The coveted Bar Mock Trials National Champions title has gone to King Edward VI Handsworth School after its team won the Bar Council backed contest which sees non-fee paying schools compete against each other in mock court trials.
Organised by Young Citizens and funded by the Bar Council, the Bar Mock Trials competition involves schools competing throughout the year across the UK to reach the finals. This year, 24 schools made it to the final in Edinburgh’s Court of Session on the 23 March following a series of regional heats. The final saw Banbridge Academy from Northern Ireland take on King Edward VI Handsworth School, winners of the Stafford heats.
The competition, which includes real judges adjudicating the trials, also recognises individuals who impress in the competition. This year, Rebecca Lea of Runshaw College, Leyland, Lancashire, was presented with the individual advocacy award.
Chair of the Bar Council, Richard Atkins QC, attended this year’s final along with Malcolm Cree CBE, Chief Executive of the Bar Council, and Sam Mercer, the Bar Council’s Head of Equality and Diversity. Sir Brian Leveson, President of the Queen’s Bench Division and Head of Criminal Justice, and the Honourable Lady Rae, a Judge of the Supreme Courts (Scotland), together with Richard Atkins QC, oversaw the final.
Richard Atkins QC said: “It is marvellous to see the dedication and commitment of the pupils taking part in this competition and that of their teachers. They have all worked so hard to reach the finals and it is a pity that there can only be one winner. I hope that the competition inspires many of those taking part to consider a career at the Bar. The Bar Council of England and Wales is proud to support the competition.”
The Bar Mock Trials is a unique opportunity for students from across the UK to gain unparalleled insight into the justice system. The competition immerses students in all aspects of a criminal trial, as they take on the roles of barristers, witnesses, clerks, ushers and jury members. Students appear in real courts in front of real judges and are assisted in their preparations by practising barristers.
Every year since 1991, the competition has supplemented traditional classroom learning by encouraging the development of essential skills such as logical reasoning, clear communication and teamwork. Students from all backgrounds and from all skill levels take part.
The Bar Council partially funds the competition each year. The contest is also supported by the Faculty of Advocates, the Bar Library of Northern Ireland, HMCTS, the Circuits and the Inns of Court.