7 person juries?

28th January 2021 Business Crime

Yesterday David Lammy, Labour's shadow justice secretary called for emergency measures to address the growing back-log of trials at it reached a new high of 54,000.

His proposal is that the number of jurors required for a Crown Court trial be reduced from 12 to 7.

This is a measure which was used during the Second World War.

David Lammy, is reported as saying: "The justice system is facing its gravest crisis since World War Two, leaving thousands of victims waiting too long to get justice”

There has been a less than enthusiastic response from the Bar Council, who have expressed the view that tampering with juries should be a 'last resort'.

Derek Sweeting QC, chair of the Bar Council, has said:

‘It is the collective life experience and diversity of members of a jury that ensures evidence is tested robustly and the public can be confident that justice is delivered fairly. Reducing the size of juries risks diluting that experience and denting confidence in our justice system

Justice Minister Lord Wolfson of Tredegar said it is ‘unlikely’ that the size of juries will be reduced, when he was asked questions in the House of Lords by Lord Pannick.

Lord Wolfson responded by saying:

‘Trial by jury is a cornerstone of the criminal justice system in this jurisdiction. We’ve made, with the support of Public Health England and Public Health Wales, adjustments to 290 court rooms and jury deliberation rooms so as to facilitate trial by jury. Reducing the size of the jury, my lords, therefore is unlikely’.

The Law society has also rejected the idea of reducing jury numbers

So it appears that the government has no immediate plans to reduce the numbers of jurors in Criminal trials, it is clear that something effective needs to be done by the Ministry of Justice to address this growing crisis.

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Phillip Barlow is a Solicitor located in Manchester in our Business Crime & Regulation department

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