The criminal training course takes place over three weekends and consists of presentations and tutorials from both the bench and experienced solicitor advocates. The course conveners are Solicitor Advocates John Keenan and Iain McSporran QC.
The planned criminal rights of audience course of training has been postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation and we will provide rescheduled dates as soon as possible.
During the course of training, the topics covered include preliminary hearings, prior statements, presenting criminal appeals, advocacy-using witnesses, taking evidence on commission, vulnerable witnesses and High Court etiquette.
Ahead of the oral assessment, there practical exercises including a mock oral assessments with feedback. The mock oral assessment is filmed and candidates are given copies to help with their preparation. Candidates are issues materials in advance and expected to prepare for some of the sessions ahead of the training weekends.
Candidates will be assessed on their ability to act for both the Crown and Defence.
Candidates are required to attend all training days in order to pass the course.
Each candidate is required to complete six days of sitting-in prior to the start of the training course. The breakdown of these six days should consist of:
Four days criminal appeals (three days in Conviction Appeal Court and one day in Sentence Appeal Court) and two days preliminary hearing.
For sitting-in you need to attend the court and request any relevant papers from the clerk. You will need to get the attendance card signed by the clerk. The business of the court is available on their website.
Sitting-In must be completed before the final oral assessment.
Training weekend one
The following topics will be covered over the course of the the first weekend:
- Mock Sentence Appeal exercise (candidates expected to prepare in advance and will be filmed)
- High Court etiquette
- Preliminary Hearings
- Management of complex and lengthy cases
- Prior Statements
- Criminal Appeals
- Advocacy using witnesses
- Taking evidence on Commission
- Advocacy skills
- Vulnerable witnesses
Training weekend two
The following topics will be covered over the course of the the second weekend:
- Appeal against sentence
- Conviction appeals and written submissions
- Discussion of how it can go wrong
- Section 275 exercises
- Pleas in mitigation
The final assessment takes place on a weekend day a few weeks after completion of the training course at the Court of Session, Parliament House, Edinburgh.
Candidates are asked to prepare and present a First instance exercise and Appeal against conviction exercise. Candidates will typically act for the Crown in one exercise and the Defence in the other.
The candidates will present to three judges. This is comprised of two experienced Advocates and an experienced member of the bench.
The course fees for both the criminal and civil course of training are £3,060. Payment is required in one lump sum prior to the course commencing via credit or debit card, or through invoice. Alternatively you can post a cheque for the full amount made payable to the Law Society of Scotland.