Disability and the law

8th November 2021

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Congratulations to Wadham Law student Joseph Khaw (Law, 2020) who reached the semi-finals of the Herbert Smith Freehills Disability Moot, narrowly missing out on a place in the Oxford v Cambridge final.  

  • Joseph Khaw and Kristy Chan

    Undergraduates Joseph Khaw and Kristy Chan

In the annual event organised by Wadham researcher and Coordinator of the Oxford University Disability Law and Policy Project Dr Marie Tidball (Law, 2002) and Associate Professor Dr Luke Rostill (Law, 2007), Joseph and fellow respondent Kristy Chan (Somerville) were representing the tenant in a case focused on equality and housing law.

Joseph explains: “The moot problem invoked a dispute between a disabled tenant and her landlord over unpaid arrears due to the COVID-19 pandemic and her disability, thereby exploring issues relating to disability discrimination under section 15 of the Equality Act 2010 and liability of landlords/occupiers for nuisances committed by their tenants/licensees. The case invited participants to explore a number of nuanced issues such as the causal link required between a tenant’s disability and the reason for repossession proceedings, grounds on which disability discrimination may be justified, and when a licence may be found sufficiently akin to a tenancy that a licensor cannot properly be regarded as an occupier when determining liability for private nuisance.”

“The most challenging part of the moot was navigating the tricky issues of policy and principle revolving disability discrimination as well as addressing the heavy judicial interventions from our learned judge at the Semi-Final,” he added.

Joseph was winner of the Wadham College Law Society Moot in Trinity 2021 and has represented Oxford at several international moots since January this year. He is on Oxford’s team for the 2022 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.

The online final saw a Magdalen team, Jake Emerson and Oliver Clement, up against Jonny Yin and Saifullah Shah from Cambridge University. Judging the moot were Professor Susan Bright, Professor of Land Law, University of Oxford; Daniel Hudson, Corporate Crime and Investigations Partner at Herbert Smith Freehills; and Nicholas McBride, Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge.

This prestigious moot court competition, supported by Herbert Smith Freehills, was established by Wadham students and the Oxford Law Faculty to promote the intellectual study of disability and its intersection with domestic and international law. It is designed to showcase the challenges faced by academics and legal practitioners who work in this field. In so doing, it hopes to raise awareness of legal issues facing people with disabilities and the need to increase the representation of disabled people within the legal profession.

A Panel Discussion followed the moot, on the theme 'Up to the Challenge? Does the National Disability Strategy do enough to address the twin crises of Climate Change and life post-COVID-19 Pandemic?' 

This event was part of the Oxford Disability Law and Policy Project coordinated by Wadham alumna Dr Marie Tidball and hosted at Wadham.