This year the event took place at Anglia Ruskin University, which is itself celebrating 50 years of delivering undergraduate law degrees. BBC Essex’s Dave Monk compered proceedings and provided some lighter moments which no doubt assisted in alleviating any pre-performance nerves.
Gepp & Sons were delighted to welcome a host of distinguished members of our community including the Mayor and Mayoress of Chelmsford, the Lord Lieutenant Lord Petre and the High Sheriff Julia Abel-Smith.
Teams from Chelmsford County High School, Felsted, Great Baddow, King Edward VI Grammar, New Hall, Ormiston Rivers Academy, St John Payne Catholic Comprehensive and William De Ferrers entered the debating arena to argue about whether the UK should continue to have the option of punishing its most serious offenders with whole life prison sentences thereby depriving them of any prospect of release or rehabilitation. The issue was fiercely contested by all participants before a highly esteemed panel of High Court and Crown Court judges comprising of The Honourable Mr Justice Burnett, Her Honour Judge Walden-Smith, His Honour Judge Ball, His Honour Judge Graham, His Honour Judge Newton and Kathleen McMahon, a senior lecturer atAngliaLawSchool.
At the conclusion of the First Round, the two schools deemed to offer the most persuasive arguments were William De Ferrers and reigning champions St John Payne, who then progressed to the Final Round.
Speeches were heard from members of the Essex Boys & Girls Club who spoke about their experiences of volunteering and Michelle McCanna from Anglia Ruskin University who recounted some of the university’s remarkable achievements and reflected over significant changes inUKlaw over the past 50 years.
In the Final Round, a plea in mitigation was heard by the two finalists whose objective was to try to obtain a lenient sentence for their ‘client’, a young mother who had pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal damage. In response to a presentation by the ‘Crown Prosecution Service’ provided by Gepps & Sons’ Peter Butterfield, both teams put forward their reasons and arguments as to why their client should be spared the fate of a prison sentence and furthermore remained calm and collected in the face of questioning from several of the judges.
The judges struggled to select the overall winner and ultimately relied on a casting vote in order to make their decision. The result fell in St John Payne’s favour who therefore retain custody of the winners silver salver. ‘Best Speakers’ prizes were also awarded to Elise Horsham from KEGS and Henrietta Hall from CCHS.
We hope all participants have gained valuable insight into the judicial and court processes and enjoyed the experience of practising their mooting and presentation skills before the audience.