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, | Blended course

Advocacy and the Vulnerable (4 October 2022)

12 hoursAdvanced

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.

Who this is for


Learning outcomes

SRA competence: A1  +3 more for SRA competence: A1, A2, B5, C2

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.

How you will learn

The training involves three sequential stages which must be completed in order:

  • Stage 1 (due on 26 September 2022): An online course (minimum study length, eight hours) developed by the ICCA. You will also be required to construct a set of cross-examination questions based on an example court case which is included in the materials.
  • Stage 2 (4 October 2022 9:30-12:30): Live training limited to four delegates and one facilitator (approximately three hours).
  • Stage 3: A period of reflection on the learning via online exemplar films and consolidation (approximately one hour).

We suggest you leave three weeks between starting the online course (Stage 1) and attending the live training (Stage 2).

Stage 1 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 2 is an interactive session involving cross-examination training. Every participant will be expected to undertake some advocacy at some stage during the course and therefore each participant must fully prepare for the interactive session.

Stage 3 is an online module containing exemplar videos that every participant must view in order to complete the course.