Courts ready for busy Saturday sitting at mock trial final

17 Mar

Around 340 school students from throughout the UK - and some distinguished legal figures - will descend on Edinburgh's Parliament House for the 2015 final of the Bar National Mock Trial Competition.

Eighteen schools have qualified through regional heats to contest the final on Saturday, 28 March, with Mackie Academy of Stonehaven, Scottish champions for the last two years, carrying the home hopes.

The competition, in its 24th year, is organised by the Citizenship Foundation and is sponsored by the General Council of the Bar of England and Wales, the four Inns of Court and the local Bar Circuits.

In Scotland, it is supported by the Faculty, and in Northern Ireland by the Bar Council of Northern Ireland.

With help from volunteer legal professionals, students take on the roles of prosecutors, defence lawyers and witnesses in trials for drug possession and theft.

In the final, the teams will be judged by distinguished legal figures including Lord Justice Leveson, Lord Justice Davis, Lady Rae, James Wolffe, QC, Dean of Faculty, and two senior members of Faculty, Herbert Kerrigan, QC, and Brian McConnachie, QC, as well as Mark Mulholland, QC, from the Bar Council of Northern Ireland and Andrew O'Byrne, QC, Leader of the Northern Circuit of the Bar of England and Wales.

Prizes will be presented by Robert Rinder, Barrister and ITV's "Judge Rinder".

Lady Rae commented: "I have been involved with the Citizenship Foundation's competition for some years and consider it a most worthwhile project providing young people with an opportunity to learn about court procedures and perform in front of real judges.

"The standard of pleading and acting is impressive. They exude so much confidence and enthusiasm for the competition. It is obvious that the advocates who work with the young people and their teachers give a lot of their own time to this project. The organisers deserve congratulation. May it continue!"

Kenneth Campbell, QC, the Faculty's representative on the Bar National Mock Trial working party, said: "We are delighted to welcome competition participants from all parts of the country to Parliament House, the historic home of the Court of Session.

"This is the third time we have hosted the national final, and I know that the competition provides a lively mix of exciting competition and real insight into the range of work done securing justice by people of all kinds involved in the court system."

While similar to the Bar National Mock Trial Competition, the Faculty's MiniTrials have no competitive element and, since 2002, have focused solely on helping pupils across Scotland to learn about the justice system.