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NI judges watching Prima Facie

Updated: Jul 7

I am delighted to hear that this amazing play is being used to train judges in Northern Ireland.  After seeing this powerful performance myself, I included in my list of workshop suggestions to provide therapists, particularly those working with clients pre-trial, with a better understanding of what might happen in court for their client particular the possibly grueling or demeaning cross examination by defence barristers that this play highlights. 

You can read the full Eve Rosato, BBC News NI article, published 8 May 2024 here:

Jodie Comer (Tessa) portrays a high flying successful defence barrister trying sexual offence cases who loves to win those cases.  She has worked her way up from working class origins to be at the top of her game - defending, cross examining and lighting up the shadows of doubt in any case.  An unexpected event forces her to confront the lines where the patriarchal power of the law, burden of proof and morals diverge - she ends up on the receiving end of a defence barrister just like her when the tables are turned as she becomes the victim of sexual assault herself going through the criminal justice system.

If you have not seen the play, you can get a feel of it here: 

  • Also here is c.1 hour of the play with some blocked content due to copyright - this carries a trigger warning as when watching the play Kelsea is clearly upset and at the end discloses her own of experiences of sexual assault in the USA, her reasons not reporting at the time and the impact on her:  Watching PRIMA FACIE (starring JODIE COMER) for the first time! [ REACTION / REVIEW ]

The new PTT guidance for England & Wales (2022) allows therapists to help ‘prepare’ their PTT clients for appearing in court as victims of crime, so they understand the process and are better able to cope with the psychological and emotional challenges it is likely to present. 

Such preparation for court is very much the remit of ISVA’s and IDVA’s (Independent Sexual/Domestic Violence Advisers) but not all sexual or domestic abuse victims manage to access such support, and there is no specialist support for victims of other crimes – so, they are limited to Victim Support (or similar as providers vary by area) and/or the Citizens Advice Bureau’s National Witness Service.  The latter, the Witness Service, can arrange a pre-court visit to help familiarize those due to appear in court as victims/witnesses with the court environment, explain who’s who and what happens during a criminal trial.  Somone with special needs may also be entitled to additional support from an intermediary or advocacy.  Please refer to the PTT Resources website page.

It can be very helpful to clients for their therapists to be familiar with what happens in court to help their client’s understanding, give them the opportunity to talk through their concerns and build their confidence to appear, in the absence of an ISVA/IDVA or in addition to them. 

I hope the play will now be used in England, Wales and Scotland too; not only for judges, but also to better train future defence barristers, as well as re-train those already qualified and experienced as part of their on-going post-qualification CPD - otherwise, how can any real change be achieved across the criminal justice system?   

I urge all therapists, particularly those working Pre-Trial, to watch the play also as it will help build our knowledge and confidence when providing pre-court preparation and support to our clients if/when required.  

A valuable addition to our on-going CPD as therapists!

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