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The Great Medico-Legal Debate 2022

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Edinburgh Law School


Thu 24 February 2022

The Mason Institute is delighted to announce the re-launch of the Great Medico-Legal Debate for 2022. In a new format this year, the event will take the form of a debate competition featuring teams from Glasgow universities against Edinburgh universities, debating motions of the theme of ‘children, medicine and the law’.


General Note: If you wish to register to come along as an audience member, then please register with Eventbrite. 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.


Information for potential debate team members

We are delighted that you are considering taking part as a debate team member for the Great Medico-Legal Debate 2022. Below is some additional information that we hope will help to inform your decision. If you are a University student (undergraduate or LLM) at Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier, Strathclyde, Glasgow, or Glasgow Caledonian, and would like to join a team, please send an email to, copied to, 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 24th February 2022, 4:30-8.30pm (including reception).

Venue: Venue TBC (at University of Edinburgh)


Organisers: Your key contacts for this event are Edward Dove, Lecturer in Health Law and Regulation, and Ruby Reed-Berendt, Research Associate and PhD candidate at Edinburgh Law School, both of the Mason Institute (see email contact details above).

Great Medico-Legal Debate 2022 theme: Children, Medicine and the Law

The rights and interests of children and young people in the medical arena are never far from the headlines, with many recent court cases and policy developments across the UK, concerning medical futility and end of life, the right to receive or try experimental treatment, participation in research, and children and mental health, to name a few. These various issues raise numerous questions about children’s autonomy, parental involvement, access to treatment, and the role of law in managing such questions.

For this year’s Great Medico-Legal Debate, a competition will take place between multiple teams of three students, debating various questions on the theme of “Children, Medicine and the Law”.

The competition will take the form of either a “round robin” or “knockout” format (depending on final numbers), with a final round between the best two Edinburgh and Glasgow teams. Teams from Glasgow and from Edinburgh will debate a different motion for each round on the broad theme of children. Topics for debate are likely to include consent to experimental treatment; children as participants in research; children and reproduction; and children and mental health. Specific debate questions/topics will be determined once the Glasgow and Edinburgh teams are finalised. This means that each team should prepare for up to four different debate motions, depending on whether they advance to the next (and final) rounds.

Glasgow teams (Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Strathclyde): Once teams have been selected, a coin toss will decide which team is arguing for and against the motions.

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

Teams: Each team captain will lead a team consisting of three members, comprised of law students and medical students. The teams will be selected on a first come, first served basis, although the organisers will aim to ensure that the teams are multidisciplinary and include both undergraduate and postgraduate students. The organiser’s decision on team selections are final.

Team captains: The team captains for each team 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: Each debate is anticipated to last around 30 minutes, commencing at 5:00pm (doors open at 4:30pm, with a wine and food reception to follow the debate). There will be an invited audience, and the debates will be chaired (chairs TBD).

Specifically, the format for each debate round will be: • Team member 1 for will open their arguments (5 min)• Team member 1 against will open their arguments (5 min)• Team member 2 for will respond to team member 1 against (5 min)• Team member 2 against will respond to team members 1 & 2 for (5 min)• Team member 3 for will summarise their position (5 min)• Team member 3 against will summarise their position (5 min)

This equates to 5 minutes oral debate time for each team member, which makes each debate last approximately 30 minutes.

The Great Medico-Legal Debate is not a traditional moot – the chairs will not interrupt the arguments of either team and team members may not respond outwith the allocated response timings. There will be a timekeeper to let each speaker know when they have 1 minute left and also when their time has finished. One or more members of the academic or legal community will be invited to act as impartial, expert judges to determine the winning team in each round.

Etiquette and safety: The Great Medico-Legal Debate takes place in an environment of respect and care for all persons, including debate team members. This means that the debate must be conducted in full accordance with the Edinburgh University Students’ Association Safe Space Policy, such that an environment is maintained in which all students, staff, and visitors feel welcome, respected, and able to fully participate in the debate.

Image Credit: Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

Event Link

Register as an audience member on Eventbrite