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Dundee Pupils Rise To Legal Challenge

Thursday, 06 November 2008

Schoolchildren from across Dundee will be laying down the law at the city's Sheriff Court on Saturday (November 8) in a special event designed to help them become more aware of Scotland's legal system and the professionals who work within it.                                                                                                                         

Pupils from five Dundee's secondary schools will descend on the Sheriff Court building and use its courtrooms to participate in mock trials as part of the Faculty of Advocates' MiniTrials initiative.

Pupils will play the roles of prosecution and defence lawyers, court staff, witnesses and jurors under the watchful eye of real-life clerks of court, advocates, procurators fiscal, and local solicitors. Pupils will also be taken on a guided tour of the court complex.

During their day in court the pupils will run their own simplified Sheriff Court criminal jury trials using an information pack compiled by the Faculty and with the help of the professional volunteers.

The pupils will take part in two trials each during the day-long event with the cases being overseen by a senior lawyer acting as sheriff.

The participating schools are Morgan Academy, Grove Academy, Braeview Academy, Harris Academy and Craigie High which is to enter two teams.

Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Richard Keen QC said: "The MiniTrial initiative is an excellent way to help young people appreciate the value of Scotland's unique legal system and to discover, in an enjoyable way, how it works in practice."

The aim of the MiniTrials initiative, which was launched by High Court judge Lord Kinclaven and the Faculty six years ago, is to demystify the law in an enjoyable way and to allow pupils to see what really happens in a criminal court. It is also intended as a means of providing  insight for those young people who might be considering a legal career.

Dundee City Council education convener Councillor Laurie Bidwell said: "The opportunity for young people to participate in an event such as this, in real courtrooms and with real lawyers looking on, provides a unique 'hands-on' experience of the law at work. The MiniTrial initiative broadens pupils' understanding of the legal system and also acts as an enjoyable means of building confidence and enhancing public speaking skills."


Notes to editors

The Faculty of Advocates comprises Scotland's 460-plus practising advocates and QCs as well as many of the country's judges, sheriffs and academics. Founded in 1532, the Faculty is an independent body of lawyers who have been admitted to appear in the supreme courts of Scotland. Total numbers now stand at over 730. Practising members, of whom one fifth have attained the senior status of Queen's Counsel, handle the most complex criminal and civil cases in the country. 

The Faculty is fully committed to promoting Scotland's culture and to ensuring the nation's youth are given every opportunity to develop their academic skills and artistic talents. As a result, the Faculty is an active sponsor of the arts and runs a highly-successful programme of educational events aimed at increasing school pupils' understanding of the Scottish legal system and those who work within it.