Over 180 first year students in the English Program participated in the annual Nelligan Moot November 9-11, 2019. The preliminary rounds occurred on Saturday November 9th where teams of two appellant counsel faced off against two respondent counsel in 46 hearings adjudicated by 72 volunteer judges consisting of members of the Nelligan firm, Ottawa bar, Nelligan moot alumni and other upper year students.
The tort case under appeal in this year’s moot was McAllister v. City of Calgary, 2019 ABCA 214. Mr. McAllister was assaulted and badly injured by two individuals near a City of Calgary transit station. He sued the city claiming that it was an “occupier” of the place where he was assaulted and that it failed in its duty to adequately “detect” and then “respond” to the ongoing assault. The plaintiff was successful at both trial and on appeal. Ultimately, the Court of Appeal ruled that the city was responsible for the damages suffered by the plaintiff beyond the first 10 minutes of the assault when it should have been detected and responded to by the city. For Moot Court purposes, the students were appealing the finding that the city was an occupier of the land where the assault took place. They were also appealing the court’s failure to consider privacy law issues when specifying an enhanced video surveillance system that the city ought to have had in place for standard of care purposes.
Following the morning hearings, the judges met to select 16 semi-finalists consisting of four 2 person appellant teams and four 2 person respondent teams. Saturday afternoon, we held 4 playoff hearings simultaneously judged by 12 judges (3 per hearing). Following these playoff hearings the judges met to select the finalists for the Championship Hearing.
The Championship finalists were Connor Steele and Mary McPherson (appellants) and Kelly Brenan and Jeremy Brodeur-Urbas (respondents).
The Championship Hearing took place on Monday November 11th in the Gowlings Moot Court Room with about 100 spectators in attendance. The hearing was presided over by Justice Julie Thorburn of the Ontario Court of Appeal, K. Scott McLean of Mann Lawyers and Professor Bruce Feldthusen of the Common Law Section.
Following the hearing, the judges retired and, in a close decision, they selected Kelly Brennan and Jeremy Brodeur-Urbas as the 2019 Nelligan Cup winners, top two person team. Kelly Brennan was selected the Top Advocate in the competition. The prizes were awarded at a reception following the hearings and included the awarding of the CCLA Best Factum Prize to Amanda Bitten and Alison Gonodosch. They were selected by a committee consisting of Chris Rootham from Nelligan O’Brien Payne and last year’s prize winners, Kim Do and Imroz Ali.
This was the 14th year that Nelligan O’Brien Payne has sponsored the First Year Moot which gives first year students the opportunity to get a taste of advocacy within the first few months of law school. Al O’Brien LLB 1973 and Janice Payne LLB 1974 were in attendance on Saturday and Monday evening and Ms. Payne commended the participants at the award ceremony.
The Nelligan First Year Moot is coordinated by Professor Stephen Blair and Frances Shapiro Munn, a partner at Nelligan O’Brien Payne.
In real life, the City of Calgary is seeking leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.