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University of Ottawa moot team wins the John Jackson World Trade Organization Moot in Geneva

The University of Ottawa won the John Jackson World Trade Organization (WTO) Moot in June 2023. The moot team was successful at the final international round after winning the All-American Regional Round in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in March 2023. The final round had brought together 24 teams who had advanced from the regional rounds that took place in various parts of the world. In addition to winning the Grand Final oral round in front of prominent international trade lawyers including a former WTO Appellate Body member, the University of Ottawa team won the top prize for best written submissions.

The team was comprised of Ian Chesney, Jaena Kim, and Charlotte Wong Labow, all common law students at Fateux Hall. Kevin R. Gray and Dean MacDougall, counsel at the Trade Law Bureau at Global Affairs Canada, coached the team.

The John H. Jackson Moot Court Competition is an annual moot competition that started in 2003. The moot hearings are conducted pursuant to the rules of the WTO dispute settlement system, involving pleadings made by both the complainant and the respondent. While pleading, students are subject to rigorous questions from the panel. The parties to the dispute assert and defend claims of violations of the WTO Agreements although much of the argumentation raises broader international law issues including the application of customary international law rules of treaty interpretation.

This year’s dispute involved a seizure of COVID-19 vaccines issued under the authority of a compulsory license by a WTO Member. The respondent seized the vaccines while they were in transit through its territory on the grounds that the seizure was inconsistent with the recent Decision of the Ministers of WTO Members to waive certain provisions of the WTO TRIPS Agreement for the purpose of issuing compulsory licences in order to address the COVID-19 emergency and the unavailability of vaccines in developing country WTO Members. The dispute pitted the achievement of global public health objectives against the need for intellectual property protection.

The team’s victory marked the first time a Canadian university has won the John H. Jackson Moot Court competition since its inception 21 years ago. It is a remarkable achievement for a Canadian university to win the competition and a fitting testament to the hard work, commitment to excellence, and strong teamwork shown by the students.

The CCIL offers sincere congratulations to the University of Ottawa moot team for its outstanding performance and welcomes the winning team to the Canadian international law community.


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