Following their success in winning the Northern Ireland Heat of the Bar Mock Trial in November 2018, the Banbridge Academy team travelled to Edinburgh last weekend, 23 March 2019, to represent Northern Ireland in the National Final of this prestigious competition.
The final was held in the Edinburgh Court of Session and the level of competition was extremely high as all of the schools present had all won their respective heats in different regions across the UK. In Round 1 Banbridge Academy were drawn against the Royal Latin School, Oxford and this proved to be a close round with both schools quite evenly matched in their prosecution and defence of the case. In Round 2 the team faced the Sixth Form College, Colchester and in Round 3 were pitted against Ripon Grammar School. After the completion of the three rounds, the Teams gathered in the impressive Great Hall of the Court of Session and the Academy were delighted to be announced as one of the top two schools from the 24 who had competed throughout the day.
This meant progression on to the Grand Final, against King Edward VI School, Handsworth. The final was judged by the Right Honourable Sir Brian Leveson, who had conducted the inquiry into Freedom of the Press and phone hacking, the Honourable Lady Rita Rae, a Judge of the UK Supreme Court and the Chair of the Bar Council, Richard Atkins QC. All members of the Academy Team performed magnificently but unfortunately they were pipped at the post in an extremely tight and hard fought contest, with the victory and progression onto the World Finals in New York being awarded to King Edward VI School. The Team was initially disappointed, however, the magnitude of what they had achieved sank in very quickly as they were highly praised for their performances throughout the day by the other schools and impartial observers. Additionally, the performances of a number of members of the team were singled out for individual praise.
The Academy were also crowned Northern Ireland Champions in 2016 and on that occasion they were placed 5th in the UK Finals. To be placed 2nd on this occasion out of the 197 schools who started the competition in 2018 is no mean feat and an unbelievable achievement for the Banbridge Academy Team and Miss McClelland.
Miss McClelland, Head of Politics and Citizenship, expressed her thanks on behalf of the School to two of our former pupils who are now Barristers – Severina Kelley and Vikki Singer – who give of their time and expertise so willingly. The team undoubtedly benefitted from their knowledge, experience and dedication as they prepared for the UK Final.
Barristers: Maria Lyons, Hannah MacLaren, Gemma Thompson and Lucy Hughes
Witnesses: Kate Allenby, Ruth Campbell, Hannah Hubert, Ida Boardman, Laura Adams, Beth Snelling, Lauren Graham and Erin Ferguson
Court Clerk: Jonathan Warren
Court Usher: Rory McNiff
Jury: Andreas Eliopoulos, Beth McCann, Pearl Sibanda, Zara McCracken and Carly Wilson