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

    Comment number 34.

    26: Do you in fact believe in the presumption of innocence and a fair trail on the evidence with a right to legal representation?

    If you are ever accused of anything is thatr what you will want and expect?

    Just wondering.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Take with the increase of the age limit, now the courts will adapt facilities?

    Shorter periods in adjournments? as in toilet breaks? hard of hearing systems for the older jurors with hearing problems

    But a good idea, especially in winter months, sitting in a warm court, saving on fuel bills that the government pay extra fuel allow to.

    Yes a bit sarcastic, but think i am right

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Going to get people who maybe do not have a full grasp with what's going on...generally....never mind focussing on an intense trial!
    Always a potential of them 'popping their clogs' before the trial is finished
    What then? NO GAIN in my view but who listens to the public?

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Because what a jury needs is people who can't control their bladder, can't remember what they had for breakfast and can't see a defendant if they were standing face to face. Justice really needs doddery old people to hold up the proceedings. Silly idea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Folks coming to the end of their natural years are least likely to make a objective and sound judgement one way or another?

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Jurors should reflect a cross section of society, end of.

    People are having to work until 75+.

    It is perverted/twisted/vile & nonsensical to insinuate that all or most at 70/75 are incapable.

    In so much in society, police, or Liebour party, damage has been caused by the removal of older more experienced people, which leaves gaps for mistakes resulting from inexperience

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    I agree with Jury service but I am not going to pretend that it is anything but a tedious and boring chore, having done it once I don`t want to do it again. Raising the upper age threshold has nothing to do with being inclusive, it is because we have a large section of society becoming eligible to undertake jury service who will flatly refuse to do it

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Nice to know your liberty could rest on the whim of some senile right wing retired major type.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Age should not come into it, just the ability not to be fooled by corrupt defense lawyers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Sucks how we are punished with dury duty because of people who do bad things.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    fine as long as they go through a rigorous test to show that they can concentrate for long periods and are in control of their mental faculties. People age at differing rates. Some 75yo would not be up to the job (as can be seen by some daft judge decisions)

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    We older jurors are less likely to lead to retrials because we understand the rules and will not be texting, tweeting, facebooking etc. about the trial while serving on the jury.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    If you are old enough to get a free TV licence you should be OK on a jury.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    I have been on jury service 3 times and the whole process is fundamentally flawed and I am fairly sure this does nothing to improve it in any way

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    A great Idea..
    I have friends who have never done Jury service and I think this is a scandal at best
    We must learn to help and this should not be a choice but a mandatory for anyone

    Like countries where National service is why don’t we insist people MUST do it at certain ages
    For instances 20, 40, 60?
    Anyone not supporting this does not love their Country!

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    It seems to me that raising the Jury age limit to 75 is a positive move, but lowering the voting age to 16 is madness - 'senior citizens' have great experience of life and the world whereas the vast majority of younger teenagers have next to none.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.


    I don't care about a jurors age, but a minimum IQ level is a must!


  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Let's hope the older generation have a say in the current sentences that criminals receive.

    The current punishments must seem like a holiday camp compared to what the sentences were 40 -50 years ago

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Makes sense.

    Let's have some more common sense decisions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Trying to get more convictions?the older I get the less tolerant of others I become im more likely to find someone guilty now than 20 years ago


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