Jury age limit to be raised to 75 in England and Wales

 
Scales of justice statue In 2010, the Council of Circuit Judges said using over-70s on juries could see "substantial disruption"

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The upper age limit for jurors in England and Wales is to be raised from 70 to 75, the government has announced.

The move is part of Ministry of Justice plans to make the system more inclusive and to reflect modern society.

Currently only people aged 18 to 70 are eligible to sit as jurors.

Those aged 70 to 75 who are summoned as jurors would be expected to serve, though there is discretion to excuse people if they can show a good reason why they should not.

Some 178,000 people in England and Wales take part in jury service each year, but the government believes the current age limit does not take account of increases in life expectancy over the past 25 years.

Criminal Justice Minister Damian Green said the right to be tried by peers "is, and remains, a cornerstone of the British justice system laid down in the Magna Carta almost 800 years ago".

Start Quote

This is a common sense reform and should be applauded”

End Quote Paul Green, Saga

"This is about harnessing the knowledge and life experiences of a group of people who can offer significant benefits to the court process," he added.

Groups representing the elderly have welcomed the move.

Paul Green, director of Saga, which specialises in products and services for the over-50s, said: "Older people have a great deal of life experience and many remain astute, savvy and mentally agile well into later life and will be a valued addition to any jury.

"This is a common sense reform and should be applauded."

In Scotland, a ban on over-65s serving as jurors was lifted in 2011.

Those aged 71 and over who do not want - or feel able - to serve on a jury have the right to be excused.

The upper age limit in Northern Ireland remains at 70, while those aged 65-69 can choose not to serve.

But, following a public consultation, plans are afoot to abolish the upper age limit and increase the age at which people can choose not to serve to 70.

'Days lost'

The age range for jurors in England and Wales was last amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which raised the upper limit from 65 to 70.

However, between 1988 and 2004, those in the 65-70 age group who were called could be automatically excused.

From 2004, those in that age range could only be excused if they provided a good reason.

Jurors in England and Wales

  • Aged between 18 and 70
  • Listed on electoral register
  • Have lived in UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for any five-year period since aged 13

Under the change announced on Tuesday, those aged between 70 and 75 who are summoned will be treated like all other jurors - they will be expected to serve.

But they could be excused for reasons such as a medical condition which prevents them serving, or significant caring responsibilities.

The change to the age limit will require primary legislation which will be brought forward early next year.

Some experts, including University College London Jury Project director Prof Cheryl Thomas, believe the announcement is long overdue.

Start Quote

Proceedings might be hampered by poor hearing, poor vision or physical disability”

End Quote Council of Circuit Judges in 2010

"Virtually every other common law jurisdiction that has a jury system currently has no upper age limit at all for jury service," she said.

"This new policy change will bring England and Wales up to speed with the rest of the common law systems."

In 2010, the Council of Circuit Judges warned that allowing people aged over 70 to serve on juries could lead to "substantial disruption" to criminal trials.

"There would, inevitably, be an increase in 'days lost' as a result of illness or incapacity," it said.

"Proceedings might be hampered by poor hearing, poor vision or physical disability."

The retirement age for judges was reduced from 75 to 70 some 20 years ago.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 414.

    412.frankslad -" ....how can HYS not have a post regarding the Miranda detention - possibly the most important civil rights issue so far seen this decade - with implications for all of us. Is the BBC frightened of the govt??"

    I don't know but I assume it is because there are legal proceedings pending

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 413.

    For those who are concerned that the diminished mental powers of the elderly would damage the jury system, it would seem that being a politician is far more destructive to intellectual capacity than old age could ever be...

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 412.

    Plus - I've never done this before - using another HYS to raise a separate issue - but how can HYS not have a post regarding the Miranda detention - possibly the most important civil rights issue so far seen this decade - with implications for all of us. Is the BBC frightened of the govt??

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 411.

    Some people are not fit to be jurors at 25. Some are fit to be jurors at 85. The problem is identifying which are which!

