Notes on the role, qualification, disqualification, deferral, excusal, advantages and disadvantages of Juries

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Role of Juries

The Role of Juries

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Role of Juries

  • Sit in benches of 12 in Crown Court
  • Hear indictable offences, like murder, and some triable either-way offences, such as GBH  and ABH.
  • Hear 1% of all criminal cases, around 20,000 cases a year
  • Are the arbiters of fact, not law
  • Sit in a case for roughly 2 weeks
  • Decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty
  • They hear evidence, such as photos, statements and cctv, from the prosecution and defence
  • Deliberate in secret to reach either a unanimous vote or, since the Criminal Justice Act 2003, majority votes of 11-1 or 10-2
  • Elect a foreman to announce the defendant's guilt
  • Do not have to give reason for their decision and the Judge must follow it even if they do not agree
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Qualification & Disqualification of Jurors

Qualification & Disqualification of Jurors

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Qualification & Disqualification of Jurors


  • Juries Act 1974 states the qualifcations:
  • Aged 18-70
  • On the electoral role
  • Resident in the UK for 5 years since their 13th birthday


  • On bail
  • Been imprisoned for life
  • Served any part of a prison sentence in last 10 years
  • Suffers from a mental health disorder
  • Has a physical ability that would alter performance
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Deferral and Excusal of Jury Service

Deferral and Excusal of Jury Service

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Deferral and Excusal of Jury Service


  • Anyone can apply
  • Defers Jury service for up to 12 months
  • Needs to be for a good reason, ie examination or holiday
  • Almost 75% of deferral applications are for work commitments


  • Takes person off list for 12 months

Can be excused if:

  • Served on Jury in last 2 years
  • Over 65 years old
  • Have religious beliefs incompatible with Jury service
  • Full time member of the armed forces
  • Certain members of the medical profession
  • MPs
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Advantages & Disadvantages of Juries

Advantages & Disadvantages of Juries

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Advantages & Disadvantages of Juries


  • Public participation in the legal system inspires confidence in the public
  • Juries are racially balanced and don't discriminate
  • Produce perverse verdicts which are of public opinion and justice


  • Jurors do not need a reason for decision and can decide on a whim
  • They are not truly representative of society as too many people are disqualified
  • Some Jurors can be affected by Jury service in horriffic cases, some Jurors have gone on to recieve counselling
  • They can be seen as having a lack of ability, which has resulted in them being removed from complex fraud trials
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Alex Cummins



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