Tuesday 7 March 2017

Supreme Court: ICLR OU mooting competition grand final

My safe word is remain.

That’s how I was going to begin this post when I thought that the case behind today's competition was R v Brown (Operation Spanner), about consent to sado-masochistic acts which incur actual bodily harm. I was polishing an analogy with Brexit.

But I hadn’t read the brief properly so I prepared for the wrong case. Are barristers’ nightmares made of this? Plus being bombarded by what Lady Hale cheerfully calls horrible questions? Quick, what’s the test for calculating the measure of damages in contract? What’s the test for direct discrimination? What are the facts of Schnorbus v Land Hessen?

Lady Hale is judging the ICLR Open University Law Society mooting competition. The level of nerves looks normal – even starry QCs can blush or address Lady Hale as ‘my Lord’, so the four finalists have nothing to worry about on that score.

Jacqueline Roque by Picasso

This court is not judgmental about looks but the Erin-O’Connor/Jacqueline-Roque-looking finalist can come back and model for Picasso.

The moot question involves a gay wedding, religious convictions and a contract to supply photography and catering.

I am pathetically relieved to see that I know a little about two of the authorities mentioned in the notes – Preddy v Bull, which I sat in on here as Bull v Hall, and Gough v the UK concerning the Naked Rambler, two of whose appearances I attended at Winchester Crown Court.

Top tip for contestants: if there’s a microphone, it’s your friend, so know where it is. Old hands take time to adjust a desk mike if necessary.

Another tip: criteria plural, criterion singular. That gets clocked here. Along with everything else.

And a final tip for life from Lady Hale: ‘When you realise you’re on to a loser, you move on to the next point.’

After giving what is in effect a tutorial, she compliments the finalists on standing up to her interrogation very well. ‘I must be a natural sadist,’ says Lady Hale.

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