Dundee Sheriff Court Hosts Lawyers of the Future

Children from primary schools around Tayside convene at Dundee Sheriff Court to hear the case of Talk and Text v Mrs Norah Telfer in a School Mock Court Case Project.

Yesterday I attended at Dundee Sheriff Court to watch a civil evidential hearing.  The Sheriff gave careful consideration to the witnesses’ testimony and the productions, together with the written pleadings before making a decision.  It was no different to any debt recovery action that our sheriff courts deal with on a daily basis except for one thing; all of the solicitors, and the witnesses were children.

On 17 and 18 January 2017 children from primary schools around Tayside convened at Dundee Sheriff Court to hear the case of Talk and Text v Mrs Norah Telfer for the School Mock Court Case Project.  The case revolves around Mrs Norah Telfer who sent her grandson to get a mobile phone but ends up with one that she claims is not suitable and overcharges her.  Talk n Text want to be paid for the services they rendered but Mrs Telfer thinks that is unfair.

Just as in any other debt recovery action the children, or solicitors on each side, had prepared an initial writ and defences which had been adjusted in response to the other side's arguments.  They had also prepared inventories of productions with written evidence to be lodged with the court, including stills from CCTV footage, invoices, letters and contracts.  In the case I watched, the crucial piece of evidence was a recorded delivery receipt confirming that Mrs Telfer had received the terms and conditions from Talk and Text.  Most of the productions had been created by the teams for the case.

As well as the productions, the gowns of the solicitors had been made by the children, who had also prepared a raft of artwork, newspaper articles and legal research.  The taking of evidence from the witnesses that was seen in court was the tip of the iceberg; the entire class had contributed to the project along the way.  The level of creativity on display from all the schools taking part was remarkable.

My role as a mentor was to explain to the children what happens in a courtroom during an evidential hearing and the preparation that goes before that.  I gave them tips on how to take evidence from witnesses, speak to the Sheriff and to prepare their written case.

In the hearing I watched, both sets of solicitors did a good job.  However, I'm pleased to say that the children I mentored from Dundee High were ultimately successful and received a good mark from Sheriff Way.  The project is a competition but the appearance in court represents only one third of the overall mark so we will have to wait for the final tally to see if they won the regional heat.

The School Mock Court Case Project is of great benefit to all those who take part, whether they are successful in the case or not, and it ties in well with the curriculum for excellence.  The children required to consider a lot of very subtle arguments and also issues in relation to the arithmetic of the bill and the legal status of children entering into contracts.  Most importantly, they had to understand that different people could have a different perspective on the same events. I would certainly recommend to any schools thinking of taking part in the future to do so.

Mike Kemp is an Associate in our Personal Injury team and can be contacted on 01382 723 171 or mkemp@thorntons-law.co.uk. Alternatively, contact the Personal Injury Team on 01382 229 111 who will be pleased to assist further.

Categories: Personal Injury

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