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Diploma in Criminal Law & Practice

Start Date
Friday 20 October 2023 at 10:00 AM
Continuous assessment through online activities (15%), advocacy skills assessment (25%), written assignment (60%)
Delivery Method
Live monthly block release lectures and workshop sessions over five weekends (Friday and Saturday). Available to view on demand.
CPD Hours
The number of hours of CPD that you may claim in relation to this course will depend on the way in which you access each of the individual sessions.  For further information and the booklet, see CPD scheme.
Course Leader
Patricia Harvey, Barrister, Course Leader: P.Harvey@LawSociety.ie
This item is not available to book online

Application information

We are no longer accepting applications for this course. If you are interested in applying for a future offering of the course please register for our Interested List

Solicitors and Trainees

To pay online click on the 'Book Now' button. For all other methods of payment including, draft, cheque and EFT please see our methods of payment .

Other Professionals

We welcome applications for this course from suitably qualified professionals. Your application must be approved before you can formally register on the course. To apply please email the following documents to diplomateam@lawsociety.ie :

  1. A completed application form (see below)
  2. Your Curriculum Vitae
  3. A short cover letter setting out your relevant experience

Please note, for non-members this course is subject to a supplemental fee of €335 bringing the total course fee to €2,995. No fees are required prior to approval.


Further information on this course including course structure, module scheme, faculty and workshop dates are set out below. Clicking on the links will bring you directly to that section or simply scroll through to read all the content. 

Programme objectives

On successful completion of this training programme, participants will be able to:

  • Advocate on behalf of clients in court;
  • Advise clients effectively in Garda custody;
  • Demonstrate the ethical awareness required of practitioners when dealing with victims of crime and vulnerable witnesses;
  • Summarise and outline the practical implications of evidential and procedural rules;
  • Recognise a potential judicial review and manage a judicial review application;
  • Analyse the essential proofs in road traffic offences;
  • Appraise the role of the children’s court in the juvenile justice system;
  • Critically analyse the principles of sentencing law and practice;
  • Understand the criminal justice process in regulatory crime; and
  • Analyse the role of An Garda Síochána in the Criminal Justice System.

Programme structure and approach to learning 

This diploma offers students in-depth exposure to and practical insight into key practice areas of criminal law in Ireland from both the prosecution and defence perspectives. A core component of the course is the goal of developing the advocacy skills of those attending, through interactive workshop sessions that mirror situations faced in the criminal justice process. The ethical and professional considerations of advising an arrested person in custody, dealing with vulnerable witnesses, and victims’ rights in a criminal trial process will be considered in detail. 

The course also includes an in-depth look at sentencing law and practice. We discuss the role of the prosecution and certain State agencies in the criminal justice system, and other areas of practice will be reviewed, with a practical focus on evidential and procedural updates and coverage of emerging areas of practice such as white-collar crime and the increased impact of EU law on criminal practice. 


The programme is based on the following module scheme and covers key themes as listed below:

Module 1: Arrest and detention 

  • Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act 2014,
  • Advising clients in Garda custody.

Module 2: Evidence and criminal law updates

  • Rules of evidence,
  • Beyond JC – the impact of the new exclusionary rule,
  • Recent legislative and procedural updates,
  • The European Arrest Warrant,
  • Criminal evidence and the European Convention on Human Rights,
  • Data protection and criminal trials,
  • Dwyer v Commissioner of An Garda Síochána (2018),
  • The role and function of the Children’s Court,
  • Sentencing – recent developments and emerging trends.

Module 3: The District Court and advocacy skills

  • Initial applications in the District Court,
  • District Court advocacy skills,
  • Running a District Court case – the role of the practitioner,
  • Bail applications,
  • Aspects of higher courts criminal advocacy,
  • Legal aid.

Module 4: Dealing with victims and vulnerable witnesses

  • Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017,
  • Prosecutorial challenges – vulnerable victims and witnesses,
  • Sexual offences – Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017,
  • Domestic Violence Act 2018.

Module 5: Judicial review

  • Practice and procedure in judicial review applications,
  • Identifying a judicial review,
  • Advocacy skills.