    Without skewing juries one way or the other - I personally have no answer as to how you i.d. which people are suitable or not, BUT I'm certain that using age as a criteria is not the answer.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 410.

    Why is it that anyone over the age of 70 is assumed to be incapable of rational thought, and lacking any quality that would be of value in a jury?

    After all, what use in a jury is the experience and insight gained from a long life?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 409.

    386.Mike Herman

    "I would rather see people who understand: the law, evidence, psychology, forensics ect sit on juries"

    ===

    Ah. You mean a panel of judges, not a jury. The French do that quite a lot.

    It would probably be better, though more expensive.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 408.

    407.Tio Terry
    405.sorrysorryandsorry

    13+5=18, the starting age for jury service.

    I know, my point was: if you wish to be a qualified juror, you might have to prepare yourself at 13, this is awful....

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 407.

    405.sorrysorryandsorry

    13+5=18, the starting age for jury service.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 406.

    Bad news for the criminal fraternity, the 70 plus, Daily mail, hang em flog em brigade is going to have a field day! haha...nice one

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 405.

    Jurors in England and Wales

    Aged between 18 and 70

    ---OK

    Listed on electoral register

    ---Fine

    Have lived in UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for any five-year period since aged 13

    --- 13 ? !

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 404.

    I think the Jury system should be abolished. You can see how many people make up their mind somebody is guilty before trial - police vehicles in which somebody is taken to Court for trial (esp. child murder) is stoned or surrounded by jeering crowds. What if such minded people are on a jury!!
    In this time, scientific procedures, DNA tests etc are much more reliable. Use expert panels.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 403.

    You can guarantee that if I ever end up a defendant, I will kick up a fuss if they put some senile old coot on my jury.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 402.

    I think this is a terrible idea. If an OAP is called up during winter he or she might be required to travel when snow and ice is present on the pavement. They will not have the option to stay in until weather improves. A fall in old age can lead to potentially fatal conditions. Maybe a ploy to get rid of some old people!!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 401.

    Once you are past 70 you should be enjoying life, playing golf. touring, catching up on all the things you have put off for a rainy day. You are not too old for jury service but why should you do it? You have contributed to society all your working life, now is the time to relax, appreciate the sunshine and have a G & T!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 400.

    75 is too old !

    BUT.... why are we allowed by BBC to have a Blog open to public comment about a stupid and inane and trivial subject such as this,when there are major issues being reported on: Snowden, NHS, Tax, Economy, Immigrants ruining our country, etc etc etc. And, as always, we are allowed to have a Yueh Blog about pseudo-economic China-watching.
    WE NEED BLOGS ON BIG ISSUES OF THE DAY !

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 399.

    Stupid idea: another way for the Rich-Boys Eton Govt to make sure thr surviving workers are made to work !
    It's bad enough that the current age level is 70----that's uncomfortable for many folk of that age, many of whom have poorer eyesight, hearing loss,need to go toilet more often,concentration levels diminished.This is not ageism--it's basic biology. To make the age 75 is just MUCH worse !

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 398.

    With retirement at 65 no longer compulsory it would be difficult to say that someone fit to work is not fit for Jury service. However, screening for hearing, eyesight etc, while not foolproof, would seem to be sensible. You can't decide guilt on what you thought the witness said.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 397.

    In my opinion, people should only have to volunteer to be considered for jury service when they are over 65 - it should not be compulsory. My concern is that some older people will take part out of a sense of public duty when they are not fit for it. Although life expectancy has increased, health in old age has not.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 396.

    339.Peter Buck Unfortunately those who ignore experience and history tend to repeat the mistakes of the past.
    A mixture of youthful exuberance and mature wisdom is the best recipe, too much of either one like salt or pepper ruins the dish.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 395.

    I have an elderly relative, who to put it kindly, has lost facilities of clear thought/recall.
    Because they refuse to admit to the doctor they have serious problems, the doctor is unable to do anything at all about the condition.
    Forgetfulness tends to get worse with age.
    What are going to be the safeguards in place to ensure the jurors are all of "Sound Mind"? Will my relative not be eligible?

 

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