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5 July, 1999

Convicted by satellite? Anglo-Australian mock trial undertaken

Alex Miller reports on the first International Mock Trial, held simultaneously in London and Sydney.

The International Mock Trial Competition took place between Warner's Bay High School, Australia (the Prosecution team) and Wycombe High School, England (the Defence team) on 2 July 1999. Like previous mock trials it was designed to encourage young people to take more of an interest in the law systems in Britain and Australia.

However, this trial was different to any that either school had previously participated in as it was carried out using a live video link between the two schools, thus utilising new technology in an unfamiliar situation. Therefore, whilst it was 9am in London, it was early evening in Sydney!

The trial began in a similar fashion to any 'real' trial and after any minor faults had been dealt with the trial began, presided over by the Judges - Mr Philip Greenwood SC in Sydney and Dan Brennan QC in London. After a brief outline of the Defence and Prosecution's cases the Prosecution called their two witnesses, followed by the Defence. Despite occasional difficulties in sound quality both sides questioned each of the witnesses effectively, speaking clearly and concisely throughout their examinations. The case proceeded as would any trial in a court of law, neither team showing their nerves despite the new situation they faced. Both sides argued convincingly with the evidence they were given, barristers occasionally finding flaws in witnesses' evidence, and witnesses sometimes ridiculing a barrister's line of enquiry.

Following the examination of witnesses the court adjourned for the barristers to prepare their closing speeches. These were well presented and demonstrated the mature analytical skills of each team. The Defence in particular skillfully brought flaws in the reliability of the Prosecution's evidence to the attention of the Judges who, following the speeches, retired to discuss their decision by telephone. Upon returning they, in turn, offered their verdict. Both Judges were adamant in emphasising the close result but the defendant, Terry Digweed, was acquitted and the team from London was pronounced the winner.

Thus the first of possibly many International Mock Trials was concluded.

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