Module 6: The Role of An Garda Síochána in the Criminal Justice System

  • Functions and Powers of the Gardaí, 
  • Duty to seek out & preserve evidence,
  • Initiating Proceedings,
  • Rules of Disclosure,
  • Understanding the Bail process and Bail applications, 
  • Liaising with An Garda Síochána during the Courts process.

Module 7: Road traffic offences

  • Basic proofs in a drink-driving case,
  • Recent case law developments,
  • Advocacy skills: running a District Court case and Circuit Court appeal. 

Module 8: Sentencing Law and Practice

  • General principles,
  • Mitigating factors and aggravating factors,
  • Relevant legislation and case law,
  • Sentencing - custodial, suspended sentence, fines, community service, probation and poor box, binding over, compensation orders,
  • Sentencing hearing.

Module 9: Regulatory crime

  • Regulatory crime – practice and procedure,
  • Criminal offences and the Companies Act 2014,
  • The role of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.


Workshops are a key feature of this course. These are designed to be interactive and involve working in groups on selected case-study problems and analysis, with an emphasis on the application of the law to common scenarios encountered in practice. 

1Skills Session and Workshop 1
18 Nov 2023

10am - 3pm

2 Panel Discussion and workshop 22 Dec 202310am - 3pm
3Workshop 313 Jan 202410am - 2.30pm
4Assignment Skills Session10 Feb 202410am

Saturday sessions will focus on interactive teaching methods – utilising role plays, panel discussions, mock court, case studies, and problem-based scenarios – with the aim of developing the practice skills of students. 


Continuous assessment through online activities (15%), advocacy skills assessment (25%), written assignment (60%).

Who should attend?

This course is suitable for the following:

  • Solicitors, trainees, and barristers,
  • Members of An Garda Síochána and employees of statutory agencies and offices that have a criminal justice function,
  • Other suitably qualified professionals.

We welcome applications for this course from suitably qualified non-members Please explain your interest and set out any relevant experience in a cover letter and a brief CV. Such applications are subject to a supplemental fee of €335.


The teaching faculty for this diploma comprises experts in criminal law and practitioners with both prosecution and defence expertise, together with academic experts. 

Previous lecturers have included: 

  • Noeline Blackwell, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre,
  • Shalom Binchy, Shalom Binchy & Co. Solicitors,
  • Dr. Yvonne Daly, School of Law and Government, DCU,
  • Damien Coffey, Sheehan & Partners,
  • Evan O’ Dwyer, O’Dwyer Solicitors,
  • Tony McGillicuddy BL,
  • John D Fitzgerald SC,
  • Rory Staines, Michael Staines & Co. Solicitors,
  • Katherine McGillicuddy BL,
  • Kenneth Ruane, An Garda Síochána,
  • Caroline Counihan, Rape Crisis Network Ireland,
  • Michael Delaney SC,
  • Damien Coffey, Sheehan & Partners,
  • Gareth Noble, KOD Lyons Solicitors,
  • Brian Coveney, Sheehan & Partners,
  • Elayne Fitzmaurice, Director of Public Prosecutions,
  • Andrew McKeown BL,
  • Ciarán Doherty BL,
  • Claire Cummins BL,
  • Lily Casey BL,
  • Inspector Michael O Keefe, An Garda Siochana.


We have designed our courses to enable you to satisfy as much of your CPD requirement as possible. Time spent attending lectures and workshops in person or completing these via e-learning as part of your course can be claimed towards your annual CPD requirement. The number of hours of CPD that you may claim in relation to your diploma/certificate course will depend on the way in which you access each of the individual sessions. For further information, visit the CPD scheme  and download the CPD booklet. 

The Diploma Centre team will host our annual CPD conference in November 2023. This complimentary event is a dedicated management and professional development skills and regulatory matters session. We will post an invitation on your Diploma Hub page later in the year. 


Patricia Harvey, Barrister, Course Leader: P.Harvey@LawSociety.ie .

*Every effort has been made to ensure the information contained in these pages is accurate and up to date. However timetables and course content are subject to change and date and time changes may occur due to factors beyond our control.

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This item is not available to book online