I have just returned from organising the International Advocacy Course of the Human Rights Committee of the Law Society from the 3rd to 6th October 2013 in Diyabakir, Turkey.
In response to an approach from the Diyarbakir Bar Association in South East Turkey, the HRC organised an inaugural advocacy course for more than 60 lawyers in Diyarbakir in October 2013. Turkey, like many other European countries, has an “inquisitorial” judicial procedure typical of civil law systems. Judges and lawyers in this system often have limited experience of questioning witnesses as this is not normally regarded as an essential part of their trial procedure.
New rules introduced in Turkey in 2007 giving defence counsel the right to question witnesses prompted the request for assistance from the Diyarbakir bar in 2013. In practice these rules have been little used. Turkish lawyers have generally reported an extreme reluctance on the part of the judiciary to allow them to actively participate in the examination of witnesses. They also felt they lacked the skills necessary to undertake effective examination or cross examination of any witnesses since these skills are not included in their professional training
The IAC is an intensive 3 day training programme that covers trial preparation, examination in chief, and cross examination in contested civil and criminal trials. The advocacy trainers included experienced practising defence and prosecution lawyers Judges from the UK.
Over three days the delegates were introduced to classical case analysis, involving identification of a case theory, development of a chronology, a cast of characters and an issue analysis (identifying “good facts” and “bad facts”), developing case theories and themes and preparing written outlines of the questions to be put to witnesses.
The sessions consisted of a mixture of taught theory and practical role play, when delegates practice examination in chief and cross examination of witnesses in the context of a case study prepared to reflect the underlying factual scenarios they may encounter in Turkey.
The 2013 IAC in Diyabakir was very well received and attracted positive local and national media coverage. Plans are afoot to return to Turkey next year with a similar event for the Turkish Bar.