Match Rules

A “team” is a group of students contesting an Ethics Cup tournament.  By contrast, any given match is contested by two “squads”.  A squad is a group of 3-5 students drawn from a team.  Squad composition must be determined before the first case is announced, after which point it cannot be changed.

The Team Manager is permitted to be in the room with their students during the match but may not communicate with his/her team.  Any team member may bring a bottle with them to the table; nothing else is allowed.  Paper and pens/pencils will already be on the table.  All materials will be collected at the end of each match by the timekeeper or room staffer.

The timekeeper will keep official time of each period of the match.  Teams may use their own timers, as long as the timer isn’t a device that stores data or connects to the internet.  Also, teams may not time the portions of the match when the other team speaks or confers.  The timekeeper can allow a team to finish a sentence/thought once time has expired.

[In-person only: All teams will get two standardized time notifications from the moderator during their Presentations: one when three minutes remain and one when one minute remains.  During the Commentary and Response portions, the moderator will give notifications when one minute remains.  During the Dialogue portions, the moderator will notify the panel when there are two minutes remaining.  Prior to the match starting, moderators will consult with teams to determine whether they prefer verbal or physical (a hand gesture, visual representation, etc.) reminders.]

The timekeeper controls the room during matches and should address any unacceptable behaviour including, but not limited to:

  • Judges showing hostility or asking inappropriate questions to team members. Inappropriate questions include, but are not limited to, any that highlight a participant’s race, religion, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, appearance, etc.  Judges should direct their constructive questions to teams, not to individuals.
  • Foul, insulting, or excessively graphic language or confrontational behaviour being used by participants or judges.
  • [In-person only: Coaches, parents, or audience members communicating—verbally or non-verbally—or demonstrably reacting to team members.  Also, anyone in the room making distracting noises while one of the teams, judges, or moderator has the floor.  Please note, the timekeeper can control only the noise within the match room.  If there are outside distractions, such as construction or students talking, it is up to the timekeeper, not a coach or parent, to decide if the match should be paused.]

When one team confers or speaks, the other team and audience members must remain silent, although writing and passing notes is permitted.  (For example, when Team A is given the case and question and is subsequently allowed to confer for two minutes and present for six minutes, Team B is permitted to write notes, but not permitted to speak, during that eight minutes.)

For online matches only: 

  • To a certain extent the honour system will be relied on, as the timekeeper cannot be expected to know everything that is happening in the rooms where the teams are located.  The judges will be instructed to take points away from any team seen to be cheating.
  • All participants must be within the frame of the video before the match starts.  No participant may step out of frame, nor turn off their video, before the match is over.   The team manager must never appear in frame.
  • Team members may put blank paper, an unmarked copy of the case set, writing utensils, and bottles—but nothing else—on a table in front of them before the match starts.  Nothing else may be brought to the tables during the match.  Also, whatever device each team member is using for its camera–whether a smart phone, tablet, laptop or desktop–that device must be used for nothing other than its camera and for communicating remotely with other participants.
  • Throughout the match the timekeeper will control which team is muted and which team is unmuted at any given time; teams will be unmuted only when it is their turn to speak.  During the Presentation, Commentary, Response, and Dialogue periods, the screen will display a clock counting down the time remaining.  The timekeeper will not give time warnings during those periods, with the assumption being that the teams will watch the clock.