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Law & Order: CATS Canterbury students put their legal knowledge to the test

University preparation 20 February 2018

This year, CATS Canterbury students competed with some of the best independent schools in the country in the Citizenship Foundation's annual Mock Trial competition. The competition offers those considering a career in law the opportunity to present fictional legal cases to real judges in a law court, where they can showcase and develop employability skills such as teamwork, public speaking and verbal reasoning.

The Citizenship Foundation allocated two complex cases to the CATS Canterbury competitors, and asked them to nominate two "Defence Barristers" and two "Crown Prosecutors". CATS Law teacher Adam Dark helped the students prepare for the legal challenge, and explained that a "Defence Barrister" is a lawyer hired by a Solicitor to represent people and organisations in Courts and tribunals, and a "Crown Prosecutor" is a lawyer responsible for presenting the case against an individual in a criminal trial.

In the months leading up to the challenge, the team researched legal facts and prepared opening and closing speeches. They rehearsed their parts in the cases, during which they would be judged on their legal knowledge, speaking skills and confidence. The students taking on the roles of witnesses prepared for hostile questioning from the Court. Every week, the team met in the drama room and ran through each case. Barrister Dean Thistle, from a law office in Kent, visited twice to coach the students on their advocacy and public speaking skills.

L-R: Pouya Ariamanesh, Isadora De Oliveira, Irem Yozdzhan, Aneeta Lingam, Jacqueline Enya, Ekaterina Danilovich, Albert-Darian Bonciu, Muhammad Azmi, Ogochukwu Onukwugha, Sakeena Bello, Laura Leechu, Rafael Miguel and Chinelo Udo.

In the first case, Sakeena Bello, a University Foundation Programme student from Nigeria and Aneeta Lingam, an International Baccalaureate student from Malaysia, defended a woman accused of assaulting a man and breaking his nose. After many tense moments and a lively argument, the jury returned a "not guilty" verdict. 

Crown Prosecutors Laura Lee-Chu, an International Baccalaureate student from Malaysia, and Pouya Ariamanesh, an International Baccalaureate student from Iran, then took on a case in which a woman had been accused of carrying a large kitchen knife in public with no good reason. Chidiebere Esther Okoroafor, an AS Level student from Nigeria who acted as the defendant, was praised by the judge, His Honour John Dodd QC, for her ability to respond and think on her feet with speed and skill. The jury decided against the students on this occasion, and returned a "guilty" verdict.

His Honour Justice Noel Lucan QC singled Pouya out for praise, and told him that he demonstrated the potential for a successful future career at the bar.

Well done to the team, who came third in the challenge. Their achievement is all the more impressive considering the fact that three out of four of the bar team are not law students.

Click here to read more about the competition.

Pictured below L-R: Sakeena Bello, Aneeta Lingam, Laura Leechu and Pouya Ariamanesh.

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