Following their recent successes in their regional heats, Rochester Grammar School and Plymouth High School for Girls were two of twenty-two schools who participated in the final trials. As part of the competition, students were divided into five different roles: barristers, witnesses, court clerks, ushers, and jurors. The schools each competed in three demanding rounds of trials, picking apart and arguing two hypothetical cases as either the prosecution or the defence against competing schools. These trials took place in real courtrooms, in front of the country’s top judges and argued topics of possession with intent to supply drugs and a drunken assault outside a nightclub.
In preparation for the final, students learned about the laws that applied to their cases, dissected the witness statements to find strengths, weaknesses, and contradictions, and then prepared opening and closing speeches that summarised their arguments and supported their side of the story. On the day of the competition, the barristers gave effective presentations of the prepared speeches and asked thorough examination-in-chief questions to the witnesses. The witnesses then answered cross-examination questions from the opposing school’s barristers.
During their argument for the defence in the nightclub assault case, Plymouth High School’s team secured a not guilty verdict, with presiding Judge Gary Woodhall highlighting that a deciding factor was the school’s barristers forcing the opposing team’s witness to admit preconceived prejudices.