bits of law

Main Section

Legal System | Criminal Courts

Lay People: Advantages

Model Answer | A Level

Download Adobe PDF Icon

Discuss the advantages of using lay people in the criminal justice proces

Trial by peers is an ancient principle as codified in Magna Carta 1215 and recognised as a fundamental part of the legal system. Lord Bingham described magistrates as .. a democratic jewel beyond price.... In Ward v James,Lord Denning noted .. trial by jury has no equal....

The use of lay people makes proceedings more accessible. Magistrates' courts tend to be less intimidating and easier to understand compared to Crown Court trials. Juries allow the public to participate in the justice system and means cases have to be clear so the jury can follow arguments which helps understanding for defendants and wider public.

Legal knowledge is not needed as trials tend to focus on conflicting evidence not points of law and so lay people can focus on the evidence and reach a fairer verdict. Public confidence is generally higher in the decisions made by peers than those of the legal profession, who are often seen as part of the state machinery.

This site is best viewed with style sheets (CSS) enabled and an up-to-date browser.