Northern Ireland Pupils triumph in UK legal challenge
Pupils from Northern Ireland swept the board at the National Final of the Magistrates' Court Mock Trial Competition in Leeds on Saturday 5 July 2003.Assumption Grammar from County Down became the 2003 national champions, beating 17 other schools from across the UK. Paul Smith of Foyle and Londonderry College won the National Court Reporter Competition, judged by the Legal Editor of The Times. The Lord Mayor of Leeds presented the shields and prizes to the proud students. Organised by the Citizenship Foundation in conjunction with the Magistrates' Association, the competition is a unique opportunity for 12-14 year olds to learn about the legal system. School students compete against each other in Magistrates' Courts, taking on the roles of lawyers, witnesses, magistrates, court staff and defendant. Their performance is judged by real magistrates and other legal professionals. Now in its ninth successful year, the competition this year involved around 4,500 young people from almost 350 schools nationwide. It is funded by the Department for Constitutional Affairs and high street retailer Wilkinson. This year, prizes were provided by Collins and the National Final was sponsored by OCR. 'By taking on the role of lawyers, court staff, witnesses and defendants, young people are given a taste of what it is like to work in the court system, said Christopher Leslie, Minister in the Department for Constitutional Affairs. 'It provides a practical and innovative way to give them a greater understanding of the justice system and its importance in society. Involving young people in this way helps to promote confidence and a sense of ownership of the system and encourages citizenship.' The competition is open to entries for the 200304 until 24 October 2003.