practice around disability for future members of the legal profession is exactly what we want to achieve so, all in all, the event has been a resounding success!”
The Grand Final judges included Professor Alison Young, the Sir David Williams Professor of Public Law at the University of Cambridge, Professor Anne Davies, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford and Mr Adam Johnson QC, Deputy High Court Judge and a partner in the Disputes Division in Herbert Smith Freehills’ London office.
A panel discussion followed the Grand Final on the theme of Disability at the Intersections: A “hostile environment” for BAME people with disabilities? Speakers included Junie James (Director of the Afrikan and Afrikan Caribbean Kultural Heritage Initiative); Councillor Saghir Alam OBE (former Disability Rights Commissioner and Chair of Action on Disability and Development); Dr Shreya Atrey (Associate Professor of International Human Rights Law, University of Oxford); Dr Jacqui Dyer MBE (President of the Mental Health Foundation); and Deborah Williams (Executive Director of the Creative Diversity Network). The panel was chaired by Nomfundo Ramalekana (Blog Editor for the Oxford Human Rights Hub).
The event took place at the Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre, Worcester College, Oxford to mark the beginning of Disability History Month 2019.