THEY look set to be the legal profession's next generation of talent.

Senior pupils from Prestwick Academy have earned praise after coming out top in a mock court competition three years in a row.

The school is clearly a hot house for enquiring minds as teams have fought off competition from across Scotland - and the world - to repeatedly take the prize.

Pitting teams of pupils against one another, the School Mock Court Case Project gives young people a taste of how the justice system works.

They are divided into teams of Defenders and Pursuers and compete to win their case.

Teachers Johnpaul McCabe and Emma McDonagh support their pupils to take part - and have made sure they are unbeatable.

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Head teacher Gordon Bone said: "I am delighted for our pupils to win this award once again – ably supported by their teachers Mr McCabe and Mrs McDonagh.

"The commitment and determination of the team to achieve is a joy to watch."

Set up in 2013 for S4 to S6 pupils, the mock court competition normally pits schools across Scotland against one another.

They would ordinarily set up in courts such as Ayr Sherriff Court, The Glasgow High Court, the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

But this year the pandemic meant the system moved online - and opened up to a global audience.

Prestwick Academy was pitted against teams from Bulgaria, Germany, America, South Africa, England and El Salvador all competing by video link.

Zarah Barlas was taking part for the first time.

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The S4 pupils said: "I enjoyed meeting new people in different year groups and becoming friends.

"I would do it again, to relearn the story and, do it even better, as well as meeting anyone new who joins."

Over seven weeks the students worked to overcome technical issues to engage virtually with solicitors based around the country who would advise them as they prepared for court.

Pupils read legal and medical documents before creating a legal document stating exactly what they were claiming for or denying responsibility for.

Pupils took on the roles of solicitors and witnesses, often becoming experts in legal and medical jargon.

In the trials, Prestwick's teams competed in front of judges from Scotland, Poland and Bulgaria.

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Their mock case saw them act for an American couple who had travelled into Scotland while on holiday.

In a complex legal scenario, the driver was over the drink drive limit and died in a crash involving a tipper truck.

In the explosion following the crash, the husband, who was in the passenger seat, lost his leg.

In the mock scenario, he then sued the defending tipper truck driver who had pulled out illegally into the way of the couple.

Emma Toner, an S6 pupil, added: "Competing in the Mock Court trials has given me an insight into life in the courtroom and what it means to defend those who are in need.

"This has pushed to pursue my best at university and beyond."

Prestwick Academy first entered the competition in 2017 and has been in the final every year, winning for the past three years.

Gerald Murphy, chairman of the Board of Trustees for the School Mock Court Case Project, said: "I am extremely impressed by Prestwick Academy winning the Seniors Mock Court three times in a row, something no other school has achieved in the history of the programme.

"This year was more impressive than before, noting the students not only had to attend the tutorials but also the trials virtually and compete against schools from across Scotland as well as from Germany, South Africa, Bulgaria and El Salvador.

"Prestwick must also be congratulated for the students who successfully make it into the international competitions to compete for Scotland.

"Last year a number of Prestwick students took part in the International Moot Court Competition in Poland where Scotland came third.

"Congratulations to the teaching staff, headed up by John-Paul and Emma, who have done a brilliant job."