BPP University Law School enjoys advocacy competition with a ‘rockstar’ twist!

BPP University Law School students took part in a ‘rocking’ advocacy competition as ‘Sidney Vicious’, ‘Michael Jagger’, ‘Keith Richards’ and ‘Johnathan Rotten’ were the subject of a mock criminal trial. Ben Smith, Barrister and BPTC Lecturer at BPP University Law School in Leeds, shares his report on the final.

BPP University Law School, Leeds and the Newcastle University Bar Society jointly held the final of a pioneering new advocacy competition in the prestigious surroundings of the old Moot Hall in Newcastle.

Following hot on the heels of the resounding success of the BPP Advocate of the Year 2016 competition, BPP University Law School agreed to sponsor this new competition, focusing on witness-handling instead of the traditional submission-based advocacy readily seen in mooting competitions across the country.

The competition was organised principally by the Newcastle University Law Students themselves, but under the guidance of tutors at BPP University Law School in Leeds and followed a session on examination-in-chief and cross-examination delivered to all students by Criminal Barrister and BPTC Lecturer, Ben Smith.

The turnout and standard was refreshingly high in the early rounds, and the competitors were eventually narrowed down to just two finalists, Olivia Anne Lea and Rachel Butt.

The final was heard at the Moot Hall in Newcastle, with Ben Smith and Ayshea Megyery taking on the judging responsibilities. Miss Butt represented the Crown and Miss Lea the Defence – both dressed appropriately for the occasion (pictured).

The final was based on the fictitious criminal trial of Sidney Vicious, charged with causing Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) with intent on Michael Jagger, with evidence coming from both, as well as Keith Richards and Johnathan Rotten.

The students were required to perform five pieces of advocacy in the final, two examinations-in-chief, two cross-examinations and a closing speech.

Both Judges were jointly impressed with the standard of advocacy on show and the performance of both advocates was impressive.

The winner, by a single point at the end of the trial, was Rachel Butt. The Judges were particularly impressed with her examination-in-chief of the Complainant, Michael Jagger, which wouldn’t have been out of place in the Crown Court itself.

Holly Challenger, President-elect of the Newcastle University Bar Society said: “The competition was a huge success. The standard of all the competitors was brilliant and we would like to say well done to both finalists. Finally, we owe a big thank you to BPP University Law School for sponsoring the competition and judging the final. It was a hugely successful night, thoroughly enjoyed by all involved.”

Winner Rachel Butt added: “It was absolutely amazing and so realistic. It was such a great opportunity to experience a court atmosphere, with real witnesses and addressing mock judges, not to mention being able to wear the iconic wig and gown.

“I was definitely far more nervous than I expected but was able to ease into the competition and I loved the buzz I received from it. I could not believe I was announced the winner and was overjoyed. The evening was a lot of fun and I would highly recommend it to anyone, especially as BPP University Law School was so encouraging and quickly put me at ease.”

Organiser, Mr Smith, said: “BPP University Law School was delighted with the overall standard of competitors in what we hope will become an annual competition. It is a unique offering at undergraduate level and we were buoyed by the level of commitment and skill on offer in the final, in what were new facets of advocacy for all students involved. The standard on display far surpassed what we anticipated and both finalists ought to be rightly proud of their achievements.”

Everyone connected to BPP University Law School in Leeds would like to thank all participants, Newcastle University and the Bar Society for their invaluable assistance in making this competition such a success.

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