Jury age limit to be raised to 75 in line with increased average life expectancy

Raising the age limit will add an extra three million eligible adults to the jury pool in England and Wales

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The Independent Online

The upper age limit for jurors in England and Wales will be raised from 70 to 75, government ministers have announced. 

Introduced from December 1 this year, ministers say the new age limit will better reflect the average healthy life expectancy, and help to ensure juries are representative of the communities they serve. 

Justice Minister Sir Oliver Herland QC said: “Trial by jury is a fundamental part of our world-leading justice system and it is important that our juries reflect today’s society.

“People are living longer, healthier lives, so it is right that our courts are able to benefit from the wisdom and experience that older people can offer.”

Charity campaigners have welcomed the move, which is the first change of its kind in almost 30 years, calling it a positive step towards eradicating age discrimination.

Saga Director, Paul Green, said: “We are living longer healthier lives. It is great that the Government has recognised the fact that older people not only have a great deal of life experience, but also remain astute, savvy and worldly-wise.

“They will be a valued addition to any jury. This is a common sense reform and should be applauded.”

The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Sarah Rochira, said the move would help challenge negative assumptions about older people and allow them to make an even greater contribution to society.

“I have no doubt that our court system will benefit greatly from the wealth of knowledge and experience they will offer,” she said. 

At present, around 178,000 people in England and Wales aged 18 to 70 undertake jury service each year, out of a jury pool of around 31 million.

Trial by jury was first laid down in the Magna Carta over 800 years ago, and is considered to be one of the most important civic duties a person can be asked to do. 

Juries are selected at random from local electoral registers, however, anyone who is called for jury service – including those aged over 70 – has the option to apply for an excusal under mitigating circumstances.

By extending the age limit, some three million extra eligible adults will be added to the jury pool.

The Ministry of Justice estimates that a potential 3,000-6,000 people aged over 70 will take up jury service each year as a result of the change.

Raising the jury service age limit will add an estimated £19m-£39m to the economy.