Trial by Jury withing the English Legal System

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Trial by Jury withing the English Legal System

In our English Legal system, the jury has been a long part of

establishment for centuries. It consists of 12 lay people, who

represent a cross section of the public. They listen to both sides of

a case and decide a verdict, based on the facts presented to them.

Some people think that trial by jury is fairer than a judge because

the jury is independent and therefore could not be influenced by the


In the Crown Court criminal cases, twelve jurors are used for

indictable offences. The Queens Bench Division of High Court deals

with civil cases and also contains twelve jurors. These are cases

involving libel and slander, fraud, malicious prosecution and false

imprisonment. In civil cases at a County Court, eight jurors are

present although this is rare. Seven to eleven jurors are present at

suspicious death cases at the Coroners Court. The most important is

the Crown Court where juries decide whether the defendant is guilty or

not guilty.

In the Juries Act 1974, jurors have to be selected at random from the

electoral register. The Juries Act 1974 section 1, states to qualify

for jury service a person must be aged between 18 and 70 (Criminal

Justice Act 1988, section 119), registered as a parliamentary or local

government elector, and they should be an ordinary resident in the UK,

Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for at least 5 years since their

thirteenth birthday.

The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, 1994, section forty, states

that anyone who has had five years imprisonment or more is

disqualified from jury service for life. Any person with a custodial


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...together hears cases. This allows for a balance of views, instead

of a verdict by a single person. There are not enough judges in our

English system to implement this and it would be expensive.

I think that trial by jury in the English Legal system is very

effective, however suggestions for improvement could be a system that

operates in Scotland. They have a ‘judicial examination ‘, which

covers continuous judicial control of pre-trial preparation compared

with the English system, which emphasizes the trial as the critical

period of determining guilt or innocence.

The Runciman commission suggested that the Contempt of Court Act 1981

should be amended to allow research into the working of juries. On the

other hand people may be less willing to serve on juries if they knew

that their discussions could be made public.
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