February 20, 2018 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Room LG.11, David Hume Tower
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9JX

The Great Medico-Legal Debate 2018

‘Should the UK government change the current policy for childhood immunisation?’

If you wish to register to come along as an audience member then please register with Eventbrite as an audience member.  However, if you are considering taking part as a member of one of the debate teams then please read on for some further information about what this will involve and how to reserve you place on a team.

We are delighted that you are considering taking part as a debate team member. Below is some additional information that we hope will help to inform your decision. If you are a University of Edinburgh or Glasgow Law or Medical school student (undergraduate or LLM) and would like to join a team, please send an email to annie.sorbie@ed.ac.uk, copied to edward.dove@ed.ac.uk, as soon as possible, as multidisciplinary teams will be selected on a first come, first served basis (more detail below).

We will aim to respond to all expressions of interest, and you will be informed in due course whether or not you have been selected for a team. If not, we will operate a waiting list, and hope that you will come along to support your colleagues and form part of the voting audience!

If you would like to come to the debate as an audience member, then please sign up to do so on Eventbrite.

Information for potential participants

This is provisional and further, confirmed information will follow nearer the date of the debate

Date: Tuesday 20th February 2018, 6:00-8.30pm (including reception). Bus departs for Glasgow at 8.30pm.

Venue: University of Edinburgh, Room LG.11 in the David Hume Tower

Organisers: Your key contacts for this event are Annie Sorbie, Lecturer in Medical Law and Ethics, and Edward Dove, Lecturer in Risk and Regulation, both of the Mason Institute (see email contact details above).

Transport: The Mason Institute will arrange coach hire for up to 20 participants to travel from Glasgow University, leaving from a convenient location at around 3pm (as we anticipate that a public health law seminar delivered by Professor John Coggon will take place before the debate from 4.30-6pm).  These arrangements are provisional at this time, and further information on travel will follow.

Motion:  “This House believes that the UK government should change the current policy for childhood immunisation.”

In contrast with other countries, there is no legal obligation in the UK for parents to immunise their children against certain diseases. Rather, it is a matter of parental choice. Debate rivals, Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, will consider issues of human rights and public health arising over changes to childhood immunisation policy.

Glasgow: Once teams have been selected, a coin toss will decide which team is arguing for and against the motion.

Edinburgh: Once teams have been selected, a coin toss will decide which team is arguing for and against the motion.

Teams: Each team captain will lead a team consisting of five members, comprised of law students and medical students. The teams will be selected on a first come, first served basis, although to ensure that the teams are multidisciplinary we will aim for a 3:2 ratio between team members from each discipline.  The organiser’s decision on team selections are final.

Team captains: The team captains for Glasgow and Edinburgh will be responsible for organising team meetings, practice sessions and liaising with the Mason Institute to discuss debate logistics.  If you are willing to be a team captain please let us know when you indicate your desire to join a team.

Format: The debate is anticipated to last around 1hr 30mins, commencing at 6:00pm (with a reception to follow). There will be an invited audience, and the debate will be chaired by Professor Graeme Laurie, Founding Member and Director of the Mason Institute. Members of both teams will prepare submissions for or against and will be permitted to see a ‘skeleton’ outline of the arguments to be made by either side beforehand to prepare counter-arguments. (Submissions to opposing teams will be due around the beginning of February 2018.)

The event will not be a traditional moot – the chair will not interrupt the arguments of either team and team members may not respond outwith the allocated response timings (to follow in due course). There will be a time keeper to let each speaker know when they have 1 minute left and also when their time has finished. Professor John Coggon of Bristol University has been invited as the impartial, expert judge to determine the victor.

Furthermore, the invited audience will be asked to vote for or against the motion both before and after arguments. The audience vote tallies will be announced after the expert judge has rendered the decision.

Three members of your team (including the team captain) will set out substantive arguments for or against the motion; the other two team members will set out the counter-arguments to the opposing team’s points. The team captain begins submissions for their teams and provides closing arguments. Exact timings will be confirmed nearer the time.



The Great Medico-Legal Debate 2018 ‘Should the UK government change the current policy for childhood immunisation?’