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Questioning Vulnerable People - Part 2

Questioning Vulnerable People - Part 2
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Participants in sexual and family violence cases are often especially vulnerable, and some court practices are changing to take account of their needs.

This FREE full-day forum for Defence Lawyers follows on from the June 2020 session and takes discussion and learning to the next level.

From the Chair

The June “Questioning Vulnerable People” forum introduced to many practitioners the modern-day challenges to our traditional approach to advocacy. The focus now shifts to implementation of better questioning techniques. This forum will not only encourage counsel to reflect on your own questioning but will arm you with the skills to make effective change. Again we are privileged to have a panel of leading experts to guide practitioners in the quest to ensure more effective communication with and for all court participants. Judge Dawson will give us his ‘view from the bench’ and let us know how sexual violence courts are running already in Auckland and will be run throughout the country in future. I look forward to seeing you as part of the audience whether in-person or via live stream.


Participants in criminal trials are often vulnerable. This may be due to a range of personal and physical characteristics, as well as the events they are at court to give evidence about. The court experience itself is often very daunting. In sexual violence cases these factors are known to affect complainants and witnesses particularly strongly, and this may affect the quality of their evidence.

An advocate who can communicate effectively can advocate effectively, and whether or not you attended the Questioning Vulnerable People forum in June, this second free forum will strengthen and confirm your understanding of the background and reasons for the ‘new era of advocacy we are moving into’, as it was described by Chair Jonathan Eaton QC.

The programme will include a presentation by Judge Nevin Dawson who has been closely involved in the pilot and setting up of the sexual violence courts, and further discussion of the background reasoning for the changes; while still encouraging informed debate on defendants’ fair trial rights balanced against the sensitive needs of vulnerable complainants and witnesses.

Most importantly, the forum will provide further training and useful practical resources to help you critically analyse your own practice and become more confident in structuring suitable and appropriate questions.

Learning objectives

By attending this forum you will gain:

  • Confidence that your own practice accords with the requirements of the Evidence Act and is acceptable in a court environment that increasingly caters for the needs of vulnerable people.
  • Practice in developing better questions.
  • Deeper understanding of the reasons complainants and other witnesses in sexual violence cases may be vulnerable.


This forum will include a mixture of presentations, discussion and comment from all presenters. You will be able to send questions in advance and during the forum.


There is a large amount of excellent research, practical websites and other relevant reading available online. We have collated the best available information, a range of online reading, resources and websites. Key readings are highlighted, and we recommend you spend at least two hours preparing for the forum.  View the resources here


  • Chair: Jonathan Eaton QC, Bridgeside Chambers, Christchurch
  • His Honour Judge Nevin Dawson, District Court, Auckland
  • Dr Emily Henderson, Henderson Reeves, Whangarei
  • Sally Kedge, Talking Trouble Aotearoa NZ, Auckland
  • Dr Clare McCann, University of Auckland, Auckland
  • Professor Elisabeth McDonald MNZM, University of Canterbury, Christchurch
  • Anne Stevens QC, Barrister, Dunedin


  • The forum is on Thursday 26 November at the Ellerslie Event Centre or online. It will run from 8.45am - 4.30pm and there will be breaks for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.
  • Live web stream registrations close 3pm Wednesday 25 November.

Who should attend

All criminal practitioners involved in sexual violence cases (and those who might be in future), including those who attended or did not attend the June forum.

Fee (incl GST)

Live Web Stream

  • This programme is offered free of charge - but you must still register.
  • Registrations close 3pm Wednesday 25 November.

Download PDF Brochure & registration form here.

Sponsored by 

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Auckland 26 November
Live Web Stream 26 November

Cancellation policy

NZLS CLE Ltd reserves the right to cancel or reschedule this programme if necessary.

Registrant Details

Use this window to add all the registrants you wish to register on behalf of. If you want to attend the course also, ensure you add yourself as one of the registrants. Make sure you press ‘save’ after adding each new registrant.

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