Jennie Obourne, Deputy programme leader talks about bar training in Turkey

If you are planning to visit Turkey this summer, it is likely to be for the beaches, the coffee and the historic landmarks. You are probably not intending to meet Turkish lawyers – and if you do, the chances are something has gone very wrong!

But it was with that very goal in mind that I headed to Ankara, central Turkey in early April. The Turkish Bar Association, in association with BPP University and Bahcesehir University, had organised a two day training course on the art of cross examination. As an advocacy tutor at BPP University I was invited to prepare and deliver the training to an audience of top lawyers from all over the country.

The skill of cross examination has had a difficult history in Turkey. After several adverse judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, cross examination was first introduced into the Turkish Penal Code in 2005.  For the first time, defendants had the right to test the evidence of those that accused them.

It should have been a seminal moment. Yet despite the passing of ten years, it is a skill that is still underused in the Turkish courts. The confrontational nature of cross examination does not sit naturally with the inquisitorial criminal justice system adopted in the Ataturk reforms.

The training was challenging and rewarding. I was struck by the warm welcome I received, the receptiveness of the delegates and their patience with the obvious language difficulties. (To my shame, it took me all weekend to learn the Turkish word for “thank you”). Using materials from BPP University’s Bar Professional Training Course, we explored the ten golden rules of cross examination, the importance of case theory and developing an effective strategy for handling the witness. The delegates then put the techniques into practice during a mock trial.

I came away without a tan, but with a lot of satisfaction and an understanding of a different legal system and a fresh perspective on the importance of international advocacy training.

Jennie Oborne

Deputy Programme Leader


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