Hertfordshire Uni takes crown in mock trial contest

The University of Hertfordshire emerged triumphant as the winner of the first-ever UK mock trial competition, which saw law students from across the country don wigs and gowns for the unique event.

Blackstone’s National Criminal Advocacy event, devised by senior lecturers Neil Geach and Nicola Haralambous from the University of Hertfordshire, saw 24 students undertake a series of pre-trial applications and trial advocacy relating to fictitious criminal case papers.

One of the winning students, Farah Chaumoo, said: “It’s only from getting involved and being part of such a unique event that I was able to truly understand the complexities of the day-to-day work of a barrister. It’s definitely given me a lot to think about with regard to my future within law.”

The University of Nottingham achieved second place, while third and fourth places went to the University of Winchester and Anglia Ruskin University respectively.

Each team was provided with bundles including all the necessary case papers to allow them to read in advance and complete independent learning. The teams also got the opportunity to take part in a training session with barrister Ken Aylett of 15 New Bridge Street.

The teams went head-to-head, acting as either the prosecution or defence, in three rounds including the semi-final and the final. The first round included four matches of pre-trial applications followed by the mock trial.

The judging panel consisted of several legal professionals, including judge Peter Murphy and former director of public prosecutions Lord Ken MacDonald QC.

Geach added: “There seemed to be a gap there with only mooting competitions available to undergrads – there was nothing for them to get involved with in this side of advocacy. [The mock trial] feeds into what they’d be doing at the beginning of practice, giving them a head start on the Bar Professional Training Course or Legal Practice Course. It taught them how to handle a witness and think on their feet, getting a true insight into the whole procedure of a trial.”

The winning team received a copy of Blackstone’s practitioner’s text, £250 of Oxford University Press vouchers and work experience with 15 New Bridge Street.