When Halton OJEN Committee Chair, Inga Andriessen, heard that lawyers from a local law firm had been granted leave to argue a case at the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC), she recognized the rare learning opportunity it presented for local high school students. She arranged with the lawyers involved to address Halton area law classes by webinar. Their presentation outlined the steps that led to appealing the case to the SCC. It also offered insight into how they were preparing for their day at Canada’s highest court.
During the fascinating one hour webinar session on March 30th, Fareen Jamal and Fadwa Yahia from Jamal Family Law, discussed the family law case known as F v N, which they subsequently argued before the Supreme Court on April 12th. The case involved a father who wished to have his two young children returned to him. He lived in the United Arab Emirates, while the mother lived in Ontario. The case touched on the principle of “best interests of the child”.
In preparation for the webinar, students received all of the previous decisions that led to the appeal. They were also provided with factums and the links to the appeal at the Supreme Court of Canada, including web login information for the hearing date.
Among the topics discussed during the webinar:
- What is leave to appeal to the SCC and under what circumstances is it granted?
- What is a dissenting judge?
- What is the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction?
- What are Interveners and what is their role?
Students from ten different schools in the Halton region participated in the webinar. Teachers commented that the webinar added great value to their students’ appreciation and understanding of the Supreme Court of Canada. Hearing first hand from the lawyers at the centre of the appeal helped students understand how the lives of real people are impacted in the SCC cases they read about in law textbooks.
According to the Halton Committee, the program came together easily. Since the background materials already existed, there was no need to create resources for teachers. The committee promoted the webinar to all of the school boards and private schools in the region and received enthusiastic responses. The most challenging aspect of organizing the webinar was working around the availability of the lawyers. The committee was also mindful that counsel were speaking before argument. For this reason, although the webinar was held before the lawyers argued their case at the SCC, we did not post it on the OJEN website until after the hearing date.