Two solicitors from the Blackadders Family Law team were delighted to be part of the recent “School Mock Court Case Project” – an initiative designed to educate primary school children about the Scottish Legal System and give them the opportunity to prepare and conduct their very own case – in a real court, in front of a real Sheriff!
Gillian Wilson and Gabi Notarangelo attended three tutorials with the children from St Leonards Primary School, Dunfermline, where their knowledge and teaching skills were put to the test.
At the first tutorial, Gillian and Gabi were tasked with assisting the children in developing their own side to the story. This was an eye-opener. The children had fantastic imaginations and came up with some great ideas.
The children had to put together a defence for poor Mrs Telfer, an elderly lady being pursued by “Talk ‘n’ Txt” for mobile phone charges that she didn’t accept she was due to pay. The children had to work with complex legal issues such as jurisdiction, the age of legal capacity and the law of agency. The children undertook a variety of roles including lawyers, witnesses, court room artists, journalists and even gown makers. There really was a role to suit everyone.
At the second tutorial, Gillian and Gabi taught the children court room etiquette. This was largely well received, although a slight faux pas after Senior Counsel for the Defender in the case referred to our (FEMALE) Sheriff Drummond as “M’Lord” which is reserved for male judges! Apparently the Sheriff has developed somewhat of a thick skin as she remarked that this was a daily occurrence in the court. The third tutorial provided the much anticipated chance for the children to put on their gowns and get into character. Their acting skills were second to none and it is fair to say that both Gillian and Gabi picked up a few pointers on court room theatricals…
On 17 January the children were then brought to Dundee Sheriff Court for their debut. They were extremely excited although some understandably nervous too. Their performance was outstanding – especially in cross examination! After much deliberation and initial Avizandum (it took some persuading to assure the children that this was the Sheriff coming off the bench to think about the case and not some sort of Hogwarts spell!) Sheriff Drummond found in favour of Gillian and Gabi’s team. Gillian and Gabi hope to read the reported case “Junior Blackadders v Talk ‘n’ Txt” in the next edition of the Scottish Legal News…!
On the 27 of February, Gillian and Gabi were invited to attend the Mock Court Finals at Central Hall in Edinburgh. They got an opportunity to meet the Rt Hon Sir David Edward, a former judge of the European Court of Justice, Judge Ian Forrester, a judge of the General Court of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and The Hon Lord Armstrong, Senator of the College of Justice, who were presiding at the finals. After 3 excellent mock proofs from primary schools across Scotland, the winning team were Leith Primary School. A big congratulations to them!
All of the children that took part did a fantastic job and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience, as did Gillian and Gabi. Gillian and Gabi are sure that they met some future lawyers in the making. Blackadders were also delighted to present the Tayside Gown Making trophy to winners Auchtergaven Rrimary School and we look forward to being involved in the Mock Court Project next year!