Court Familiarisation and Evidence Giving
This a two-day course designed to provide social workers with insight into the legal system together with the skills and confidence to give effective and compelling evidence in court.
How Long is the Course?
Who is the Course Aimed at?
The course is designed for a wide range of social workers – from those newly qualified to those with court experience but wishing to improve their skills.
Learning Outcomes and Course Details
Delegates will learn, in a supportive and dynamic environment:
- The different types of court hearings involving children
- Private law proceedings
- Public law proceedings (and the Children’s Guardian)
- The importance of the social worker’s role within the court process
- The requirement of concise, evidence based written assessments
- Lawyers – their role, duties and rules
- Judges – their role, requirements and the decision making process
- The practice and procedure of the court
- How a trial takes place
- Practical tips for giving evidence
- How to present evidence in court
- How to deal with challenging cross-examination
- How to learn from and share experience as a witness
- The course is conducted in a dynamic, informal and accessible way
- Delegates are encouraged to participate in discussions, share experiences and ask questions at any time
- There is a full workbook provided for each delegate, which includes all relevant materials
- The first day looks at the court process and providing practical tips and advice whereas the second day is a practical “role play” day where delegates are asked, in turn, to enter a virtual “witness box” and provide oral evidence on a subject of their own choosing. This experienced is then discussed and constructive criticism provided by the trainer. Later in the day, delegates return to the “witness box” and are cross-examined by the trainer. Again, this experience is discussed and reflected upon. The emphasis is very much upon enhancing, rather than undermining delegates confidence in the witness box.
- Subjects covered include:
- The role of lawyers, the Judge and the Children’s Guardian
- The role of the Local Authority in court proceedings, the legal team, the “burden of proof” and the “standard of proof”
- The social worker and the legal system – the expectations of the court
- The importance of written evidence and how to produce concise, authoritative, evidence-based analysis
- The trial process – examination in chief and cross-examination
- The hearing – and what to expect
- Practical tips for the witness and how to deal with cross-examination
- The course adheres to the requirements set out in the Department for Education’s “Post-qualifying standard: knowledge and skills statement for child and family practitioners” (KSS) and within the Professional Capabilities Framework of the British Association of Social Workers
Please find a session plan below:
Day 1 (9.30 – 4.30)
9.30 – 10.45 Introductions. Background.
What do we know about courts? Why do we need courts? The different types of court proceedings involving children. Private law and public law. The role of the Children’s Guardian. Are social workers valued in the system? The importance of balanced and evidence-based assessments. What the court expects from social workers. How courts decide – the burden and standard(s) of proof.
10.45 -11.00 Break
11.00 – 12.30 The lawyers – who are they and what do they do?
The differences between solicitors and barristers. Why do they represent bad people? Some ethical problems. What are their rules? What are their duties (and how much are they paid?).
Judges – Where are they from? Do they live in the real world? What do they know about social work? Why do they get annoyed?
12.30 – 1.30 Break
1.30 – 2.45 The court experience. What the inside of a court looks like.
How a court hears a trial – from opening to judgment. Examination in chief, cross- examination, re-examination and Judges questions. Public law trials and private law trials. What to expect as a witness. Taking an oath. What to call judges and magistrates. How to deal with questions. How to convey authority and calmness.
2.45 – 3.00 Break
3.00 – 4.30 Cross-examination (in detail). Why cross examination becomes hostile and how to deal with it when it does.
How to learn from experiences – and how to improve as a witness. Feedback, discussion and homework for day 2
Day 2 (9.30 – 4.30)
Practical exercises for smaller groups of up to 15 participants. Delegates take turns in the “witness box” giving evidence on a subject of their own choosing. Discussion and individual feedback as to the experience. Later, delegates return to the “witness box” for questioning by the trainer. All criticism and questioning is designed to be constructive, supportive and to enhance delegate’s confidence as a witness.