Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers, in partnership with Osgoode Hall Law School, Launches the first ever Canada-Wide Environmental Law Moot!

Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moot from Curio on Vimeo.

"Long overdue!" "A tremendous success!" That’s how participating lawyers, judges and students described the inaugural Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moot, held on February 19, 2011 at the Ontario Court of Appeal in Toronto.

Founded by Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP, in partnership with Osgoode Hall Law School, the competition attracted eight teams of law students from across the country to argue one of the most fundamental and controversial issues in environmental law today – quantum of damages for contaminated land. The students argued the case of Cousins v. McColl-Frontenac Inc., where a property owner sought damages for the contamination of his land by a major oil company.

The tournament was the brainchild of Osgoode professor Stepan Wood, who long ago noted the absence of a Canadian moot court competition dedicated to environmental law. He approached the head of the litigation group at Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers, Marc McAree, who embraced the idea with enthusiasm. After two years of hard work, students and coaches from Osgoode, Queen’s University, the University of Ottawa, the University of Toronto, Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law and the University of Victoria descended on the Court of Appeal to argue the case, after having filed written arguments in January.

The tournament was judged by leading environmental law practitioners and judges, many of whom commented on the high level of advocacy demonstrated throughout. Four teams advanced to the semi-final round. Queen’s University and the University of Toronto advanced to the final round, arguing the championship match before an illustrious panel of Justice Thomas Cromwell of the Supreme Court of Canada, Justices Michael Moldaver and Robert Armstrong of the Ontario Court of Appeal, Justice Katherine van Rensburg of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, and the former Chair of the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal, Toby Vigod.

Sean Miller, Stephen Ronan and Patrick Stratton of Queen’s University, coached by Professor Bruce Pardy, took home the Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moot Championship trophy. Sean Miller also won the award for First Place Oralist. The University of Toronto and Dalhousie were the Second and Third Place teams.

The award for Best Appellant’s Factum, named after the late Barry Nelson Spiegel (1951-2009) of Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP, was won by University of Toronto’s Joanna Kyriazis and Ryan Walker. The award for Best Respondent’s Factum, named after Osgoode professor and environmental law pioneer, D. Paul Emond, was won by Dalhousie University’s Leslie Bateman and Brigid Wilkinson.

Distinguished Oralist awards were also presented to Julia Werneburg of the University of Ottawa, Leslie Bateman of Dalhousie University, and Sean Miller and Patrick Stratton, both of Queen’s University.

In the tournament’s spirit of innovation and sustainability, the Championship trophy and mini-awards were all one-of-a-kind creations made by a local Ontario artist, Jamie Brick, using antique objects and hand-carved driftwood.

The event was a tremendous success on all fronts made possible by our sponsors, volunteers, legal practitioners and judges. Special thanks to Jeremy McCracken and his team at Curio Film Studios, Inc., who worked tirelessly to capture every moment of the day. Special thanks must also be given to staff at the Law Society of Upper Canada who provided exceptional service and catering throughout the day and into the evening for the awards banquet. And last but not least, Bob Matthews and Bob Sparkes, of the Osgoode Hall Commissionaires, who provided security access and logistical support leading up to and during the event. The event was a resounding success. We are already looking forward to the next edition.


Champion Team


Shown in this photo: Coach Bruce Pardy, Sean Miller, Stephen Ronan and Patrick Stratton.

Second Place Team


Shown in this photo: Heather Burnett, The Honourable Justice Thomas Cromwell and Camille Labchuk

Third Place Team


Shown in this photo: Leslie Bateman and Brigid Wilkinson

First Place Oralist

Sean Miller, Queen's University

Distinguished Oralists

Julia Werneburg, Team 5, University of Ottawa

Sean Miller, Team 2, Queen’s University

Leslie Bateman, Team 6, Dalhousie University

Patrick Stratton, Team 2, Queen’s University

The Barry Nelson Spiegel Award for the Best Appellant's Factum

University of Toronto, Joanna Kyriazis and Ryan Walker

The D. Paul Emond Award for the Best Respondent's Factum

Dalhousie University, Leslie Bateman and Brigid Wilkinson

Congratulations to all teams for a job well done.