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 competition takes the form of an appeal before a Canadian court of last resort, bringing together law students, judges, leadings lawyers and legal academics to explore cutting-edge environmental law issues.The inaugural 2011 competition focused on the measure of damages for contaminated land. The 2013 competition considered the evolution of nuisance, negligence and strict liability, and asked competitors to consider whether the Court should recognize a new environmental tort. In 2015, the competitors considered nuisance and the defence of statutory authority after the construction of a major public transit line in Vancouver disrupted many businesses. In 2017, the Moot competition case was Midwest v. Thordarson, 2015 ONCA 819. In 2019, the Moot competition case was Orphan Well Association v Grant Thornton Limited, 2017 ABCA 124 and in 2022, the Moot competition case was an appeal to the Supreme Environmental Moot Court of Canada of the Supreme Court of Canada’s (“SCC”) decision in the References re Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, 2021 SCC 11.
The moot is open to all Canadian law schools. Teams consist of two or three students enrolled in a JD/bachelor of laws or equivalent degree program. Each team files a factum for one party. At the oral hearing, teams argue one side of the appeal in their first match and the other side in their second. The playoff and final matches are judged by senior appellate judges. Teams present their factums and oral argument in English.