Two of our trainee and one of our newly qualified solicitors were delighted to volunteer in The School Mock Court Case Project, a national cross-curricular event encompassing a range of subjects- from art to journalism, debating and writing skills, to name just a few. The purpose of the exercise was to allow private businesses to come into the school environment to help put learning into a context. The Mock Court Case let children all across Scotland learn about the law as they prepared a case to take to the High Court in Glasgow.
Heather Warnock, one of our trainee solicitors was working with the children in Mosspark Primary, Andy Lindsay also a trainee was with Wellshot Primary and Angela Ainsley a newly qualified assistant was assisting at Fernhill Primary. The classes involved in the project were either Primary 6 or 7.
Each class was divided into two teams. One team was the “Pursuers” and the other team the “Defenders” and every child had a role to play. There were lawyers, researchers, witnesses, court artists, gown-makers and journalists.
The case was about an old lady called Mrs Telfer who sent her grandson to buy her a new mobile phone as the battery in her old phone wasn’t working. Her grandson brought back a new phone but Mrs Telfer claimed it was much too high tech for her to use as she only wanted to make phone calls and send a few texts. Not wanting any internet access, she didn’t understand why her phone bill was so high. She asked to change her phone and refused to pay her large monthly bill. The company Talk & Txt decided to take her to court so they could get their money for the phone.
Each team had to do the following:-
- Prepare pleadings
- Conduct research
- Prepare evidence
- Create court gowns
- Present witnesses
- Produce artists’ impressions of the court scene.
- Present the case in court.
The project is now run across three regions: The Lothians, West of Scotland (Glasgow to Ayr) and Tayside & Fife. The founder and organiser of the competition Gerald Murphy notes “ The desire was to integrate a project into the schools that children would enjoy without realising they were learning and that had an aim that would surpass what is not ordinarily available to inspire students-appearing before a real Sheriff in a real court.”
Unfortunately none of the teams tutored by Heather, Andy or Angela made it through to the finals which are being held on 29th February 2016 at Central Hall in Edinburgh but Angela’s group made it to the top 5! However all three of our staff members felt that the aims of the project to create confident individuals who are effective communicators, successful learners and responsible citizens were met. As Heather said “Volunteering in this project was very worthwhile and the children seemed to greatly enjoy it.”Angela points out that “The children embraced their roles whole heartedly and had such fun.”Andy admits that he enjoyed participating but what he will remember most is the little girl who would have much preferred a criminal case with lots of blood and gore who asked him “If I stood on a rice crispy and squashed it would I be a cereal killer?”