On Wednesday 5thDecember 2018, the Inns of Court committee in collaboration with the Canadian Law Society, ran a trip to London with 30 students, where we were able to witness first-hand how the country’s legal system operates.
The day started with a trip to the Supreme Court. Here, we were met by a tour guide who took us into one of the court rooms and gave us some background information on the importance and operation of the Court. Then, as a way to engage our legal minds, he brought up some of his favourite and most controversial cases that have been heard in the Supreme Court and was keen to hear what our thoughts were on the outcome. One of the most striking examples was the case of Lee v Ashers Baking Company Ltd, in which a Christian bakery refused to ice a cake in support of gay marriage. As the tour guide was not legally trained, his questioning sought to challenge what we considered to be a morally just outcome, as well as whether we understood the legal procedure involved. The debate that ensued allowed us all to engage with new topics and develop our points of argument.
From there, we visited other court rooms, including the room in which the Privy Council sit, where we were informed more about the function of the Privy Council in this jurisdiction.
After such an engaging tour, we went off for lunch in Covent Garden, before reconvening in the afternoon to visit the Royal Courts of Justice. Here, we were met by two very informative tour guides, who took us into one of the building’s many court rooms, court number 13, which is frequently used for defamation related cases. We were then informed about the history of the grand building, its use today and most importantly the rule that photography was forbidden! After a quick question and answer session, we split into groups to have a tour of the courts, where we were able to witness the impressive architecture and the importance of the many sculptures and paintings that were on show. Unfortunately, the only case that was currently being heard had reporting restrictions in place so we were not able to sit in, however that meant that we had more time to walk around the vast building, which really was like a maze! Everyone was very impressed by the intricate detail of the building, and by the amount of high-profile cases that are heard there every year.
After this, we were able to spend a bit of time in London to have dinner and reflect on everything we had learnt in the day, before setting off on the coach home.
This highly informative and enjoyable trip happened thanks to the generosity of Lord Fulford, who set up a fund to support such important extracurricular activities. We are all very grateful for the opportunity and are excited to hopefully be able to host more trips like this in the future!