Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I become a member?
UTPLS Members are afforded many exclusive benefits! Click here for more information on the exclusive perks you will receive when you register as a UTPLS Member.
Mock Trial & Moot Competitions
When and where are the competitions held?
There are five main undergraduate competitions through the year. They all typically take place on the weekend, and last for two days: Capital Cup Moot @ Carleton University in November, UofT Mock Trial Competition @ University of Toronto in November; McGill Invitational Moot @ McGill University in January, UofT Cup Moot @ University of Toronto in February, and Osgoode Cup Moot @ York University in March.
How much does it cost to compete?
Competition fees vary, but each competition costs around $170-250 per team, and usually includes five meals during the two days of competition: two breakfasts, two lunches, and a banquet-style dinner. In addition, for the Capital (Ottawa) and McGill (Montreal) tournaments, there are travel and accommodations costs involved.
In 2018, the UTPLS launched a Scholarship Fund for the first time ever. This fund was established to assist deserving and needing participants with associated tournament fees. Click here for more information.
In addition, many colleges and UofT grants can assist with extracurricular competitions and conferences. Trinity and Woodsworth College have existing experiential learning bursaries which help reimburse these costs for low-income students, and other colleges (though we cannot confirm this) may have them as well.
How can I prepare for the competitions?
Mock Trial and Mooting are time commitments and it is unlikely you will do well if you are preparing last-minute. The best teams know the case inside-out, and have internalized the information so they can respond to various judges, witnesses, and opposing counsel. You should take care to make sure both your team is prepared to put in this time commitment.
We offer practices to help familiarize competitors with the case, give tips regarding format and style, and connect teams so they have a forum for discussion and practice. We generally try to avoid directly answering questions however - we feel this does not produce the best results for teams.
What is the format of competitions?
Undergraduate mooting consists of teams of two, who each argue for one side of an appeals-level case (not a mock trial). Generally, Mooting consists of two-day competitions; on the first day, all teams will go through 4 non-elimination rounds, arguing for each side twice. On the second day, the Top 8 teams on the basis of scoring from the first day compete in elimination rounds to determine a final champion.
There is only ever one case being mooted, and you are expected to prepare submissions for both sides because you will have to represent both sides over the course of the entire day.
How does each round work?
Each participant is given approximately 8 to 10 minutes of time. Participants are expected to fill up this time. The two Appellants will speak first, one after another, followed by the two Respondents. At some competitions, the Appellants will be given a 2 minute Right of Reply following the Respondents submissions.
Generally, if you need more time, you may request an extra minute or two and it may be granted at the judges' discretion.
Submissions are not speeches, they are conversations meant to try and convince a judge to your viewpoint. Judges will frequently interject with their questions, and your responses should help advance your main point - or else you may find yourself debating something completely off-topic with the judge. You should respond to the opposing side's concerns and points, rather than trying to advance your point of view.
There is really no substitute for competitions - the only way to become skilled at Moot Court is to participate in Moot Court. That being said, many competitors will have developed their public speaking skills through attending conferences, debates, Model UN, etc. None of these are necessary prerequisites by any means however.
There is very poor correlation between your area of study or year of study and moot performance - we invite all students to participate in Moot Court. The only well-correlated factors in determining performance are mooting experience and time spent on practicing.
What kind of students do best in moot court?
What is the format of the competition?
Generally, Mock Trial is a two day competition held over one weekend (Saturday and Sunday). On the first day, all teams will go through 4 non-elimination rounds, arguing for each side twice. The eight teams that finish the first day of the competition with the highest overall scores will then proceed to compete on the second day. All teams other than the top eight will be eliminated and will not proceed to compete on the second day. Of course, eliminated teams are always welcome to attend and watch the second day’s rounds. On the second day, teams will compete in elimination rounds (based entirely on win/loss) to determine a final champion.
There is only ever one case per competition, and you are expected to prepare to present for both sides because you will have to represent both sides over the course of the entire day.
How large are the teams?
Team size depends on which Mock Trial competition you are attending.
UTPLS’s Mock Trial Competition requires teams of four. Each team will argue for one side of a criminal case (Crown & Defense). Each team is required to present with two lawyers and two witnesses. Lawyers will present Opening and Closing Arguments and conduct Direct and Cross Examinations. Witnesses should be prepared for a Direct and Cross Examination.
What do I do if no one on my team wants to be a witness?
There are pros and cons to each position on a Mock Trial team. That being said, each position contributes significantly to the success of a team. No position is weighed more or less heavily when calculating team performance.
Given that there are two sides to each case (Crown and Defense) and four team members, some teams find the most equitable solution is for each team member to present as a lawyer for one side (ex: Crown) while presenting as a witness for the other (ex: Defense). That way, each person has the opportunity to present as both a lawyer and a witness the same number of times. Of course, this is up to each team to determine for themselves. Some individuals may be better suited for or prefer different roles!
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