Our debates are based on the rules and procedures of the House of Commons.
Composition of a team:
Each team is composed of at least one coach and no more than eight debaters.
Coaches are not allowed to debate. Besides coaching their team, their role consists in representing their team at the FDA meeting and taking part in the organization of the tournament, including the debates involving their team.
To qualify to participate in a debate, the team must be composed of:
- no more than 8 people per team, 5 debaters per team per debate;
- at least 2 French native speakers (regardless of nationality);
- no more than 2 English native speakers per team, 1 per debate;
- no more than 2 bilingual speakers per team, 1 per debate (defined as someone who has spent five years or more in an English-speaking educational institution or someone with at least one parent who is a native speaker);
- no more than 2 returnees per team, 1 per debate (defined as someone who has already participated in the FDA tournament, regardless of the year of their participation).
- a student cannot participate more than twice in the Tournament, even if he plays for a different team.
Each team has four days to prepare the debate. Indeed, four days before the match the motion of the debate is disclosed to the debaters (as well as which team will be the government and which team will be the opposition in the case of play-offs, the semi-finals and the final). For semi-finals, debate preparation time is limited to 4 days while debate preparation time for the final is 7 days.
The motions are chosen by the FDA committee composed of the coaches and the board. They are attributed randomly.
During the pool phase, the Government (the side which proposes the motion) is the host team and the Opposition is the visiting team. For the semi-finals and the final, which take place in a neutral location, those sides are attributed randomly.
For the pool phase, each team will host a debate and travel for a debate. The coach of the host team will have to organize the debate: find a room, a chairman and a timekeeper, provides some food and drinks (which can be reimbursed by the FDA).
In the Paris V debating style, five speakers from the Government and five speakers from the Opposition speak consecutively for 6 minutes each. The debate starts with the first speaker of the Government, then the first speaker of the Opposition and so forth.
Speakers may be interrupted in two ways:
- by a Point of Information (PoI), made by standing up with one’s hand on one’s head or one’s hand outstretched – the speaker may or may not choose to accept the Point of Information, but is obliged to accept at least one and expected to accept two during his or her speech. Acceptance or refusal of a POI should be made clear, either verbally or through a gesture. POIs are included in the timing of the speech. They are used by the opposite team to throw the speaker off balance and highlight the weaknesses in his or her argumentation. POIs are short, concise and usually open-ended questions. When accepting a POI, the speaker should seize the opportunity to dismiss the point as incorrect and irrelevant.
- by a Point of Order (PoO), made directly to the chairman who must accept it. It concerns the running or the procedure of the debate and is not included in the timing of the speech. A Point of Order may only come from the ten speakers participating in the debate.
The 1st and the 6th minutes of the speech are protected time: no POI may be asked. Between the beginning of the 2nd and the end of the 5th minute, the speaker may be interrupted by POIs from the opposite side.
The five speakers of each team may speak quietly among themselves during the debate but must not disturb thespeaker. The coach is not allowed to communicate with his/her team during the debate.
Use of props is discouraged.
The Chairperson fulfils various functions. He or she introduces the debate, by reminding the audience of the Paris V debating rules, introducing the motion, the proposition and opposition speakers. He or she alternately gives the floor to the proposition and the opposition, and checks that the rules are enforced. He or she must accept all points of order and rule on them. When the jury retires to deliberate , the chairperson gives the floor to the audience.
The Chairperson must remain neutral at all times during the main debate (as long as the jury is present) and must not be seen to take sides. Having said that, once the jury has retired for deliberation, the Chairman is entirely at liberty to express his/her own views on the motion and often will do so in order to encourage and provoke comment from the floor.
The bell-person is the time keeper of the debate. He or she must indicate the first and fifth minute of the speech, often by ringing a bell, and also ring longer and louder when the six minutes are over.
The counter starts after the speaker is done with his/her address.
The jury is composed of:
- 1 coach-judge (or former coach) and 2 former debaters for a pool debate;
- 1 coach-judge (or former coach) and 4 to 6 former debaters for a semi-final;
- 7 personalities for the final.
The judges are not only supposed to choose the winner of the debate (see adjudication criteria) but also provide feedback to each speaker after the debate.
The jury renders its decision by voting for each criterion, and allocating it to the team which has won said criterion: as there are three judges and 5 criteria, 15 points are thus distributed as a whole.
The winning team is not the team which has won the most points, but the team which has won the most criteria: if team A wins "argumentation", "teamwork", and "engagement", but team B wins "star quality" and "presentation", then team A will have won a 3-2 victory. Consequently decisions are either 5-0, 4-1, or 3-2.
Nonetheless, points still matter as they represent how close the debate was. To make things more interesting, a Defensive Bonus will be awarded to a team if said team lost the debate, but was granted more than 5 points by the jury.
Let's take an example. In a debate between team A and team B, the judges voted as follows:
Team A won: Arguments (2-1 decision); Teamwork (2-1 decision); Engagement (2-1 decision); and Star Quality (3-0 decision).
Team B won Form by a 3-0 decision.
Team A won the debate by 4-1as it won a majority of criteria. However, since Team B won 6 points, it is awarded a Defensive Bonus.
The Defensive Bonus will be useful in possibly going to the next round!
To determine each pool winner, here are the rules applied:
- the number of wins and losses of each team is counted;
- if there is a tie, we count the number of criteria won by the teams during the pool matches: winning by 4-1 instead of 3-2 can thus be a key point for the final decision;
- if there is a tie again, Defensive Bonuses will be added to the team scores;
- if it's another tie, we use the rule according to which the points won away count as double;
- if it's still a tie, a play-off match in a neutral location will be organised.
- Where more than two teams are tied in the same pool, a “Sudden Death” match will occur. On the day of the playoffs, each team is assigned a unique motion to defend, and given one hour to prepare their arguments. At the end of said hour, a Champion will be randomly appointed to represent the team. Champions will speak consecutively for six minutes, during which POIs will be asked by a previously designated Champion. At the end of all Champions’ speeches, the jury will deliberate and decide the winner for the pool.
There may be less preperation time allocated to each team before a play-off debate although a minimum of 24 hours will be respected.
Semi-finals and Final:
Finally two semi-finals and a final are organized to separate the pool winners and confirm the winning team of the tournament.