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Charter Challenge

Ontario’s only mock appeal competition for secondary schools.

Each semester, OJEN releases a mock judicial decision in which complex Charter issues are raised on appeal. Students all over Ontario form teams and choose one side of the appeal to ‘represent.’ They research and write a factum with legal arguments in favour of the appellant or the respondent. OJEN staff review all the factums we receive and identify the best ones from each side. Those students are invited to make their arguments in person at the Court of Appeal for Ontario in Toronto, before a panel of real judges.

Calendar for the 2020 Spring Charter Challenge.

February 3: Registration opens

February 28: Registration closes

March 9: Materials distributed + Message boards open and available for registration

April 12-17: Online mentors available

May 1: Submissions due

May 25 to 29: Finalists make oral arguments at the Court of Appeal for Ontario

The case will be released on March 9 with the rest of the material. But here’s a short preview: an Indigenous woman is challenging a decision of the Ministry of Environment authorizing emissions of a pollutant, on the basis that it infringes on her rights to life, liberty, security and equality, under sections 7 and 15 of the Charter. She also claims that the infringement isn’t a reasonable limitation on these rights and therefore can’t be saved by section 1 of the Charter.

Students who liked our mock trials will love the Charter Challenge!

We choose Charter Challenge topics to appeal to students’ interests while touching on current issues with social and legal significance. Some recent Charter Challenge cases have involved:

  • The legality of police searches of cell phones
  • The right of mothers in prison to keep their young children with them
  • Whether parents can exclude children from sex education curriculum against the children’s will
  • Mental illness and the right to physician-assisted suicide
  • Random alcohol screening and the right against unreasonable search and seizure

To help students, OJEN provides:

  • Detailed guides for how to complete the legal analyses involved
  • Extra help with legal research, writing and citation
  • A factum template to make a professional-looking submission
  • Exemplars from previous competitions
  • Access to an online forum where students and teachers can share ideas and debate legal issues
  • Access to expert legal mentors, who will answer questions about the law and potential legal arguments
  • Dedicated staff to provide one-on-one communication and help for teachers

While the chance to compete for a place in the final appeal motivates many students to do their best, the real value of the Charter Challenge lies in the opportunity to use our materials to engage students in thinking about law, advocacy and society. As a teacher, you are welcome to sign up and use these supports as an in-class teaching and learning opportunity, whether or not your students complete a factum submission at the end of the term.

If you have any question, please contact Thomas Gallezot (416 761 9963 ext 230 or

Who’s Involved:

  • Grade 11 and 12 Law Students
  • Secondary School Teachers
  • Lawyer Mentors and Reviewers
  • Court of Appeal for Ontario

Curriculum Links

  • Understanding Canadian Law, Grade 11, University/College Preparation (CLU3M)
  • Canadian and International Law, Grade 12, University Preparation (CLN4U)


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