The Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moot is Canada’s preeminent nationwide moot court competition devoted to environmental law. Its goal is to promote awareness of the growing role of environmental issues in contemporary legal practice and public life, while enhancing law students’ written and oral advocacy skills. The 2019 case was Orphan Well Association v Grant Thornton Limited, 2017 ABCA 124.
Usask team members Allyse Cruise, Courtenay Catlin and Kaitlin Ward won both preliminary rounds and were one of four teams to advance to the semi-final where they met McGill University. They met the University of Toronto in the final and were forced to argue for the appellants. To add pressure to the situation, Madam Justice Côté of the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC), who recently sided with the respondent when the case was before the SCC, was one of three judges for the final round of the competition.
Despite the pressure, the team was victorious with Cruise and Ward also being named as two of the top seven distinguished oralists in the competition.
And if winning the competition wasn't impressive enough, the team was presented with an impromptu “Spirit of the Law” award for lending a team member to the University of Victoria after one of their students fell ill. Catlin and Ward took turns joining the UVic team, resulting in a semi-final finish for their British Columbia rivals.
Coach Leah Howie was extremely proud of the team’s performance. “The team worked hard and I was so happy to not only watch them succeed, but have a lot of fun along the way,” she said.
The team was selected in September, wrote their factum in January and have been practicing diligently ever since.
“They took part in many practice rounds in front of faculty, alumni, fellow students, former team members and lawyers from MLT Aikins, McKercher LLP, McDougall Gauley, Hnatyshyn Gough, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice and the Federal Department of Justice. So we just extend a huge thanks to the legal community,” said Howie.
Dean of Law, Martin Phillipson, also sat in on a practice round with the environmental moot team and was impressed with their knowledge and professionalism.
“Allyse, Kaitlin and Courtenay embody the spirit of the College of Law in that they combine outstanding legal skills, hard work and professionalism with a true sense of camaraderie and willingness to help others. Our pride in their victory is matched by our pride in the way in which it was achieved,” he said.
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