The ICCA had previously undertaken training in Cyprus on 26–30 November 2018 which was the first venture of UK trainers teaching the structured “Hampel” Method of advocacy to Cypriot Lawyers, with a course consisting of two days at Nicosia and then this was repeated at Limassol.
On this occasion a similar course was devised, with the same exercise (“Claimant being physically thrown out of a bar by a Door Supervisor”), however one distinct difference was the addition of a “training the trainers” element, running in parallel, so that hopefully in the future a core group of Cypriot trainers could be formed to be able to teach the skills of advocacy internally (and in Greek) with an ultimate aim for them to be self-sufficient and self-sustaining.
As a result, this time, the Cypriot team chose several “trainee trainers” picked with a view to specifically learning to teach the techniques of the “Hampel” method and to be able, practically, to deploy the method, currently with the assistance of teacher trainers from the UK on hand to guide and step in if necessary.
During this week the team of ICCA trainers consisted of Grahame Aldous QC and Neil Chawla (Co-Course Directors) together with Christopher Melton QC, Faisel Sadiq, Simon Mallett and Jennie Oborne. They initially flew to Paphos Airport to spend two days training the course in Limassol and then the course was again to be repeated with two days training in Nicosia. The duties of the course itself were divided whereby Grahame was to concentrate on teaching the Cypriot Lawyers whereas Neil was to concentrate on teaching the Cypriot Trainee Tutors.
Prior to the start of each course we got together and discussed a “battle-plan” which largely involved going through the timetable for the course to ensure trainers were aware what they would be doing, and when, for the coming two days. Although there was a clear structured timetable having been sorted between the ICCA and the Cypriot team, having had the experience in 2018, we felt it was also important, in addition, to be flexible were any issue to arise. It was hoped (and reinforced prior to the week) that this time not only would the participants be provided with the papers much more in advance in order to be better prepared, but also for them to already know their specific allocated roles during the course as particular advocates and witnesses for the witness handling exercises, especially given we would also be training trainee tutors.
With respect of the actual training for both courses during the first day the Cypriot Lawyers were a little nervous, unsure and, at times, a little uncomfortable however this totally transformed in the second day as we saw them blossom, taking on board their “Hampel” and Video Reviews, to really help them improve their advocacy.
Trying to teach the method for the Cypriot Trainee Tutors alongside was challenging however the gradual improvement in their reviews was also noticeable, as the course progressed, with their reviews becoming more structured, with clearer headlines and concise. Although they will still need further guidance and help, and particularly more practice, it was certainly a very promising start to what will be a long journey.
Therefore, whilst the Cypriot Lawyers (and Trainee Tutors) seem to vary in their standard of Advocacy (teaching), often because of their varied experience and type of practice, what cannot be faulted, in all, was their enthusiasm, thirst for learning and a positive attitude of working hard to improve. The first-class engagement and appreciation of being able to try advocacy techniques, to get feedback and to learn how to improve from highly experienced trainers both from the UK, alongside more senior Cypriot Trainee Tutors, made the courses, whilst hard work, very productive and very enjoyable, particularly to see the improvements in both.
This was further reinforced by the collegiate atmosphere which developed, in both courses, which helped the Lawyers to feel that they were in a safe and comfortable environment enabling them to be able to experiment and learn, without worrying of adverse consequences to their practice, and also the Trainee Tutors felt they were able to participate and could see how their views/comments were making a real difference.
At the end of the courses, both, showed they had gained skills to produce a better level of advocacy and so by encouraging them to be thorough, clear and structured in the presentation of cases and of their handling of witnesses this would result in the raising of standards which can only help benefit to maintain the Rule of Law in Cyprus.
In the evenings of both courses we were very fortunate that the Cypriot Bar laid on dinners at various restaurants which were attended by various members of the Cypriot Bar and trainee tutors. Such dinners were a delight, not only in respect of the varied establishments chosen all with plentiful (sometimes overly so!) food, but also because of the interesting company. The highlight, for this week, was on Wednesday evening where we were treated to dinner at the Pralina Experience in Nicosia, a beautiful restaurant in the heart of the city with high-class food, a lovely ambience and a wonderful evening was had by all.
Overall it was a fantastic and extremely successful experience and, for the UK Trainers, it was very rewarding to see the improvement through the two days of the course, in both the Lawyers and the Trainee Tutors, in both Limassol and then in Nicosia.
It seems the key challenge for the Cypriot Bar will be the need to ensure not only that the Lawyers are able to deploy the skills learnt, but secondly that their Trainee Tutors are able to continue to get more practice in teaching the method and to spread the word to encourage others to become involved.
Finally, it would be remiss if we did not offer our heartfelt thanks to the Cypriot Bar Association, the other members of the Cypriot team including the Ambassadors (members of the Cypriot Lawyers who had attended the 2018 Course), and in particular Koulia, Laris and Salome. All assisted in organising matters from the Cypriot side and, during the week of the courses assisted with the associated administration, and therefore helped to make sure everything ran so smoothly and for that we are extremely thankful and we look forward to working with you all in the future.