Advocacy in the Magistrates Court

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Course Overview

This six part course is essential for all solicitors starting out at the Magistrates Court.

During this training, experienced lecturer, barrister and former duty solicitor, Colin Beaumont will identify the pitfalls which can ambush unwary advocates and will discuss a selection of difficult Magistrates Court scenarios and provide detailed guidance on how to handle them successfully.

With over 95% of criminal cases being tried at a Magistrates' court, this comprehensive series of webinars will also be of interest to experienced criminal practitioners who wish to refresh their knowledge of court procedure and the advocacy skills required in order to successfully defend (and prosecute) cases in the Magistrates Court.

Part 1

This webinar will examine the structure of a criminal trial and will consider the following:

  • Cross-Examination of witnesses in criminal cases techniques and scenarios – Do’s & Don’ts
  • Re-examination – Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should
  • Witnesses – What to do if a witness turns hostile?
  • Court presence – What is this and how you can get it?
  • Is there a case to answer?
  • Half time submissions and closing speeches – What should you include?
  • Hearsay – How to make and respond to an application for hearsay
  • Examination-in-Chief – how to assist your client when giving evidence
  • ‘Damage limitation exercises’ if your client has not stood up well to cross-examination
  • Bad character - How to make and respond to an application for bad character

Part 2

This webinar will focus on advocacy during case management and will consider the following:

  • What course of action the court will take depending upon the plea entered?
  • What happens if the client has no defence? Informing the court that ‘you put the prosecutor to proof on the matter and that you have no positive case to advance yourself’ – see the case of R v Gavin Rochford
  • Avoiding professional embarrassment
  • Bail - Recommended structure to use when conducting an application
  • Unconditional bail
  • How to deal with the prosecutions exceptions to bail – Ensuring bail conditions are necessary and proportionate
  • Why you should avoid stating that your client would ‘be willing to abide by any condition that was required by the court’
  • Advocacy involved in breach of bail proceedings

Part 3 & Part 4

These two webinars will focus on plea in mitigation and will consider the following:

  • Requesting a stand down report or an adjournment for a full pre-sentence report – This won’t be popular but don’t be afraid to ask if this is in your client’s best interest
  • What to do if your client wants to plead guilty to ‘get things over with’
  • Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines - Be realistic and guide the court through the applicable steps – A good plea in mitigation requires a structured approach
  • Sentencing - Sometimes the best result which you and your client can hope for is the suspension of the client’s custodial sentence
  • Pre-Sentence Reports – How to shorten your plea in mitigation and save time  
  • Financial details - Poor advocates take further instructions regarding payment
  • Suspended sentences – A good plea in mitigation can make all the difference
  • How to ask the court for a particular sentence, conditional discharge or a deferred sentence

Part 5 & Part 6

These two webinars will focus on advocacy in the Youth Court and will consider the following:

  • Asking the court for an absolute discharge
  • Financial penalties
  • How to seek a community based penalty, even for non-imprisonable offences
  • How to address the court on the issue of whether or not your client is a ‘persistent offender’
  • The Serious and Grave Crimes procedure
  • Obtaining a Referral Order for your client – The circumstances in which such an order is mandatory and when it is discretionary – How to address the court in each instance

What are the requirements?

  • Watch the series of recorded webinars and review the supporting documentation

Learning Outcomes

  • On completion of this course you will:
  • • Notice an improvement in your advocacy skills both in the way you interact with the client and how you present yourself in court
  • • Be familiar with the tricks of the trade when representing clients at the Magistrates Court
  • • Be able to identify common pitfalls and know how to avoid them
  • • Have considered difficult Magistrate’s Court scenarios which you may come across in practice and know how to act accordingly
  • • Feel more confident when representing clients at the Magistrate’s Court

What is the target audience?

  • This six part course is essential for all solicitors starting out at the Magistrates Court.




About Instructor - Colin Beaumont

Colin Beaumont graduated in law in 1981 and qualified as a Barrister in 1982. He worked for many years in the Magistrates’ Court service until 1996 when he re-qualified as a Solicitor and joined a large criminal legal aid practice. He became a partner with the firm. He retired as a solicitor in 2016 and has returned to his Inn of Court at The Inner Temple. Colin has been teaching the profession for the last 25 years and continues to do so.

Course Curriculum

Part 1

  • Webinar
  • Slides
    13 Page

Part 2

  • webinar
  • Slides
    19 Page

Part 3

  • webinar
  • Slides
    5 Page

Part 4

  • webinar- Advocacy in the Magistrates Court 4 of 6
  • Slides
    23 Page

Part 5

  • webinar
  • Slides
    18 Page

Part 6

  • webinar
  • Slides
    9 Page


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