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Tough Topics | Trial by Media

Monday 19th of February 2024 17:45

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Sherrard Room


​​​​​​​17:45 ~ Doors Open
18:15 ~ Lecture
19:15 ~ Reception

Expected to end at approx. 20:30

Event Details

Should 'Trial by Media' be considered a 'public service' or 'contempt of court'?

Overview of Tough Topic Sessions

As a barrister you may well be called upon to represent somebody whom you do not like, or to present an argument with which you do not agree.   The ability to look at your own case (and your opponent’s) objectively is a key skill.

Many of the cases with which barristers are involved involve people in a heightened emotional state.  Some raise a large amount of public attention and, possibly, outcry. The barrister’s ability to remain calm and focussed on their task is vital in these circumstances.
We live in a society where such an approach to issues is often discouraged or ridiculed.  Expression of views on some topics attracts significant negative attention and therefore many stay silent.

The purpose of the “Tough Topics” sessions is to assist in training barristers, in particular students and pupils, to focus on issues and see them in an objective and balanced way without allowing personal views to play any part.

The format of the session 

Each session will focus on a highly controversial issue or topic.   The session will be chaired by an experienced lawyer.   They will assist in facilitating the session and ensuring that the purpose of the session is preserved.

A speaker on opposing sides of the issue will each speak (uninterrupted) for 10-15 minutes.
Participants will then be allowed to ask questions which must only be designed to clarify or obtain further relevant information from the speakers.  No “loaded” or partisan questioning is permitted.

Once the questioning has finished, participants will attempt to summarise the arguments as objectively and fairly as possible.   

These sessions are intended to be interesting and stimulating.   They are also intended to be sessions in which all those attending actively participate.

They are not suitable for those who seek a session where one attends and observes without becoming involved.  Numbers will be limited for each session to ensure that everyone can participate.  Please do not register for this session if you are not committed to attending or engaging fully in it.

Details of the preparation required in advance of this session will be published on the webpage once it is available, no more than one week before the session. When it is available, please ensure that you prepare in good time. 

Students and transferring lawyers need to attend the whole event including the reception in order to claim a Qualifying Session.

Who can Attend

This event is open to all members of the Inn. No guests.

Dietary Requirements

Qualifying Session Details

Click here to see details of the QS Requirements and how to be credited with the QS for this session

Learning Aims:

After this session, students should be able to:

  • Identify  information and arguments from an objective standpoint and summarise them in a balanced and fair way
  • Formulate questions in an inquisitorial way, designed to seek information, rather than score points
  • Recognise the ethical importance of maintaining professional conduct and standards when faced with arguments or clients with whom one may personally disagree
  • Demonstrate the ethos of the profession, namely that all deserve representation regardless of their views.

Links to the Professional Statement, wider workings of the Bar, administration of justice or a public interest matter

The QS will align with these elements of the professional statement:


Click here to view the BSB's Professional Statement

QS Feedback

If you have any feedback on a QS you have attended or have any suggestions for future sessions, please contact the education department on

Bookings and Cancellations

Members of the Inn can buy tickets online by clicking ‘Add to Cart’.  Please note that you must log in to book (if you have not yet created a log-in please register first).  Alternatively you can buy tickets from the Treasury Office by calling 020 7427 4800.

Unless the event sells out earlier, bookings will close at 09:00 two working days before the event.


Where we have a waiting list we will offer your ticket to someone else, so please do cancel your ticket if you are no longer able to attend.

Click here to view our Bookings and Cancellation Policies

Disabled Access and Support

If you have questions about accessibility at the Inn or if you would like to request support, please email Richard Frost.

The Inn is committed to improving access to all its services and encourages members to get in touch with suggestions and feedback on how we can improve. If you feel your experience using the website or attending one of our events could be improved, please email Richard. Your suggestions will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Data Protection & Photography

Please be aware that photography, audio and video recording may take place at our events. These may be used for promotional purposes by the Inn, including in printed publications, on our website, and on our social media accounts. If you do not wish to have your photograph taken or to have images of you used, please alert the EducationTeam at the start of the event. We are unable to guarantee that you will not be included in the background of photographs that are being taken. Contact: 020 7427 4800,

All personal data that the Inn stores and processes is held in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the Inn’s Data Protection Policy. You can ask the Inn to stop using your images at any time, or request to see the personal data that the Inn holds on you. For more information please visit the Data Protection page

Times and details for this event are subject to change. Please check this webpage for the most up to date information.