Advocacy Competition in its 49th Year
The Hammond Cup Advocacy Competition Final
On 13 April trainee solicitor Elliott Moulster took part in the final of the Hammond Cup. The event is in its 49th year. It is an advocacy competition organised by the Junior Lawyers Division of the Nottinghamshire Law Society. It is open to students, paralegals, trainee solicitors and pupil barristers.
The final of the competition involved a mock trial. The facts were as follows. Mr James Connway had been accused of assaulting Mr Henry Hill by striking him in the face as he cycled down the A609. It was alleged that Connway had been driving in a reckless and intimidating manner. The intimidation had led to the complainant fearing that he would be run off the road.
After this intimidatory driving, the Connway was said to have stopped his car in a lay-by. He then got out of his car and waited to confront the complainant. Anticipating trouble, the complainant said he attempted to avoid any confrontation by simply cycling past. He alleged that as he did so, Connway raised his hand and hit the him in the face fracturing his nose.
After the assault, the complaint took pictures of the defendant’s car for the purpose of identification. The complainant was also assisted by a member of the public, Mr Morrie Kessler, who had witnessed the entire assault. The defendant was said to have simply driven away. He was subsequently invited to attend a voluntary police station interview.
Elliott acted on behalf of the prosecution and would be presenting the evidence as set out above. Unfortunately there were numerous problems with the prosecution case. These included inconsistencies between the prosecution witnesses, many opportunities to challenge their recollection combined with serious problems regarding identification.
The trial itself was conducted in one of the mock court rooms at Nottingham Trent University. As there were four finalists two trials were held. One finalist acted for the prosecution and one for the defence in each trial. The advocates were judged by members of the legal profession acting as magistrates. The witnesses were played by members of the junior lawyer’s division.
Elliott’s opening speech was perhaps the highlight of his problematic case. He faced an uphill battle to put his case across through his examination in chief of his difficult witnesses. The structure of the trial was a test of the advocate’s ability to manage their witnesses and elicit important information.
At the conclusion of the competition, Elliott secured a creditable third place against some very tough competition. Although he was very proud of this achievement, he has vowed to return next year to improve on this position during what will undoubtedly be a special 50th Anniversary Hammond Cup.