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Oxford’s law students have held their first moot court competition that specifically focuses on issues affecting people with disabilities. 

In simulated court proceedings in Keble College Chapel, the students put forward arguments for both the claimant and the defendant in a case hinging on the amount a claimant should claim in compensation after becoming disabled through being hit by a car.

The high profile group of panellists who spoke after the moot included artist Alison Lapper MBE, subject of the Marc Quinn sculpture ’Alison Lapper Pregnant’, which appeared  in Trafalgar Square and featured in the Paralympic opening ceremony. Other participants were Stephen Frost, the former Head of Diversity and Inclusion for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games; author and journalist Katharine Quarmby; and John Lish, Expert by Experience for the Barker Commission (chaired by Dame Katharine Mary Barker DBE FAcSS and set up to work with service users and people with disabilities to make recommendations about the Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England).

Lord Ken Macdonald QC, Warden of Wadham College and former Director of Public Prosecutions, who moderated the panel discussion, said: ’There is so much to be done to raise awareness of disability issues in Oxford and around the country and the Disability Mooting Championship is a brilliant and thought-provoking contribution to this much needed work. I hope it will become an established part of the Oxford legal calendar.’

The moot coincided with UK Disability History Month, which this year examines the link between disability and war. The law firm, Herbert Smith Freehills, supported the inaugural Herbert Smith Freehills Oxford Disability Mooting Championship.

Dan Hudson, co-sponsor of Herbert Smith Freehills’ Ability Network, commented: ’Since launching our network in April, we have sought to raise awareness of disability issues inside and outside the workplace, challenge perceptions and encourage sharing of information and dialogue. Our support of the Disability Mooting Championship and partnership with the Oxford Faculty of Law on this project is a real highlight of our first year.’

The Grand Final was judged by Professor Timothy Endicott, Dean of the Oxford Law Faculty; Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers KG PC, former President of the United Kingdom Supreme Court; Ian Gatt QC, Herbert Smith Freehills’ Head of the Advocacy Unit; and Helen Mountfield QC, Matrix Chambers.