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Juries Governed by Juries Act 1974
The Role of the Jury
They are used in the Crown Court for criminal cases (Hear only 1 %)
High Court for: defamation, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, fraud. The jury is used in the QBD
County Court for cases similar to QBD (high court)
Coroners' court They are used to inquire into deaths and the jury is between 7 and 11.
. The Judge decides on points of law, he/she has the power to direct the jury to acquit the defendant if there is
insufficient evidence and no case to answer. In the majority of cases he will direct the jury as to the law and the role of
the jury is to consider evidence and decide if the defendant is guilty or not.
In civil cases, juries decide the liability of the parties as well as the level of damages awarded. As a consequence,
juries can award excessively high damages, but since 1990 (The Courts and Legal Services Act), the Court of Appeal
and vary the damages to appropriate levels.
Unanimous and Majority Verdicts
A unanimous verdict is one where all 12 jurors agree. If after at least 2 hours jury is undecided judge can tell jury a
majority verdict will be accepted. A jury cannot fall below 9.
The Qualifications of a Juror
To be eligible must be:
Aged between 18 and 70
On the electoral register
Resident in the UK for at least 5 years from age 13
People who have been sentenced to prison or a young offenders' institution or its equivalent may be disqualified
depending on how long the sentence was and how recently it was made.
If you have ever been sentenced to imprisonment for life or
to imprisonment, or youth custody for 5 years or more or
detained during HM Pleasure
If you have in the last 10 years served any part of sentence of imprisonment, youth custody or detention, or
received a suspended sentence of imprisonment or an order for detention, or
have been the subject of a community service order
if you have in the past 5 years have placed on probation
if you are currently on bail
The Criminal Justice Act 2003 has abolished the category of excusal as of right and ineligible. It used to be the case
that members of the judiciary, police officers and anyone involved in the criminal justice system could not serve on the
jury. In order to introduce professionalism onto the jury, these categories have now been abolished.
An individual may be excused at the discretion of the court or may ask for their jury service to be deferred for a good
reason eg exam, family commitments, booked holiday, job commitments, etc. If not excused may be fined up to
£1,000 for non attendance
Selection of A Jury
Once the list of potential jurors is known both the prosecution and defence have the right to see that list. Vetting
takes two forms:
1. Routine police checks are made on prospective jurors to eliminate those disqualified. In R v Mason 1980 it
was revealed that the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire had been allowing widespread use of unauthorised
vetting of criminal records. The Court of Appeal approved of this type of vetting.
2. A wider check is made on a juror's background and political affiliations. After these cases AG issued
guidelines on this type of vetting. These are known as the Attorney Generals Guidelines 1988:
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Should only be used in cases involving national security such as terrorist cases
The Attorney Generals permission is needed.
There are two types of challenges:
To the array
Under Juries Act 1974, the whole jury can be challenged on the basis that it has been chosen in an
unrepresentative or biased way.…read more