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 group of five students taken from the team must include:
at least two French native speakers (regardless of nationality).
no more than one English native speaker.
no more than one bilingual speaker (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 one returnee (defined as someone who has already participated in the FDA tournament, regardless of the year of their participation).
Each team has one week to prepare the debate. Indeed one week before the match the motion of the debate is disclosed as well as the sides (Government/Opposition).
All 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 it goes on.
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 accept the point, 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, 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.
The 1st and the 6th minutes are protected time: no POI may be asked. Between 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 devise among themselves during the debate but should not disturb the speaker. The coach is not allowed to communicate with his/her team during the debate.
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 speakers and the 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 and 2 former debaters for a pool debate,
1 coach-judge 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 winner of a debate is the team which has obtained the more votes from the jury.
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 each vote in favour of the team during the pool matches. The overall number of judges having voted for a team during its two pool debates can thus be a key point for the final decision. This is why this is essential that if ALL judges agree that one team is the winner, they SHOULD NEVER bend one of their votes to get a 2-1, however tight their decision might be, and the two teams brilliant and deserving;
if it's a tie again, we use the rule according to which the points won away count as double;
if it's still a tie, then we use the marks out of twenty given by each member of the jury to the team.
Finally two semi-finals and a final are organized to separate the pool winners.