February 21, 2019 @ 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Room CL205, Collins Suite, Collins Building, University of Strathclyde
22 Richmond St
Glasgow G1 1XH

The Great Medico-Legal Debate 2019

‘In what ways, if at all, should the best interest test with regard to care of children be reformed?’

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 your 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 University of Glasgow Law or Medical school student (undergraduate or LLM), or a Strathclyde Law 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!

Information for potential participants

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


Date: Thursday 21st February 2019, 5:30-8.30pm (including reception).

Venue: University of Strathclyde, Collins Suite, Room CL205, Collins Building, 22 Richmond Street, Glasgow G1 1XH

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:University of Edinburgh attendees at the Great Medico-Legal Debate 2019 will be reimbursed for their transportation costs. Please note that reimbursement will only be provided for coach (Megabus) transportation to and from Glasgow, and only for those University of Edinburgh staff or students who have registered on the Eventbrite page for the debate. Attendees must retain all copies of coach tickets, payment and receipt. Following the event, please email Agnieszka Czechon (Agnieszka.Czechon@ed.ac.uk) to obtain a copy of reimbursement form. Please complete the form and then submit the form, along with original copies of your tickets and receipts, to Agnieszka Czechon, Mason Institute (B.07), School of Law, University of Edinburgh, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh EH8 9YL

Motion:  “This House believes that the best interest test with regard to care of children should be reformed.”

As demonstrated by the recent high-profile media cases of Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans, there are live questions around whether the ‘best interests test’ is fit for purpose in an era of increasing importance of patient and parental autonomy. Long-standing debate rivals, Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Strathclyde will consider issues of medical law and ethics arising over possible changes to the best interests test.

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

Edinburgh team: 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/Strathclyde 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 (doors open at 5:30pm, with a wine and food reception to follow the debate). There will be an invited audience, and the debate will be chaired by Dr Agomoni Ganguli-Mitra, Co-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 2019.)

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. A University academic will be invited to act 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 2019