Excellence in Advocacy

Delegate materials

The programme's national rollout is now in motion aiming to deliver training to 14,000+ delegates. This training will become mandatory for any advocate wishing to undertake publicly funded work for serious sexual offence cases involving vulnerable witnesses.

It is widely acknowledged that children and vulnerable witnesses are unable to cope with the demands of the adversarial process which can and often do increase any existing damage to their psychological and emotional well-being. This is far from a level playing field and therefore justice cannot be seen to be done.

The course aims to help advocates to employ developmentally appropriate language as part of their cross-examination techniques, in order to obtain “best evidence” from a vulnerable witness.

The national training programme has three main stages:

Stage 1 - Online preparation

Compulsory materials

The compulsory preparation should take around eight hours of your time. Follow this link to access these knowledge elements. The page you will be landing on contains:

  • A series of short films explaining the background to the training
  • HHJ Sally Cahill QC plenary lecture
  • The 20 Principles of Questioning, endorsed by HHJ Sally Cahill QC, Professor Michael Lamb and Dr Jacqueline Wheatcroft
  • The case study of R v George Graham
  • A Ground Rules Hearing (GRH) film in R v George Graham
Cross-examination questions

Based on your reading and viewing of the online materials, you are required to prepare your cross-examination questions for all three female complainants in the case of R v George Graham. You will be asked to email your training provider with your cross-examination questions a week before you attend your face-to-face training. Your course Facilitators will assess them in advance.

If you fail to submit your questions in advance or fail to demonstrate that you have engaged fully with the materials, you will not be permitted to continue to attend your face-to-face course. A lack of preparation on behalf of a delegate could affect the value of the course for others. For quality assurance purposes, training providers will be expected to demonstrate that they have followed this protocol. 

Optional resources

It is recommended that all Delegates are familiar with the materials listed below:

  • The Legal Research Paper - this is a compilation of current cases and legislation relevant to dealing with vulnerable witnesses
  • Criminal Practice Directions
  • Related podcasts
  • Related toolkits
  • Recommended reading list

Click on this link to access the optional resources.

Stage 2 - The face-to-face course

Each training provider will have engaged Facilitators to deliver the courses; please contact your provider of choice for details of courses dates and venues.

You must complete Stage 1 online preparation before attending the course.

Stage 3 - Consolidation Stage

The original project's working group and The Inns of Court College of Advocacy, ICCA (formerly the ATC) have put together a series of exemplar films demonstrating elements of best practice in relation to the fictional case upon which the case materials are based.

Upon your completion of the face-to-face training,  your provider will give you instructions on how to access these exemplar films.

After watching the films, you will be required to fill in a short form in order to be accredited as having completed your training.

Updating materials

During the life of the programme (2016-2018) we will endeavour to update materials as it becomes necessary. You should keep visiting these pages for the most up-to-date training materials.

s.28 recorded cross-examination protocol

The s.28 recorded cross-examination protocol has been extended to cover 16 -18 year olds and is being piloted in Liverpool, Leeds and Kingston.

This group of witnesses is usually only vulnerable by age and therefore will not necessarily require verbatim questions to be provided in advance. These witnesses are more able to withstand a traditional cross-examination. Follow this link to find out more.

Dealing with Vicarious and Secondary Trauma

The Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) wholeheartedly supports the Wellbeing at the Bar project which aims to tackle the stigma that is attached to mental illness; to empower advocates to make healthy life choices and to consciously manage their practice.

In providing materials that require advocates to closely consider the questions for a number of vulnerable witnesses who claim to have been the victims of abuse, ICCA wants to make sure that any barrister undertaking this training course knows that there are resources available that can help to guard against vicarious trauma and that will help to identify symptoms and deal with safeguarding.

Page last updated on 8 June 2017
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