British barristers put Odesa prosecutors through unique witness-handling training

September 24, 2018

Thirty-five prosecutors from the Odesa region were given an intensive one-week training course in the most effective techniques to present evidence and handle witnesses in court from 16 -21 September. The training was organised by the EU Advisory Mission Ukraine (EUAM) and delivered by the United Kingdom’s globally respected Inns of Court College of Advocacy.

“For the first time ever, the focus is on the witness, and the conduct and the handling of witnesses in the courts of Ukraine,” stressed Jonathan Ratel, Lead Adviser on Prosecution. The training of prosecutors in Ukraine traditionally concentrates on the handling of documents, rather than how to handle witnesses in court and present a case.  

The training was designed to be as practical as possible and was designed as a mock court trial, which gave prosecutors an opportunity to practise their advocacy skills, in particular how to address a court persuasively and concisely present a case in a manner which is clear, structured and efficient. Key advocacy skills include case analysis, use of skeleton arguments, oral submissions, examinations-in-chief and cross-examination, pleas in mitigation and legal submissions.

“The programme follows a pattern that we have used in many occasions before. We start with what we call case analysis. By this, I mean that before we embark on the presentation of a case, we need to know its strengths and weaknesses. We need to know what evidence we can call on and how the other side is likely to counteract it. We need to know where the other side’s case is strong and where it is weak. In short, we need to know the case inside out,” said the lead trainer, Peter Birkett QC.

EUAM, together with the Prosecution Academy of Ukraine and the General Prosecutors Office (GPO) in Kyiv, is in the process of reviewing the training in Odesa, and also looks forward to building on the success of the project by identifying other opportunities to advance urgent and key judicial reforms in Ukraine.