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 354.

    What do you think of the name "White_And_Proud"?
    Who, or what groups, do you think would normally adopt such a name?

  • rate this

    Comment number 353.

    The need comes about because once you have committed a crime you are or used to be excluded. Lots of older people are free and cost the system less.

  • rate this

    Comment number 352.

    @331 Peter Sym

    A fair point, but that’s not really the point at issue, is it? Will he still be as capable at 75? Possibly, but it is likely he will not.

    A line is drawn. If 75 year olds are capable, why not make it 76? Or 85?

    Either there is a point at which people should be automatically ineligible due to age, or there is not.

    We're just arguing about detail, really.

  • rate this

    Comment number 351.

    Oh goody let's possibly inject a bit of potential senility into the justice proceedings ( that is actually a fact of life!) so the jurors can't remember the evidence from an hour ago!..Brilliant!

  • rate this

    Comment number 350.

    When I did jury service thre were people there I wouldn't trust to make a decision on whether to take the bin out or not. Age was not a concern.

  • rate this

    Comment number 349.

    I think all juries young or old should have to pass basic hearing, blater control, mental acuity test to be on jury. It not only the old who have these issues there plenty of people under fifty who have them too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 348.

    We are NOT ALL living longer, some of us are and some of us are not as was evident by the death of the ex Scottish Tory leader Mcletchie at 61 last week. We cant help the naked lies of the 'British media' but perhaps putting the age up to 75 for jurors is going too far and should be around 68 in my opinion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 347.

    Once again the BBC gives us the opportunity to comment on soft stories that are deemed acceptable. Who cares what age the Jury is as long as they take it seriously.

  • rate this

    Comment number 346.

    Tip for getting out of jury service. My late mother argued (in all honesty) that she was morally incapable of sending anyone to prison. It worked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 345.

    Well 75 is about the age us Public Sector Plebs., are going to have to work to if we are to maintain the Public Sector in the retire at 60 with Pension to die for status!

  • rate this

    Comment number 344.

    343. cainsworld
    Outrageous. Why should the state have a right to force individuals into doing something they do not want to do or may have little interest in?
    I hate to be tried by the sort of maniac who WANTED to be on jury service. If it was volunteers only it would be a very small, very 'peculiar' mix of people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 343.

    Outrageous. Why should the state have a right to force individuals into doing something they do not want to do or may have little interest in? .

    I was called once back in 1994 and managed through work commitments to gain a release after two days. There should be a right to decline especially if you have done it before.

  • rate this

    Comment number 342.

    304 - Total Mass Retain: The defence right to object was abolished more than twenty years ago. The pros. only use theirs if there are criminal convictions. Neither side can question the potential jurors so the right to object to anyone who is prejudiced is meaningless. It's the first twelve out of the hat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 341.

    How ageist are these comments?? A great number of older people are brighter and more aware than those half their age and certainly more reliable and capable of decision making. All the talk of toilets and aids for the deaf are insulting and as discriminatory as any made regarding race or religion. Shame on the British for their attitude to older folk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 340.

    Jurors of 70 or over are able to contribute sensibly to a crown court hearing. A cross section of society is essential to our jury system, and that means the elderly as well as the younger members. Also barryp, it is essential that a jury or magistrates bench do not have any personal knowledge of an individual before them. As a retired magistrate having also sat at crown court it is so important.

  • rate this

    Comment number 339.

    A stupid, stupid idea.
    All civic and public services should have a maximum age limit of 70, that is including judges/MPs/council dignitaries/senior policemen/ indeed anybody that has responsibility for others lives and careers. That way fresh new ideas with broad outlooks can enhance our society.
    The future needs fresh blood and not outmoded thinking. Let the new generation take the strain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 338.

    @323 Black_And_Proud

    A refection of modern Britain. You`re having a laugh mate.There is little, if anything, remaining to be proud of in your modern Britain, mainly thanks to modern, progressive thinking.

    Did I say thinking there, that would be the thinking demonstrated by the participants of Geordie Shore that so ably reflect the self respect and restraint of modern Britain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 337.

    You've hit on it.
    The youth seem to be quick to criticise the old for their slowness of wit but even quicker to ask them for a sub.

  • rate this

    Comment number 336.

    309. Alaric the Visigoth

    "Really? On what evidence do you make that judgement?"

    Well I've done Jury service once.

    I've also googled Jury Service.

    Do I need your permission to have an opinion?

  • rate this

    Comment number 335.

    As long as you have mental capacity, you should not be prohibited from jury service, age or otherwise.

    *Also, all juries should be instructed as to their ability to judge the law they are being asked to adjudicate upon. If they feel the law is invalid in their eyes, they should be able to nullify (reject) the law sort to be used by the state against the citizenry.
    La Liberté guidant le peuple!


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