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UK Bar Mock Trial Champions

Coleraine Grammar School Clears the Bar as UK Bar Mock Trial Champions

 

Coleraine Grammar School has won the UK final of the prestigious Young Citizens Bar Mock Trial competition held at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, beating off stiff competition from over 186 schools from across the whole of the UK.

In the competition, designed to help young people gain an insight into how the legal justice system works, pupils adopted the roles of barristers, witnesses, ushers and court clerks to both prosecute and defend ‘mock trials’ of realistic criminal legal cases. Facing the full courtroom experience from cross examinations to closing speeches, under the watchful eye of KCs and High Court Judges it is a test of nerve, skill and persuasiveness.  The school won the Northern Ireland heats of the competition back in December 2023 held in the Belfast High Court, bettering 15 other Northern Ireland schools and then went on to represent the region in the UK Finals.

The competition involves competing in Mock Trial Cases against other schools and has been running for 32 years. Almost 3000 young people, and 125 legal volunteers participated in this year’s competition and the competition judges were drawn from UK High Court judges, Crown Court judges and KCs.

In the finals the Coleraine Grammar School team defended an ‘insurance agent’ accused of causing a public nuisance by taking part in a protest and also prosecuted a ‘student’ accused of gaining unauthorised access to computer data. The team’s barristers in both cases delivered devastating cross examinations of their opponent’s witnesses and delivered persuasive opening and closing arguments. Other team members played the witnesses and were acknowledged as being very credible witnesses who didn’t deviate from their statements. At the same time the team’s nominated court usher and court clerk were deemed to have carried out their roles efficiently and effectively.

The competition is organised by Young Citizens, and is supported by The Bar Council, The Law Society, HM Courts Service, Regional Bar Circuits including the Bar of Northern Ireland. By taking part in realistic legal settings, the competition encourages pupils to think criticallybuild arguments and boost their confidence.

Peter Semple, the teacher at Coleraine Grammar who led the team’s preparations commented on the achievement; ‘’This is a fantastic achievement for the pupils involved, and they should be so proud of how they represented Coleraine Grammar School and the wider community. They put in many hours of hard work in preparation for both the Belfast heat and the London finals. Now having gone up against the best from schools across the UK they came out on top, having excelled in important life skills and experiences that will stand to them in their future careers, whether that is in the legal profession or other roles.

Dr Carruthers, Headmaster at Coleraine Grammar School added, said ‘As a school we are delighted for the pupils, their families and the staff for this incredible win. It shows what can be achieved when commitment and talent are combined.  The competition is fiercely contested right across the UK and is a real test of both nerves and character. To emerge victorious is truly amazing and we could not be prouder of them.

“We would like to thank Nadine Knight our barrister mentor, The Honourable the Irish Society for their generous financial donation to support participation in the competition, the staff of Coleraine Magistrates Court for facilitating the final practice and the parents and friends of the school for their continued support.”