You are on page 1of 2

BPTC advise

I remember refreshing my knowledge of the basics before I started the BVC. It


helped very little.
The reality is that whilst you obviously need to understand the law and legal
principles on the BPTC, the whole point of the course is that it enables you do a
develop a practical skill set that enables you to practise law, rather than just sitting
in a darkened room answering obscure legal problems. You will be dealing with and
researching the law on the course, but you will have opportunities and time to do
this as and when it arises. It is also unlikely to be on straightforward areas that you
could recite off the cuff anyway; the legal research will very much be integrated into
other areas such as Opinion Writing, and generally speaking the aim will be to set
problems in less obvious areas so that students have to research them and then
write Opinions on them.
To answer your more specific questions, the Civil and Criminal Procedure exams will
require very little, if any, knowledge of the law. There's more than enough
procedure to learn without the course organisers needing to set legal questions in
those exams. Off the top of my head I can't remember a single question in either
exam that required anything beyond a 'common sense' knowledge of the law to
answer it. So don't worry about the law as regards the Procedure subjects.
Advocacy is slightly different. It is worth stating to begin with that there is some
application of the law within the Advocacy modules. This is somewhat common
sense; you cannot cross examine a Defendant if you don't know what the elements
of the offence are that he is charged with, for example. There may also be tasks
that you are set that require you to argue points of law. However, in the main the
Advocacy that you learn is focused on how you practically handle appearances in
Court. There will be notable crossover with the Procedural subjects (for example,
you will learn about Summary Judgment applications in Civil Procedure, and will no
doubt be acting out such an application in Civil Advocacy), but whilst there will also
be some application of the law, it is not to the extent that you need to worry about
it.
For example, my Civil Advocacy exam was a Summary Judgment application relating
to an personal injury claim following an accident at work. You had to write a
Skeleton Argument before hand. Obviously in order to do that hearing you had to
research and have knowledge of the relevant Regulations under which you would
bring a claim, but this was all researched in advance of drafting the Skeleton
Argument. The hearing itself was essentially applying that law to the facts, and
knowing the relevant procedure as to what you needed to show. My Examination In
Chief exam contained no law beyond analysing what the main points to bring out of
the witness were, which was a factual issue rather than a legal one. My Cross

Examination exam related to a witness who had provided identification evidence, so


ten minutes with R v Turnbull gave you what you needed for that.
My Opinion Writing examination (which was actually coursework rather than an
actual exam) was a legal problem that no amount of knowledge before coming on to
the course would have assisted you with. It was an entirely obscure legal issue that
required extensive research on everybody's part. Which, ultimately, was the whole
point.
In short; I wouldn't worry about brushing up on basic legal knowledge before the
course. The focus is predominantly practical, and if you do need to research any
aspect of the law you will be given an opportunity to do this before you need to
use/apply it. The course providers are not going to spring obscure areas of law on
you and expect you to know them instantly because that's not what the course is
testing.