HSDC Alton students usually participate in the Young Citizens Bar Mock Trial Competition. This year unfortunately, due to the pandemic, a live competition could not take place so Alton law lecturers improvised and organised their own event on campus.

The Bar Mock Trial Competition started in 1991 to help young people understand how the law touches every aspect of their lives, gaining an insight into how the legal justice system works. Participating schools and colleges are given access to resources, including specially written criminal cases, to help teams prepare legal arguments. After preparation, teams take part in a regional heat and go head-to-head with students from other schools or colleges to prosecute and defend the cases. Winning teams then compete in a National Final. The regional competition is held at Guildford Crown Court and Alton teams have done very well in the past.

Normally the competition is a cross-curricular enrichment activity open to all students, not just those studying law. This year’s campus event involved first year students studying a variety of subjects. Students played the roles of barristers, witnesses, jury members, the court clerk and the usher in a fictitious criminal trial. Barristers prepared the case in advance and then presented it in front of the jury members. The question on everyone’s mind: ’Would the defendant be found guilty or not guilty of grievous bodily harm?’. In the end, the prosecuting team won and the defendant was found guilty.

Students who took part found it to be an excellent learning experience. Freya Jones (Prosecution Barrister): “I really enjoyed taking part in Bar Mock Trial as it has been such a good insight into what a real court and trial would be like.” Katy McCarthy (Prosecution Barrister): “It was a really good hands-on opportunity, being able to step into the barrister’s shoes was an amazing experience.”