|2001 - 2002||Law students publication, Law - University of Alberta, Canada|
Gale Cup Winners Take On the Commonwealth
by Peggy Kemp
The Commonwealth Law Students Mooting Competition takes place once every three years. It happens this December and, for the first time ever, Canadian law students will be represented by a University of Alberta mooting team.
"It's the revenge of Rupert's Land," says team member Robert Palser, now an articling student at Fraser Milner Casgrain in Edmonton. "An opportunity to demonstrate that the Canadian legal system has the vibrancy of the American and the professionalism of the British, with a powerful western flair all its own: traits that showcase the great talent in this part of the country and that will allow us to be a very impressive team indeed."
(Palser's comments have convinced me that, as often happens, I've got it all wrong. My mental image of the people at Fraser Milner Casgrain as a stodgy and pedantic bunch of grey-suited bean counters is unfounded.)
Last February, our team of Jeremiah Kowalchuk, Mike Reid, Sukhi Sidhu and Robert Palser represented the U. of A. at Toronto's Osgoode Hall Law Society Court House, and took first place in the national Gale Cup Moot. Though U. of A. teams have always performed well for the Gale Cup, it was the first time in the 27-year history of the event that we came in first. Fortunately, last February's Gale Cup was the triennial qualifying event for the international Commonwealth competition.
"This is an unprecedented accomplishment," says Associate Dean Moe Litman. "We are thrilled to finally make it to the really big show and to be represented by Sukhi, Jeremiah, Mike and Robert. They are a very talented group of mooters--so much so that anyone mooting against them will be 'in tough'!" (confirmed 'Moeism')
The team will be mooting against teams from Europe, Australasia, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean at Sri Lanka Law College in Colombo, Sri Lanka. "We don't want to put any undue pressure on them," adds Professor June Ross (who has been working with the team on the endless details of actually getting them over there), "but we really believe they have a genuine chance of putting U. of A.'s name on the championship cup! It's also terrific for this accomplished group of students to be rewarded for their commitment, hard work and skill."
Normally a part of the triennial Commonwealth Law Conference, the Mooting Competition was supposed to be held this September in Harare, Zimbabwe. The next Conference was scheduled for Melbourne, Australia in 2004. However, due to the recent breakdown of the rule of law in Zimbabwe, the Harare Conference was postponed and the Melbourne Conference was moved forward to 2003. It looked as though there would be no mooting until Melbourne. As it turns out, however, the 2001 Mooting Competition is being held in conjunction with the Commonwealth Legal Education Association Conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and the U. of A. will be there. Our mooters didn't even know until late October that they were the North American team!
"It's great that our coach Tom Ross (from McLennan Ross in Calgary) will be helping us with our practice rounds and preparation, though unfortunately he can't accompany us to Sri Lanka," says Sukhi Sidhu.
The Commonwealth Law Students' Competition moot problem must involve issues of international or Commonwealth interest and must be concerned solely with a point or points of law. This year's problem involves a dispute between a majority British controlled lead mining operation and an international aid group. The mining operation is located in a developing country. The aid group represents 25 individuals suffering adverse health effects caused by the contamination with lead of an underground aquifer. Team members are grateful to Professor Gerald Robertson, who has generously volunteered to assist with the problem.
Sidhu is looking forward to working with the group again. "We worked so hard for the Gale, but we got along together very well, and it was fun, too," she says. "I can't explain how I feel about this moot." For her, being part of a good team is one of the most rewarding experiences life has to offer, though she anticipates a few good shopping days in Colombo as well.
Jeremiah Kowalchuk says he is "overwhelmed" by the prospect of representing Canada this winter, and notes that "the average temperature in Sri Lanka in December is between 23 and 32 degrees Celsius.
"And, of course, it's a great tanning experience ...ahem ... I mean learning experience," Palser concludes.
Peggy Kemp, December 2001