by Donna Hutchinson
London based TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara
Another successful trip to add to my growing repertoire!
Today I took my students to the Royal Courts of Justice as this week’s topic has been Rules and Freedom. I was a little apprehensive at first because much of the law terminology can be confusing and I have favoured studying the topic with higher level classes. However, my high intermediate class took to the subject well and so I thought I’d take a chance. Also, I’d never been to the courts before and had heard it was a good experience in general.
We met at Holborn station and walked down together. Temple station is actually closer and at first, I regretted not setting that as the meeting place but, it would become clear that my initial decision was the right one. After my last trip to the Old Bailey where they are really rather strict with personal possessions I had asked my students not to bring too much stuff and to dress a little more smart; no jeans or trainers. After an airport-like security check, we were free to wander the halls as we pleased and drop in on any courts which allowed public viewing (most of them). Unfortunately, the Leveson Inquiry was not in session but, we managed to stumble upon some very interesting cases, nonetheless.
The building itself is stunning and in the main hall, with the barristers gliding around in their wigs and robes, you can’t help but feel a little like you’re in Harry Potter. The atmosphere and the architecture are an advantage over the Old Bailey (perhaps something to consider for lower levels). There is also a hallway displaying the robes and wigs through history.
We sat in on two different cases; one was an application for a reduced sentence, the other a request for bail. We really lucked out on the cases we observed. There are around 30 courtrooms in total meaning that there are quite a few courts in session and ample choice. We arrived in time to hear judges summarizing the cases and giving their verdict, very beneficial in language terms. The case for bail was even better because the claimant and his family were also in the courtroom and we were able to witness the emotion that overcame them when the judge granted bail; the wife fell to the floor in tears and began to pray.
Afterwards we strolled down Middle Temple Lane to see the different barristers’ Chambers. Also, the day before we had watched BBC law drama, Silk (amazing for setting context) in which a scene had been filmed at the end of Middle Temple Lane. Unfortunately, the great British weather decided to show its ugly side and we were forced to retire to a cafe next to Temple station. There we spoke about the day over a nice cuppa.
All in all, a very successful trip! I highly recommend it.
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