Bar Mock Trial 2016 national final at the Old Bailey
For its 25th anniversary, we took our Bar Mock Trial Competition's prestigious national final back to London's famous Old Bailey.
On 23 April, more than 300 school students from all over the UK descended upon the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales - better know as The Old Bailey - for the final of this year's Bar Mock Trial Competition.
Although some of the them may choose to pursue a career in law, that is not the point of this competition. These mock trials aim at nothing less than preparing them for life in the UK.
For many, this mock trial competition is their first, positive contact with the legal system that governs their lives. It helps them understand the purpose of law - and the impact it has on people - before they're on the wrong side of it. It is challenging and fun too, and it goes a long way to making the justice system relevant to them.
Some 2,000 secondary school students, 300 barristers and advocates and 90 judges from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been involved in this year's competition. But only 18 schools could be in the final at the Old Bailey, and only one of those teams could win.
...Yes, it was Dalriada Academy from Co. Antrim. (There was a lot of screaming.)
The runner-up was Wilmslow High School.
Huge congratulations too to Katka Sheeranova (left, above) of Ballyclare High School in Antrim, winner of the Court Reporter element of the competition (judged by none other than top legal journalist Joshua Rozenberg), and to Sahand Ashrafian (right, above) of South Downs College in Hampshire who won the Court Artist element (judged by esteemed court artist Julia Quenzler).
Mentor of the Year
This year we introduced a new award to recognise the enormous support that professional advocates and barristers give to schools preparing for the competition. The two Mentor of the Year winners were Richard Gray and Dr Tony Lunny.
'It has been a really satisfying experience to have been given the privilege of, I hope, making a positive contribution to the lives of these dedicated and hard-working young people, said Richard Gray. 'Long may it continue for us all.'
'It has been an absolute pleasure to be part of the Bar Mock Trial Competition over the years', said Tony Lunny, 'and, indeed, a privilege to be able to share in the enthusiasm, the engagement and the passion of the Academy team over many years. As a practising barrister with over thirty years’ experience, I have found the BMT mentoring process to be a wonderfully refreshing and truly uplifting experience, and I certainly wouldn’t reserve judgement on what is surely one of the absolute must-do extra-curricular activities for young and old alike.'
The finalist schools were:
- Henrietta Barnett, Snaresbrook heat;
- Mackie Academy, Glasgow heat;
- King Edward VI Handsworth, Stafford heat;
- Wilmslow High, Sheffield heat;
- St. Albans RC High School, Cardiff heat;
- St Johns Marlborough, Reading heat;
- Springwood High, Norwich heat;
- Denbigh School, Oxford heat;
- Greenhead, Leeds heat;
- Kesteven and Grantham Girls', Nottingham heat;
- Birkenhead Sixth Form, Chester heat;
- Chelmsford High School for Girls, Maidstone heat;
- Presdales, Inner London heat;
- Plymouth High School for Girls, Plymouth heat;
- Carmel College, Manchester heat;
- Clitheroe Royal Grammar, Preston heat;
- Banbridge Academy, Belfast heat #1;
- Dalriada, Belfast heat #2.
We were honoured to welcome our judges for the day:
- The Hon Mrs Justice Thirlwall DBE
- The Hon Lady Rae
- The Hon Mrs Justice McGowan DBE
- The Hon Mrs Justice May DBE
- Recorder Bleasdale
- Recorder Tony Baumgartner
- John Cooper QC
- Max Hill QC
- Herbert Kerrigan QC
- Mark Mulholland QC
- Brian Kennedy QC
- Fiona Doherty QC.
And, once again, we were delighted to welcome ITV's very own Judge Rinder to the proceedings
2016 is the competition's 25th year and we are delighted that The Old Bailey welcomed us back for the national final, and that The Bar Council continues to give us such crucial support. It is fantastic that our legal institutions and the legal profession are leading the way in public legal education in schools.
The Bar Mock Trial Competition is sponsored by The General Council of the Bar of England and Wales, the four Inns of Court and the local Bar Circuits. It is supported in Scotland by the Faculty of Advocates and in Northern Ireland by the Bar Council of Northern Ireland.