Common advocacy exercises on the bar course

April 28, 2022

The Bar course is the vocational component of your training to becoming a barrister. The course will provide you with an opportunity to develop advocacy, create persuasive legal arguments and to become familiar with how legal procedures apply in practice. There are a number of exercises which you may come across during the course, and this may differ slightly depending on your course provider, and the syllabus.

The course generally covers the exercises which can be broadly be split up into Criminal law applications, Civil law applications and other general exercises.

Criminal law
  • Bail applications: you might be expected to plan and prepare an application for bail, and to demonstrate your knowledge of the framework for the granting of bail. This exercise will likely test your knowledge on the potential grounds for withholding bail, for example.
  • Adducing bad character evidence: you may explore the bad character evidence in criminal litigation and make an application as counsel for the Prosecution to adduce this evidence.
  • Excluding evidence: you may present an application to exclude evidence pursuant to s78 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, for example.
  • Examination-in-chief (XIC): XIC is another form of questioning during criminal trials, but involves non-leading and open-ended questions with a purpose of eliciting details from the witness or client’s case. There is a separate article and video on examination-in-chief.
  • Cross-Examination (XX): XX is a form of questioning of witnesses during criminal trials which requires you to ask mostly leading and closed questions to undermine their case whilst also putting your client’s case to the witness. There is a separate article and video on cross-examination.
Civil law
  • Strike out and/or summary judgment: these applications will require you to identify on which grounds a court may strike out a statement of case or grant summary judgment. You will then apply this to the client’s case. You will apply the Civil Procedure Rules, using the “White Book”.
  • Set aside default judgment: your application should identify the possible grounds on which a court may set aside a default judgment, consider which grounds apply to the client and consider any other matters a court is required to consider. You will apply the Civil Procedure Rules, using the “White Book”.
  • Interim payments: you will be expected to apply the legal framework to your client’s case and analyse the points which you must present to the judge. You will apply the Civil Procedure Rules, using the “White Book”.
Other advocacy exercies
  • Conferencing: you may be expected to conduct a conference with your client in either a criminal or civil litigation case. Course providers usually focus on criminal conferences. It will test your ability to deal with client responses to the evidence, to ask questions and to advise clients on the case using your knowledge of the law.

You will usually be graded on your presentation, persuasiveness, structure of argument, content and accuracy in stating the law. There may also be a written advocacy component, where you will submit a skeleton argument or a preparation note to your tutor.

Advocacy is an art. It is important that you make the make the most of every opportunity to practice and to also implement any feedback you receive on previous performances.

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