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Opening Speeches

The opening speech is an early opportunity to describe the case on advocate’s own terms—i.e. without interruption—to the judges. In an opening statement, the advocate lays out what the evidence in the case is. The advocate paints a mental image of what happened, where, how, why, to whom. The advocate does not make submissions or arguments, nor do they interpret the evidence. That is left for the closing arguments. This is because the evidence at the stage of the opening statement has not yet been admitted. It is still in the form of witness statements and un-admitted documents and photographs. The advocate must take a conservative approach, because they do not know what is going to happen at the trial.


The highly visible nature of international work will mean that the opening statements are likely closely followed in the affected country, and by international media. Due to advances in technology, a live feed of the opening statement may be able to be viewed by thousands on the Internet. Not only must the advocate think of the judges and the Defence, they must consider the effect their words have on the public.

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