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St Catherine’s School mock trial participants have been crowned winners of the Law Society of NSW’s 39th Annual Mock Trial competition, in a year that has presented one of the most challenging and unprecedented contests to date.

The all-girls Anglican school from Sydney’s east overcame a year of social distancing, cancelled school classes, and remote learning, to take out the trophy in a nail-biting final against rivals from Newcastle Grammar School.

After the mock trial competition was temporarily disbanded in March due to COVID-19 lockdowns, teams were excited to see a touch of normality return to their school lives mid-year – albeit socially distanced and with elbow bumps in lieu of handshakes – when the competition reconvened in June. As the adult legal profession moved rapidly to online and virtual courtrooms, so too did high school mock trial competitors – competing in virtual trials over six rounds involving 90 schools, approximately 700 students and 80 volunteer solicitors across NSW.

The final trial took place in person at the Law Society of NSW in December, the first face-to-face trial to run since the competition was paused. St Catherine’s team faced fierce competition from opponents Newcastle Grammar School.

The grand final trial saw the students dissect a case and construct arguments for a criminal matter in which the defendant was charged for breaking and entering, under Section 112(2) of the Crimes Act 1900. The case tested the students’ ability to prove each element of their case whilst adhering to formal procedures of a court room.

The runners-up, students from Newcastle Grammar School, had strong results throughout the year and showed their worth as commendable competitors on the day.

The grand final judges, lawyers Ellen McKenzie and Virginia Marshall, both long-serving supporters of the competition, applauded the two teams on their accomplishment for reaching the grand final, and remarked on the impressive ability of the competition to produce passionate, confident and sharp-minded advocates.

The 2021 Mock Trial competition will commence on the 22 February, and is currently seeking volunteers to act as magistrates, case writers and team coaches. If you would like to be involved, please contact the Mock Law Coordinator at [email protected]