The 2019/20 Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament ended in exceptional style on Thursday 4 June in what was the Society's first ever online final. In a break from tradition and it's usual setting of the Scottish Parliament's Debating Chamber, the final was held remotely via video-conference featuring a short introductory speech recorded by Linda Fabiani MSP.  Watch the full recording here.

William Adams and Mhairi Kinihan, from Peebles High School, were chosen as tournament winners after proposing the motion ‘This House would introduce a Universal Basic Income' against The Royal High School.

Balfron High School's Curtis McLerie and Finn Thompson came a close second after proposing opponents from Fortrose Academy and were awarded the runners-up prize for a second year running.

Congratulations also go to Thomas Fox and Edie Matthewson, Fortrose Academy, and Laura Young and Emma Shopland, The Royal High School, who also battled their way through earlier rounds (including the semi-final rounds which were postponed and held online due to the outbreak of Covid19, school closures and lockdown restrictions) to compete in the finals. 

Pupils from our finalist schools as well as Wellington School, Broxburn Academy, St Columba's RC High School and Hamilton Grammar School also joined remotely to take part in the floor debates during which Grace Dewar from St Columba's RC High School was awarded a £50 book token for the best floor speech of the evening.

President of the Law Society of Scotland, Amanda Millar, said: “I was so impressed by the amazing quality of debating displayed in this year’s final and the passionate, skilled arguments put forward by all the pupils.  I congratulate Mhairi and William on their win and commend the six other finalists for their performances - they were more-than-worthy opponents and it was not an easy decision for the judges to make.  The finalists’ success is well deserved and all of the 64 schools that took part in this year’s tournament should be very proud of their achievements."

Publishers Hodder Gibson (represented on the evening by Rosie Howie) sponsored the event and William and Mhairi will be presented with the tournament award and £1,000 for their school from the Law Society at a later date. Runners up, Balfron High School, will receive £250 from the Glasgow Bar Association (represented on the evening by Vice President, Fiona McKinnon. All finalists will receive book tokens and commemorative gifts and tournament sponsors, Hodder Gibson Publishers, also donate educational books to the value of £500, to be shared by the winners and runners-up.

Read the full press release here.




Motions debated in previous rounds included:
  • 'This House would introduce compulsory National Civic Service for all 15 and 16 year olds.
  • ‘This House believes the BBC should be privatised.’
  • ‘This House believes reality TV does more harm than good'
Judging the final were:
  • Adam McKinlay, Presiding (Axiom Advocates)
  • Victoria Lane (Brodies),
  • David Dickson (Scottish Sentencing Council)
Chairperson for the final was:
  • Andrew McPake (Craigmount High School)

Whether you are experienced or new to debating - get involved with Scotland's biggest high school debating competition today. Debating is a great way to not only start learning and developing new skills but it can also help to improve your public speaking skills and develop your self-confidence. David Blair, past participant and now a judge in the tournament, explains how being involved has helped him in his role as a solicitor.

How the debate works

Learn about the Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament format, rules and timescales.

Information for teams

Find out how to enter a team for the debate and read case studies from past competitors.

Information for judges

Whether you're a law student, a trainee, a practicing or retired solicitor or just love debating, we'd love to hear from you!