North East triumphs again in National Final of Bar National Mock Trial Competition 2009/10

FOR the second time in three years a team of students from Whitley Bay High School, Tyne and Wear, won the national final of the
Citizenship Foundation’s Bar National Mock Trial Competition.


The competition aims to give young people an insight into the workings of the legal system. This year’s event, held on Saturday 20 March 2010 at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, proved to be another close contest.

In the grand final, students from Whitley Bay High School and runners-up Calday Grange Grammar School from the Wirral presented
their case before Lord Hamilton, The Lord Justice General of Scotland, who commended the excellent performance of both teams. Success for Whitley Bay High School meant that this was the third year in succession in which the national final has been won by a team from the North East of England.

Reflecting on this outstanding achievement, Rachel Mays, teacher at Whitley Bay High School, said:

‘The team’s success in the Edinburgh Final, in the magnificent setting of the Court of Session, has created a feeling of self belief and
confidence that will lead them to even greater success in their studies at school, and has more than justified their countless hours of preparation. We know the same will be true of all the other teams who competed in such an atmosphere of high energy and excitement.
We would particularly like to thank all those involved, both from the Bar Council and the Citizenship Foundation, for creating such memorable moments in the lives of all those young people who were fortunate enough to participate.’

The national final marked the culmination of eight months of preparation by the 16 schools that took part. Students had prepared two
cases for the final, both of which addressed very topical and controversial issues. In HMA v Myers, the defendant was charged with
possession of cannabis with intent to supply. In HMA v Starling, the defendant was alleged to have caused criminal damage during an
environmental demonstration.

Reflecting on the 19th year of the Competition, Tony Breslin, Chief Executive of the Citizenship Foundation, noted:

‘Once again, the finalists in the Bar National Mock Trial Competition have reached a standard of performance that they can be proud of
and, in so doing, they have developed their knowledge and understanding of the law and the legal profession, explored important social issues and developed their practical citizenship skills. The Bar Council, the Faculty of Advocates and their partners - and the very many volunteer barristers, court staff and teachers who make the competition possible - should be commended for their efforts. The 2,400 students and the 160 schools who took part in this year's competition have been the immediate beneficiaries, but our society benefits as a whole when more of us know and understand how the law works - and here, alongside the broader Citizenship curriculum and the complementary push for better Public Legal Education, the competition makes a vital contribution.’

The Bar National Mock Trial Competition is organised by the Citizenship Foundation and is sponsored by the Bar Council, the Faculty of Advocates in Scotland, the Bar Council of Northern Ireland, the Inns of Court and all six of the Bar’s regional Circuits. It is also supported by Her Majesty’s Courts Service. The Competition is a unique opportunity for students aged 15 to 18, from state secondary
schools and Further Education colleges across the UK, to demonstrate their advocacy skills and gain a greater understanding of our legal system.

Chairman of the Bar, Nicholas Green QC, added:

‘It was both an enormous privilege and great fun to participate as a judge in this year’s final. I was hugely impressed by the standard
demonstrated by all the students taking part. They showed real flair and skill and quite plainly got a very great deal out of the experience. The Bar National Mock Trial Competition provides an excellent way for young people to gain a first-hand understanding of the role of the advocate in a real-life courtroom and is an important part of the Bar’s work to demystify the profession. I am delighted that the Bar Council continues to support this fantastic competition which each year goes from strength to strength.’

Richard Keen QC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, said:

‘The Faculty of Advocates was delighted that the national final of this year’s Bar National Mock Trial Competition could be hosted in
Parliament House in Edinburgh. We are pleased to be able to support a competition which draws such an enthusiastic and spirited response from schools across the United Kingdom.’

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