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Advocacy and the Vulnerable (4 October 2022)


Stage 1a: Pre-course work
Each delegate is required to carry out approximately eight hours of coursework, which involves reading and watching the external material accessible from the start link below (Stage 1a). This content was developed in conjunction with the Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA).

The online course aims to explain some of the rationale behind the course and covers child development; the ground breaking case law from the Court of Appeal underlining the importance of adapting practice to fit the needs of witnesses; and the conscious adjustments that may be necessary for handling witness vulnerability.


Stage 1b: Cross-examination questions
Delegates must construct and submit a set of cross-examination questions (Stage 1b), based on an example court case which is included in the materials.

All cross-examination questions must be received by 26 September 2022.

Each delegate must construct their own set of questions and save a copy for their records, to be used in Stage 2. They must NOT complete this task as part of a group. Once questions have been submitted, it will not be possible to make any further changes.


Stage 2: Live training course
This three-hour interactive session is scheduled on 4 October 2022 between 9:30-12:30. Participants will take part in role plays based around the example court case. 

Delegates can only attend the live training if they have submitted their cross-examination questions by the deadline, without any issues raised by the facilitator. They will be notified by email once their questions have been reviewed and they are eligible to attend the training.


Stage 3: Consolidation
The third and final stage of training requires delegates to watch a number of videos. You will be able to access them via the link below within two working days of completing Stage 2.

Course Description


  • 12 hours
  • Advanced
This programme has been designed to ensure all solicitor advocates dealing with vulnerable witnesses understand the key principles behind the approach to, and questioning of, vulnerable people in the justice system. Recognising and dealing appropriately with vulnerability is a skill that can be taught. There is a wide spectrum of vulnerabilities, from age and background, to physical or mental health and other developmental issues. The training involves three sequential stages which must be completed from September to October 2022. The live session (Stage 2) is scheduled on Tuesday 4 October 2022 between 9:30-12:30. The Advocacy and the Vulnerable training was developed in conjunction with the Bar and the Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) to help solicitor advocates and barristers strike the balance between advancing their client’s case effectively in court whilst ensuring vulnerable witnesses are not subjected to undue stress. We anticipate that the Ministry of Justice will make this training compulsory for all publicly-funded advocates before they can act in serious sexual offences cases.

Learning outcomes

Throughout the programme, delegates will:

  • Understand the importance of adapting practices to accommodate children and vulnerable witnesses in court, and be aware of the development of the law in this area of practice.
  • Understand and be able to apply best practice in relation to conducting cross-examination of key witnesses in accordance to the Ground Rules and Section 28 Hearings (GRH).
  • Understand how characteristics of children and their development influence their ability to function as useful and credible witnesses in the legal system.
  • Understand and apply the key principles behind the approach to, and questioning of, vulnerable people in the justice system.
  • Understand and apply the relevant Criminal Procedure Rules & Criminal Practice Directions.
  • Be able to recognise and deal appropriately with vulnerable witnesses in court.

What this will cover

The training offers an opportunity for solicitor advocates to strengthen their skills and to demonstrate continuing competence.

It is likely that in due course advocates who have not attended this training will not be able to participate in publicly funded serious sexual offences cases involving vulnerable witnesses.