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12 October, 2005

Bar Council throws weight behind Criminal Justice Week with national competition

The Bar Council and the Citizenship Foundation, through the Bar National Mock Trial Competition 2005/06, will be supporting Criminal Justice Week (17-23 Oct) by sending barristers into over 200 schools to help young people prepare for 'trial'.

The first regional round of the Bar National Mock Trial Competition for schools takes place on Saturday 12th November, and a team of dedicated barrister volunteers will be meeting with the students during and after Criminal Justice Week to help them prepare.

During the Competition the students, aged 15 to 18, will play the parts of barristers, witnesses, court staff and jurors, and will compete against one another in mock trials, judged by real-life circuit judges, with a view to winning a place in the national final in March 2006.

One barrister volunteer, Justin Kitson, Chairman of the Young Barristers' Committee, said:

"The commitment and enthusiasm of the students is tremendous. They clearly relish the opportunity to test their skills in reasoning, argument and thinking on their feet. They also greatly value the chance to meet and talk to 'real' barristers and are keen to seek our advice - and borrow our wigs and gowns!"

Commenting, Bar Council Chairman Guy Mansfield QC said:

'The Mock Trials Competition is a superb opportunity for young people to get to grips with their justice system and I am very grateful that so many barristers and judges give up their time to add to knowledge of the law among young people. The Bar is an enthusiastic supporter of education for citizenship, and of Criminal Justice Week.'

Tony Breslin, Chief Executive of the Citizenship Foundation, said:

"For us Criminal Justice Week lasts for the entire year. Through the Competition, which has been running for 15 years, we aim to help young people to understand the justice system and the role that they have to play as members of their community."

Further information

To find out more please email:

Notes for editors:

Criminal Justice Week runs from 17th to 23rd October, and aims to show the public how they can play an important part in the justice system.

The Bar National Mock Trial Competition is aimed 15-18 year olds and seeks to introduce the legal system to young people in an innovative and exciting way giving them the opportunity to gain hands on experience. The competition is entering its fifteenth successful year and involves young people from schools throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Every year over 2000 students, 200 barristers/advocates and 90 judges are involved.

The competition is funded by the Bar Council together with the Bar Council of Northern Ireland; the Faculty of Advocates; the Inns of Court and the Circuits and is organised by the Citizenship Foundation. The competition is also greatly assisted by the Department for Constitutional Affairs through the provision of Crown Courts and court staff.

The Bar Council is the regulatory and representative body for barristers in England and Wales: www.barcouncil.org.uk; www.legaleducation.org.uk.

The Bar Council of Northern Ireland is the regulatory and representative body for barristers in Northern Ireland: www.barcouncil-ni.org.uk

The Faculty of Advocates is the regulatory and representative body for advocates in Scotland: www.advocates.org.uk

The Citizenship Foundation is an independent charity (no. 801360) working throughout the UK and overseas to promote more effective citizenship through education about the law, democracy and society. Founded in 1989, it aims to empower people, particularly the young and disadvantaged, with the knowledge, skills and understanding to engage positively with their communities. www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk

Further information about the Competition is available on the website of the Citizenship Foundation - www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk - or by contacting bmt@citizenshipfoundation.org.uk or phoning 020 7367 0500.

For further information about the Bar Council please call the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525.

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