IfJ Conference and AGM: Intermediaries and the Law

IfJ training: Seminar and Conferences

Event details


7 Jun 2022


7th June, 9am-5pm
Registration: 8:45am


Zoom Online
United Kingdom

Booking info

Max participants: 150

Course facilitator(s): John Taggart, Professor Lucy Henry, Denise McGillis, Jai Patel and Lynda Gibb

Course facilitator(s) bio: John Taggart is a Lecturer at City University Law School and a PhD student at the LSE. John’s research focuses on the role of the intermediary through a socio-legal lens and the different participatory roles of defendants/witnesses/complainants in the criminal justice system. John has worked as a criminal barrister in both Northern Ireland and England and Wales and has previously taught at Queen’s University, Belfast. He is currently undertaking research for the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland looking at the potential extension of Registered Intermediaries to family courts.

Lucy Henry was awarded a DPhil on the development of working memory in children (Oxford University) and started her academic career lecturing in developmental psychology at Reading University. She subsequently trained as a Clinical Psychologist at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (King’s College London), and her current post is Professor of Speech and Language at City, University of London. Lucy’s research combines her interests in developmental and clinical psychology, as it concerns memory and cognition in children with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. Lucy was the Principal Investigator on an ESRC-funded research project investigating witness skills and the role of Registered Intermediaries for typical children and children on the autism spectrum.

Denise McGillis had been an Area Manager for the Witness Service since 2001 prior to that worked within the Foyer system - supporting young people to live, learn and transition to independent adulthood.

Jai Patel is a barrister in independent practice with over 20 years’ experience prosecuting and defending the full range of criminal cases. Jai’s cases often involve complainants, witnesses and defendants with special communication needs and vulnerabilities. Jai has extensive knowledge of the processes by which trials can be adapted to accommodate such needs and has experience of working with registered intermediaries within this process.

Lynda Gibbs QC (Hon) is a barrister and legal academic. She is the Dean at the Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) where she has spearheaded the national ‘Advocacy and the Vulnerable’ course for the Criminal and Family Bar. She is leading a project to introduce national training for advocates working with children in conflict with the law and has a special interest in adolescent brain development, immaturity and the effects of trauma. Lynda leads the academic team at the ICCA and was the architect for the content of the two-part ICCA Bar Course, combining cutting-edge online learning and a comprehensive face-to-face skills course focussing on advocacy. She has introduced advocacy for vulnerable people and children into Bar training. Lynda was appointed Queen’s Counsel (Honoris Causa) in January 2020 in recognition of her work on vulnerable witnesses and new Bar training.

Course requirements: IfJ Member (any type)

This conference explores the legal framework within which we are operating, the role of the CPS and Defence, the rights-based laws which apply in all areas, and the specific principles and practices which apply in the courts.

Our aim is to promote a better working knowledge and understanding of the whole system within which intermediaries are a cog and play a vital role.

Discussion regarding the Criminal Practice Directions and Rules, and the Equal Treatment Bench Book will be included.

We will also share information about the general legal framework in England and Wales and we will explain some key legal terminology so that you can better understand what is being discussed in court.

Conference aims/objectives:

Participants will:

  1. Gain a refresher overview of the court system, language and concepts, relevant CPR/CPD, ETBB and significant cases.
  2. Understand how we can run experimental studies to explore whether providing Registered Intermediary assistance improves the quality of witness evidence.
  3. Learn about the findings from one such research study carried out with 200 primary aged children

Conference Content 

9am: AGM

9.30am - 10.30am : Workshop 1

‘A walk through the various court systems. Everything you need to know but didn’t want to ask!’ (John Taggart)

A refresher providing an overview of the court system, language and concepts, relevant CPR/CPD, ETBB and cases so intermediaries:

  1. Understand the fundamentals about the law and how it is applied (legislation and common law explained) as well as  rights law which applies to everyone (including the vulnerable with whom we work)
  2. Have the technical language we hear in court explained (Indictment, burden of proof etc) and be given information about who we will encounter in each court
  3. Learn about the role of the CPS and Defence, who they are and what they do

Understand the current climate in the criminal and family courts which may affect the court’s approach to our appointment.

10.45am - 11.45 am: Workshop 2

‘Registered Intermediaries and typically-developing primary school-age children: A research project looking at interviews, identification line-ups and cross-examinations’ (Professor Lucy Henry)

This workshop will consider a large research project involving a ‘mock witness study’ with 200 typically-developing primary school-age children.  The children witnessed a short event (usually ‘live’ during their school assembly time) about school in the Victorian times.  During this event, a minor crime occurred.  Approximately a week later, children took part in ABE investigative interviews and identification line-ups.  Approximately a year later, children took part in cross-examinations.  Throughout the project, a number of these children were assisted by a Registered Intermediary.  The workshop will consider how this study was run and report the findings, which were very positive about the role of Registered Intermediaries in improving the quality and quantity of children’s evidence.

11.45am - 12pm: Break

12pm - 1pm: Workshop 3

'Quiet please, Court in session.' (Denise McGillis, Area Manager for the Witness Service)

Who are the Witness Service? The support we provide and how we can work in partnership.

1pm - 1.15pm: AGM continued: Election of trustees

1.15pm - 2pm: Lunch

2pm - 3pm: Workshop 4

'Advancing Equal Access to Justice: How Intermediaries and Advocates can work together successfully' (Jai Patel, Barrister)

This workshop will provide an advocate's perspective about working with intermediaries for vulnerable people and the critical role they have in the trial process. Practical tips and advice will be provided about what advocates find helpful and what intermediaries should expect from the advocate.

3pm - 3.15 pm: Break

3.15pm - 4.15pm: Workshop 5

National ‘Advocacy and the Vulnerable’ Training for Advocates  (Lynda Gibbs QC (Hon))

  • The ICCA’s role in training advocates adapt their questioning of vulnerable people and children.
  • The updated 20 Principles of Questioning – 3rd version February 2022.
  • Working collaboratively and effectively at the GRH to smooth the path for trial.

4.15pm - 4.30pm: Close and Q&A