Queen Elizabeth Academy, from Crediton, Devon, has won this year’s Bar National Mock Trial Competition. Dalriada School, Ballymoney, was the runner-up, and 16 schools reached the finals. Overall, 170 schools took part in this year’s competition, which aims to encourage future lawyers and is exclusive to non-fee-paying schools.
The teenage advocates presented their arguments in front of serving judges and senior members of the Bar, and the competition culminated in a tense final at the Old Bailey in London, where Lord Justice Hooper, Mr Justice McCloskey (of the Northern Irish High Court) and Kenneth Campbell QC (of the Scottish Bar) heard argument in cases involving the recent London riots and an assault.
Hooper LJ said: “I founded the competition 21 years ago and it has always been my wish to see only state schools involved, as private schools have other routes through to courts and through to judges and barristers.
“But this is a particular route which we can give. I think it also helps the students to have the confidence of arguing, giving evidence.”
The competition is run by the Citizenship Foundation, in association with barrister organisations from England and Wales and Northern Ireland and the Faculty of Advocates in Scotland.
Andy Thornton, chief executive of the Citizenship Foundation, said: “They will gain valuable skills, confidence and understanding as well as the ability to debate and to advocate for others – a key life skill; one that gains in vitality when young people work with courts, clerks, barristers and judges.”
Chairman of the Bar, Michael Todd QC, who presented the prizes, said the Bar was “extremely proud that in addition to providing financial support, over 300 barristers and 90 judges volunteer their time each year to bring the legal system to life through the competition”.