Upper age limit for jury duty to be raised to 75
Published on 20 August 2013 02:00 PM
Damian Green has announced plans to raise the upper age limit of jurors in a bid to make the criminal justice system more inclusive and reflective of modern society.
The justice minister believes that allowing people up to the age of 75 to sit on juries in England and Wales will offer significant benefits to the courts, especially by harnessing the older jurors' knowledge and life experiences.
Around 178,000 people undertake jury service across the two countries each year, but at present only those aged between 18 and 70 qualify as jurors.
'The right to be tried by your peers is, and remains, a cornerstone of the British Justice system laid down in the Magna Carta almost 800 years ago,' said Mr Green.
'Our society is changing and it is vital that the criminal justice system moves with the times. The law as it currently stands does not take into account the increases to life expectancy that have taken place over the past 25 years.'
Extraordinary human capital within our older population
The age range was last amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which raised the upper limit from 65 to 70. If the latest proposed changes are to come into effect then a new law will be required, possibly brought forward by early next year.
People who are summoned for jury duty are expected to attend without fail, although the original Juries Act 1974 still allows people to be excused if they can show a good reason why they should be.
Michelle Mitchell, charity director general at Age UK, has welcomed the plans to include older people on juries.
'Judging someone on the basis of their date of birth alone risks overlooking a person's unique skills and knowledge,' she commented.
'While it's true that increasing longevity brings its challenges, there is also extraordinary human capital within our older population - older people are working, volunteering and contributing a huge amount to communities and the wider marketplace.'