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SmartLaw is a programme from Young Citizens.



To enter the Bar Mock Trial Competition, you must first register for a SmartLaw account, complete the online application form, and pay the full entry fee (see point 3). By entering the competition, the ‘lead teacher’ assumes responsibility for preparing the team, disseminating the relevant resources, ensuring that their team attends the heat on the relevant day of the competition on time and making sure that the team is supervised during the day. This responsibility may be shared with an additional ‘support teacher’ in your school. The relevant teachers must remain communicative and inform Young Citizens in writing if circumstances in their school have changed that may impact their team’s participation in the competition.


The competition is open to students aged 15 to 18 from non-fee paying schools and education providers in the British Isles (years 10 – 13 in England and Wales, years 11 – 14 in Northern Ireland and S4 – S6 in Scotland).  Teams are between 10 – 15 students (16 in Scotland) and each school can enter a maximum of one team. Your team needs to be prepared to compete on a Saturday during heat weekends. Some online heats may take place on weekdays.


The entry fee of £230 entitles you to competition preparation material, cases, online video resources, two complimentary places in the Court Artist and Court Reporter Competitions, and allocation to a regional heat. Where possible, this will also include provision of a barrister mentor.

The Bar Mock Trial PLUS membership of £300 includes unlimited access for 12 months to more than twenty-five lessons, which tackle a number of SMSC, Citizenship and PSHE themes using the topic of the law, as well as the benefits listed above.

The entry fee must be received by the final date of payment (15th September 2023) for your school to be allocated a place in the competition, be considered for a barrister mentor and receive the case materials.


Allocations will not be processed until both your application form and entry fee have been received.

Each year of the competition we receive more applications than we have places available. Priority will be given to applications in the following order:

          1. new schools which have applied before the deadline, or schools which we consider will help to meet our goals of increasing social mobility and social inclusion through the programme;
          2. reserve schools which were not placed in the previous year and have applied before the deadline;
          3. schools that participated in the competition in the previous year and have applied before the deadline;
          4. schools that have applied after the deadline; and
          5. schools that have previously failed to attend heats with little/no notice.

In 2023/24, we will be allocating in stages. If we have been able to confirm your venue by the 15th September, you will take part in a  heat in November – early December. Dependent on venue availability, we may need to host some physical heats in January. You will be notified if this is the case. Any virtual heats will take place in January. Most heats will take place on a Saturday; you will be notified if this is not the case.


We aim to provide all teams with a place in the competition but if a heat is oversubscribed, we may allocate you a reserve place on the waiting list. Reserve teams should prepare for the competition, however will only be allocated a place at the heat if another school withdraws. You will be notified via email if your reserve team is later allocated a place in the competition. All reserve schools will be given the option to participate in an online heat.


You must actively inform, via email, a member of the Young Citizens team of your intention to withdraw. The deadline for refunded withdrawals is Friday 6th October 2023. Withdrawals on or before this date will receive a full refund minus a £40 administration fee. Withdrawals after this date will not be refunded. Withdrawals after the deadline cause considerable logistical problems for us and may affect our ability to place you in the competition in future years.


We are committed to delivering a mock trial experience for everyone who is allocated a place next year in some form at the locations listed. We will be using the following approach when deciding venues for next year:

  1. Courts – We are currently in the process of checking in with courts nationally to see if they are able to accommodate us for next cycle. If they confirm that we are able to use the court building, this will be the venue we use.
  2. Alternative Venues – If courts are unable to host us, we will try and secure alternative venues in the local area such as halls, universities etc.
  3. Online Competition – If either of the above options are not possible, we will host the competition online using a platform such as Zoom.

Please note – this may mean that heats may be held slightly differently in different locations.


Once you have been successful with your application and been allocated a place at a regional heat, you will receive two specially written criminal cases, guides for each student role, and a school guide to prepare for trial. You must prepare both defence and prosecution for both cases.


Each team should consist of four barristers/advocates, four witnesses, a clerk, an usher/macer and five jury members (six in Scotland). Each student role is provided with specific guidelines on how to prepare for their role. Your team will present a clerk when prosecuting a case and an usher/macer when defending. If you are unable to make up a team of 15, you can compete with as few as 8 students if you double up on certain roles. Please see FAQs as to how this works.


We offer video resources demonstrating key advocacy skills to help assist your team during preparation. Where possible, we aim to provide schools new to the competition with a mentor (either a legal professional or law student) to help with preparations. These are volunteers who give up their time to support teams to understand court etiquette and the art of advocacy. They will not go through the case itself or help with building arguments. Please note that provision of a mentor is not guaranteed and is subject to availability.

We send out a monthly school newsletter outlining the preparation stage you need to focus on with your team each month and highlighting any additional support/resources available. This is sent each mid-month from the closing date of applications.

We will host three online teacher support sessions once a month from September; content will be customised to include key information relevant to that stage of the Bar Mock Trial competition.

The Mock Trials team at Young Citizens is available throughout the process with phone or email assistance to provide support from throughout the competition cycle.


We are unable to provide support for travel or accommodation to the regional heats or National Final. Please ensure that you have considered the cost implications of participating in the competition before applying.


At the regional heat, teams will argue two cases across three rounds. In Round 1 and Round 3, you will use Case 1 and have the opportunity to argue both on behalf of the prosecution and the defence. In Round 2, all teams will argue either on behalf of the prosecution or the defence of Case 2. Where possible, you will find out which side you are presenting in each round by the Wednesday before your regional heat.  NOTE: schools should still prepare the prosecution and defence of both cases because the draw is subject to change.

The winning team will be selected on points after the three rounds; this is following the successful format of the National Final 2023, where a Q&A session was introduced into the schedule, allowing students to benefit from additional time with and feedback from judges.


Each participating student (apart from those on the jury) is given a score out of ten for their performance by a judge. There is also a team score out of ten for each round. The scoring is based on criteria such as clarity, quality of arguments, accuracy, non-reliance on notes and timekeeping. Judges’ decisions are always final and cannot be appealed.

The verdict of the trial (guilty or not guilty) is decided by the jury, but has no relevance to the scoring and therefore progression in the competition.


Total team scores are decided by the cumulative point difference over three rounds. For example, if a team wins Round One by 4 points, loses Round Two by 1 point and then wins Round Three by 2 Points, they will have a total of +5 points as well as 2 trial wins. The team with the most trial wins and/or the highest point difference over Rounds 1, 2 and 3 will progress on to the National Final.



See FAQs for quick answers to common questions and see timeline & locations for dates and heat venues. If you have any questions about our Mock Trial Competitions, email us or call us at 020 7566 4141.

Please see terms and conditions for further details.

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