A team of students from Osgoode Hall Law School swept away the competition at the Julius Alexander Isaac Diversity Moot competition in Halifax, Nova Scotia on February 2.
Osgoode’s appellant team of Busayo Ayodele and Richard Lanns won the competition overall. Osgoode’s respondent team of Jeff Hernaez and Zorn Pink won the Best Factum Award and Ayodele was named Best Oralist. Third year Osgoode student Anushua Nag served as the team’s researcher. The team was coached by Roger Love and Virginia Nelder, lawyers at the African Canadian Legal Clinic.
The appellant and respondent teams from Osgoode edged out tough competition from students representing the faculties of law at the University of Toronto and the University of Ottawa, before competing in an all-Osgoode final round.
The Diversity Moot competition challenges participants to develop their advocacy skills in cases which involve diversity law, equity issues, human rights and anti-Black racism. The competition is open to law students across Canada.
This year, teams prepared written submissions and presented oral arguments in response to a fact pattern based on the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in Johnson v. General Motors of Canada Ltd.
In July 2013, the Court of Appeal overturned a decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice which found that Johnson, an African-Canadian employee, was subjected to a poisonous work environment due to racism at a General Motors plant.
The Court of Appeal also overturned the trial judge’s finding that Johnson was constructively dismissed when General Motors failed to provide Johnson with an alternate position that would prevent him from coming into contact with individuals that had engaged in discriminatory conduct.
At the Diversity Moot, appellant teams from each school presented arguments in support of striking down the Court of Appeal’s decision while the respondent teams argued that the decision should be upheld.
The Julius Alexander Isaac Diversity Moot competition was one of the many highlights of the Black Law Students’ Association of Canada’s 23rd Annual Conference. A portrait of the late Burnley Allan “Rocky” Jones, an esteemed African Canadian lawyer and activist, was also unveiled at the conference.
The Diversity Moot is named in honour of the late Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Appeal, Julius Alexander Isaac, who passed away on July 16, 2011. Isaac, born in Grenada, was the first Black judge to sit on a Federal Court in Canada.