1.1 Resolutions will be announced 15 minutes prior to the scheduled starting time of the debate. Any travelling time to the venue of the debate is part of the 15 minutes. Teams are expected to be punctual.
1.2 No extensions of time shall be granted to teams which arrive late for preparation. Any team failing to arrive within 10 minutes of the scheduled starting time for a debate may, at the organisers' discretion, be given a score of zero for that debate.
Structure of Debates
2.1 All debates will be British Parliamentary in style. There are four teams per debate. Each team consists of two debaters. The two teams affirming the resolution are known as the Opening and Closing Government and the two teams negating are referred to as the Opening and Closing Opposition. The debaters are, subject to these rules, treated as though they were members of a parliament in the Westminster system. All debates will be conducted in the English language.
2.2 The organisers will appoint a Speaker ("the Speaker") for each debate. All Members of the House shall refer to the Speaker as Mr or Madam Speaker during the debate. The Speaker is responsible for calling upon the members to speak and keeping order.
2.3 The organisers will appoint a Chairperson of adjudicators for each debate (the "Chairperson"). The Chairperson is responsible for appointing a timekeeper and, subject to these rules, deciding on any aspect of the procedure of the debate that may be in dispute. The Chairperson may also be the Speaker.
2.4 Members will be called on to speak by the Speaker (as directed by the Chairperson) in the following order:
Opening Government 1st Speech
Opening Opposition 1st Speech
Opening Government 2nd Speech
Opening Opposition 2nd Speech
Closing Government 1st Speech
Closing Opposition 1st Speech
Closing Government 2nd Speech
Closing Opposition 2nd Speech
Time Limits on Speeches
3.1 Each speech shall be 7 minutes in length. Members speaking who exceed that time limit by more than 20 seconds, will face marking penalties in the Method category (see 6 below).
3.2 The timekeeper will give time signals at one minute, six minutes and seven minutes after the commencement of each member's speech.
4.1 The main right and obligation to define the resolution lies with the Opening Government team.
4.2 Definition should be reasonable. There must be a clear logical link between the resolution, the definition and the argument.
4.3 The Opposition shall only be entitled to substitute another definition for that of the Government on the grounds that the Government definition bears no reasonable relation to the resolution, it is tautological, or will lead to an argument which is circular or truistic. The Opposition is not entitled to substitute another definition merely on the grounds that theirs is more reasonable.
4.4 "Squirreling" and "Time Setting" are absolutely prohibited.
Roles of Teams
5.1 The role of the Government teams is to support the resolution. They must provide constructive material and arguments in support of their case.
5.2 The role of the Opposition is to oppose the resolution. The Opposition teams are not, strictly speaking, obliged to provide constructive material in support of their case. However, it is highly desirable that positive material and argument be presented by the Opposition. This should be reflected in marking in the Matter and Method categories (see 6 below).
Marking of individual speeches
6.1 Each speech will be marked out of 100, divided into three categories. (a) Matter 40 marks (b) Manner 40 marks (c) Method 20 marks
An average score is 75 marks. The main criterion for marking any speech is how persuasive it is in support of its side of the resolution, in the context of the debate. The marking categories exist to assist adjudicators with the evaluation of this.
6.2 Matter consists of arguments and examples used. Marks will be awarded for them on the basis of their relevance to the debate, and on their development, explanatory value and interest value. Marks will also be awarded for skilful and effective rebuttal of material introduced by the other side.
6.3 Method Consists of: (a) The effectiveness, structure and organisation of each individual speech; (b) The effectiveness, structure and organisation of each team's case as a whole; and, (c) The extent to which a member speaking and his or her team react appropriately to the dynamics of the debate, including setting up, or continuing her or his side of the resolution, and opposing the other side of the resolution.
6.4 Manner is the style in which material is introduced and will be assessed on the basis of whether or not it is appropriate to the material presented. The criteria for assessing a member's manner shall be how attractively and persuasively she or he presents his or her argument to the audience. Adjudicators shall mark favourably any kind of manner which achieves this. While manner should maintain the interest of the audience and adjudicators, it should also assist the argument being made. For example, humour is appreciated, but will score few marks if it does not advance the argument.
6.5 Both the offering and the acceptance of points of information (see 8 below) shall be marked under the three categories as applicable.
Matter marks shall be awarded for the content of both points offered and responses to points accepted. Method marks shall be allocated for the effective use of points when offered and how well they are controlled and responded to. Manner marks shall be awarded for the style in which the points are offered and responded to.
7.1 No new matter shall be introduced in either closing team's second speech. An argument or material is new matter unless: (a) it has been previously used in the debate; or (b) it is introduced for the purpose of rebutting or replying to an argument or material previously introduced.
Points of Information
8.1 A point of information is an interjection which raises some point of importance or attempts to correct a member speaking. It should be brief, pertinent, and witty.
8.2 The member speaking has absolute discretion whether or not to yield to another member who is offering a point of information.
8.3 No point of information may exceed 15 seconds.
8.4 No points of information are permitted during the first or the final minute of a speech. There will be time signals at one minute and six minutes for this purpose.
8.5 Only a member from the opposite side of the House to the member speaking may offer a point of information. A point of information is offered by the member standing in her or his place and putting a hand on his or her head, or otherwise indicating.
8.6 The member speaking may choose to accept the point by motioning or indicating verbally, or may choose to refuse the point in similar ways. Once a point has been refused, the member offering it should sit down and await a later opportunity.
8.7 A member speaking is not obliged to take any points. However, a failure to take any, or continual acceptance of points causing detriment to his or her substantive speech, should not be regarded favourably by the adjudicator(s). It is recommended that approximately two points be accepted per speech. There is, however, no strict limit.
8.8 Once a point has been accepted, the member speaking should not respond to the point until either member offering the point has finished it, or the 15 seconds has expired. It is not wise to cut the point off or speak over the point while it is being offered.
8.9 A bell will be rung by the Timekeeper 15 seconds after the point has been accepted, if the offeror of the point has not concluded. The member offering the point must then conclude immediately and sit down.
Decision of Debate
9.1 The adjudicator(s) of each debate will be allocated by the organisers prior to each round.
9.2 Once the debate is concluded, the Chairperson will either send the teams and any audience out of the room, or retire to a convenient place, and deliberate upon the result of the debate, with other members of the panel of adjudicators (if any).
9.3 All four teams must be ranked by the adjudicator(s). Subject to rule 1.2, the best team must be awarded three (3) points, the second best two (2), the third best one (1), and the worst zero (0). The adjudicator(s) should be guided in their ranking by the marking of individual members' speeches, but are not bound by it.
9.4 If a panel of adjudicator(s) cannot agree, then the decision of the majority shall prevail. If there is no majority in favour of a particular outcome, the decision of the Chairperson shall prevail.
9.5 Each adjudicator will record her or his scoring of the speeches in the debate on the form provided by the organisers. The overall decision of the adjudicators will be entered by the Chairperson on his or her form provided by the organisers. Forms must be given to the organisers within twenty minutes of the conclusion of the debate.
Structure of Competition
10.1 The competition will consist of: (a) nine preliminary rounds in which all teams compete, based on a "Swiss Draw" (power matched); and (b) four final rounds, in which the 32 teams that perform best in the preliminary rounds will compete on a knockout basis.
Disputes and Amendment
11.1 Any dispute concerning the interpretation of these rules will be decided by the Chief Adjudicator, whose decision will be final.
11.2 The organisers have the right to add or to alter these rules at any time, including after the commencement of the competition.