About the competition
The Bar National Mock Trial Competition gives young people an exciting and innovative insight into the workings of the legal system.
Now in its 24th successful year, it involves over 2,000 students, 300 barristers and advocates and 90 judges from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Applications for the 2015/16 cycle will open in late April.
Read the 2013/14 Evaluation Report
Teams of students use carefully constructed witness statements to prepare the prosecution and defence of two specially written criminal cases.
Students take on the roles of barristers, witnesses, court staff and jurors and compete against other schools in a live format, with one team prosecuting and the other defending.
Their performances are judged by Circuit Judges, Recorders (Sheriffs in Scotland) and senior barristers or advocates and take place in Crown Courts across the UK (High Courts in Scotland).
At regional heats teams take part in three trials both prosecuting and defending one case and prosecuting or defending the other. The two teams with the highest scores go on to a fourth trial to decide the regional winning team who then goes on to compete in the national final.
As well as the main Competition there are legal reporting competitions.
Press Officer competition
Each team can nominate a Press Officer to be responsible for developing a media strategy for local coverage of the team's entry. Details of how to enter the Press Officer competition is sent to participating schools in September.
Court Reporter competition
After watching one of the trials at a regional heat, the Court Reporter will write a newspaper article reporting on the case they have watched.
Further details about this competition will be made available in September.
How does it fit the curriculum?
Through active learning the competition provides a fun, exciting and innovative way of exploring the provisions for Citizenship at Key Stage 4 by giving young people the opportunity to:
- gain an understanding of the legal and human rights and responsibilities underpinning society, and how they relate to them as citizens, including the role of the criminal and civil justice systems;
- understand the work of courts in making and shaping the law;
- develop research skills on topical moral and social issues;
- consider other people's experiences and be able to explain and express, explain and critically evaluate opinions that are not necessary their own;
- negotiate, make decisions and take part responsibly in school activities.
What help is available?
There is no need for students or teachers to have studied any law before taking part in the competition. Schools will receive a guide containing the rules, court procedures, information about the criminal justice system and the roles the students will be taking on.
Two specially written cases will be provided. A local barrister or advocate will be available, where possible, to help schools with their preparations (though this cannot be guaranteed). The project officer at the Citizenship Foundation will also be happy to answer any questions.
In addition there are downloadable resources and lesson plans available for all participating schools. These are accessed using the login panel above and the password will be provided to you by the Project Officer.Also see our Frequently asked questions [pdf].
Who can enter?
The competition is open to all non-fee paying secondary schools and FE colleges in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Students must be in Years 10-13 in England in Wales, Years 11-14 in Northern Ireland and S4-S6 in Scotland at the time of the competition heats (November 2014).
Each school enters a team of 15 students (16 in Scotland) and can also nominate a court reporter and press officer.
If your chosen heat is oversubscribed, you may be allocated a reserve place. Reserve schools prepare for the competition and may attend the court on the day, but will only have the opportunity to compete if another school withdraws. We cannot predict when or if this will happen, but schools do drop out each year and reserve teams have enjoyed considerable success.
Where possible, reserve schools are given a secured place in the following year's competition provided that they apply before the deadline. In some of our most popular heats it may not be possible for all reserve teams to be placed in the competition the following year.
The cost of entry to the competition is a non-refundable fee of £95.
If you withdraw from the competition before 12th September 2014 your school will be refunded their entry fee if they can no longer participate.
Please see the competition terms and conditions [pdf] for more information about entry fees and deposits.
See How to enter for application details.
Online applications for the 2014/15 competition will be open from 28th April 2014 until 12th June 2014. Schools will be notified of their place (or reserve place) and sent their guides and cases at beginning of July 2014.
Barristers or advocates will be allocated to schools (where possible) around September and October 2014. Schools will attend a Crown Court to compete in a regional heat in November 2014. The 16 winners of the regional heats will participate in the national final at Edinburgh in March 2015.
The competition relies very heavily on the work and assistance of judges, barristers, advocates and court staff. Not only do they open their courts for the mock trials but also voluntarily contribute their time to help organise heats and assist schools with their preparations.
If you are would be interested in volunteering on the scheme please email us for more details about getting involved in your local competition.
Interested in a career as a barrister?
The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, along with the four Inns of Court, has made some films which can be found in the careers’ section of the Bar Council website. You will find information on the different stages of training and read profiles from barristers, which will help to demystify entry to the profession.