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SmartLaw is a programme from Young Citizens.



To enter the Independent School Mock Trial Competition, you must register for a SmartLaw account, complete an 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 needed to prepare, ensuring that their team attends the heat on the relevant day of the competition on time, and supervises the team during the duration of 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 impacts their team’s participation in the competition.


The competition is open to students from two age categories aged 11 to 14 and 15 to 18  from independent schools in England (years 7 – 9 and 10 – 13 in England).  Teams are between 10 – 15 students and each school can enter a maximum of one team from each age category. Your team needs to be prepared to compete on a Saturday during heat weekends. Some virtual heats may take place on weekdays.


The entry fee of £850 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 if places are available. Where possible, this may include provision of a barrister mentor too.

The Independent School Mock Trial PLUS Membership of £920 includes unlimited access to more than twenty-five lessons which tackle a number of SMSC, Citizenship and PSHE themes using the topic of the law for 12 months, as well as the benefits listed above.

If you are entering two teams the price will be £1300 in total. When completing the application form please select both age categories and select the invoice payment option, this will ensure you are paying the correct amount.

The entry fee must be received by the final date of payment (27th 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 application form and entry fee have been received. Where possible, we will endeavour to place you in your first choice location. This may not be possible if your heat is already full at the time of application. If this is the case, we will place you in your second choice location.


We endeavour to provide all teams who apply 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 team has changed allocation status from waiting list to competing. All reserve teams will be offered the option to participate in a later virtual competition.


You must actively inform, via email, a member of the Young Citizens team of your intention to withdraw. The deadline for refunded withdrawals is 14th 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 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, four witnesses, a clerk, an usher and five jury members. Each student role is provided with specific guidelines on how to prepare for their role within the guide. Your team will present a clerk when prosecuting a case and an usher when defending. If you are unable to make up a team of 15, you can compete with as few as eight students if you double up on certain roles. Please see FAQs as to how this works.


We offer video resources to help assist your team during preparation and demonstrate key advocacy skills. Where possible, we will aim to provide new schools with a barrister mentor or law student mentor to help with preparations. These are volunteer professionals or law students 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. Additionally, we are encouraging schools to get in touch with their alumni networks to gain support.

The Mock Trials team at Young Citizens is available throughout the process with phone or email assistance to provide support from the application stage, preparation and post-trial queries.


We are unable to provide support for travel and accommodation to any heats. Please ensure that you have considered the cost implications of entering the competition before applying.


Each regional heat consists of three rounds in which teams will argue two cases. In Round 1 and Round 3, every team will argue both on behalf of the prosecution and the defence of Case 1. In Round 2, all teams will argue either on behalf of the prosecution or 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.


Each participating student (apart from 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. In the competition, 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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