Inthe Magistrates Court, the use of lay people comes in the form of magistratesthey are general members of the public with no legal background orqualification, at the first instance they are nominated or have an application.To decide appointments, the Senior Presiding Judge selects them based onrecommendations made by the Local Advisory Committee.
(Hodder, 2017). Membersof the Local Advisory Committees usually are current or ex-Justices of Peace,half the members retire in rotation every three years, the committee ought tohave 12 member’s maximum containing a combination of magistrates andnon-magistrates. Thecommittees will interview candidates in the initial interview the panel try tofind out the candidate’s personal characteristics seeing if they inhabit thesix essential qualities that are obligatory, which include social awareness,good character, commitment, sound judgement, maturity, understanding, andcommunication. The subsequent interview is aiming at testing potential legalability by discussing at least two legal case studies of those that frequentlyoccur in the Magistrates’ Courts.
They then submit their names of those whomthey trust are appropriate to the Lord Chancellor, he has the final decision,not necessarily all names put forward will be appointed. The intention is formembership to echo an equilibrium of occupations representing a broad sectionof society. Once magistrates are appointed, they are sworn in at a ceremony;they take the same oath as judges. However, to be a magistrate, candidates arerequired to be between the ages of 18 to 70, and be able to commit to 26 ½ daysper year in Court, also have to live within the geographical area of theirbench. People excluded from jury duty are police officers, MP’s and those with criminalconvictions.
They have the sentencing powers that include fines, communitypayback orders, probation orders or a period of not more than six months incustody up to a total of 12 months for multiple offences. (Judiciary.gov.uk,2017).Inthe Crown Court in contrast to the Magistrates, the Jury consists of 12 laypeople, an official present in each Crown Court that is responsible forsummoning enough jurors to try the cases heard in each two-week period selectsthem. The official arranges for the names to be chosen at random from theelectoral register, for the jurisdiction the court covers.
Most courts havemore than one courtroom making necessary to summon more than 12 jurors. Thosesummonsed must notify the court if there is a reason they cannot attend. Oncethe list is complete, the prosecution and defence have a right to see thatlist. In some cases it is decided to potential jurors should be vetted theseare with police checks and a more extensive background check. The jurors aimfor a unanimous verdict but if this fails then a majority verdict of 10:2 or11:1 can be accepted. The function of the Jury is to decide the decision ofguilty or not guilty they are the sole arbiter’s of fact with the judgedirecting them on the law.
At the end of the prosecution case, the judge hasthe power to acquit if the prosecution’s evidence has not made the case againstthe defendant where the trial continues the judge sums up the situation at theend to the jury and direct them on any law involved. The jury then retires to aprivate room to decide the guilt or innocence of the accused secretly. Thejudge has to accept the jury verdict; this long-established principle goes backto Bushell’s case (1670).Overall,a lay jury is essential in the administration of criminal justice; they areconsidered fundamental in a democratic society. The right to be tried by one’speers is a bulwark of liberty against the state and is supported by prominentjudges. Since juries are not legal experts, they are not bound by legal precedentand do not have to explain their verdict. They decide cases on their idea of’fairness.
‘ Justice is done, and members of the public are involved in a vitalrole in the form of the jury. The law is clear as points are explained to thejury. Due to impartiality, this further makes a jury extremely important, as noone individual is responsible for the decision.Magistratesplay an essential part in the administration of justice on many platforms.Firstly, since 95% of criminal cases start in the Magistrates’ Court (gov.
uk,2017), as the Court of the first instance, they handle the majority of cases atthe preliminary stages, in some cases see the cases through to theirconclusion. The fact that cases are passed to the Crown Court shows theimportance of magistrates, as they can assess the level of criminality andlikely sentence and forward the case to be heard by the most appropriatetribunal, which in itself is an essential role in the interests of justice. Laypeople are important, as they are just regular members of the publicrepresentative of a cross-section of society – the same for a jury in CrownCourt. Task 2Task 3Theavailability of legal funding for civil and criminal law cases is insufficient,creating a two-tier legal system. Inpreceding legal aid systems, aid was available for all cases of law except thespecifically excluded few, specific cases such as small claims. As of thenew system, it is the first rule thatlegal aid is not available for civil cases unless it is the category mentioned explicitly in the Legal Aid,Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 or other regulations.
The types of cases allowed include children’srights and those concerning an individual’s liberty. The result of this changelimits the availability of legal aid as it is no longer granted for thoseinjured through medical negligence furthermore claims for trespass to theperson, to land or property. The funding for legal aid comes from thegovernment’s budget. Only a set amount is available each year, and legal aidspending has fallen from £2.6bn in 2005-06 to £1.5bn last year (Guardian,2017). Toqualify there is now a strict means test. An individual applying for legal aidmust show they do not have enough money to pay for their lawyer.
Not enoughlegal service providers have contracts for government-funded legal work. Inaddition, many solicitors are finding it not economically viable due to therates of pay. This medium has formed ‘advice deserts’; the Constitutional AffairsSelect Committee investigated this problem as long ago as 2004. Even the LegalServices Commission expressed this ‘it is clear that there are parts of Englandand Wales in which the need for publicly funded legal services is not currentlybeing met’ (Hodder, 2017). This explicitly shows the lack of proper fundingavailable; furthermore in some areas people have to travel a long way to see alawyer. This can be expensive and is extremely difficult for people on lowincomes, restricting their access to justice. Even in areas with enough legalservices, providers all the people on a meagre income can qualify for the helpthey deserve.
This is alarming as the legal aid system is increasingly beingrestricted to those with no means at all. There is a substantial risk that manypeople of modest means and will not qualify to amount to a severe denial ofaccess to justice. Statistics produced by the Ministry of Justice in 2009-10,that 933,616 cases were awarded legal aid. The first year of the new Legal AidAgency there were only 172,846. This highlights the fact that legal funding isnot available; in a civilised society, everybody has a right to justice. Thisis leading most people to get advice on a legal problem from the Legal ServicesCommission; they had developed a telephone helpline for people to seek initialbasic advice. There are other advice agencies the Citizens Advice Bureaux; theygive general advice free to anybody on a variety of issues they also advise onlegal matters. Law Centres offer free non-means tested legal services to peoplein the area they aim to provide legal advice and representation free to thosethat cannot afford it.
Another way to fund a court case is by legalinsurance. Incriminal cases, a defendant only gets help with funding for representation ifthey qualify with at least one of the five interests of justice factors. Someof the factors are if the individual would be likely to lose his liberty, ifthe case will involve consideration of a point of law, the individual is unableto understand the proceedings in court and unable to state their case.
Inaddition to this, defendants in the Magistrates Courts are means tested this iscalculated on annual income for those in the middle bracket the disposableincome is means tested. The levels that are allowed are deficient resulting inthree-quarters of adults not qualifying for legal aid in the Magistrates Court.There is a duty solicitor scheme that ensures access to a solicitor for adviceand assistance 24 hours a day, free of charge without means or merit tests.However, in practice, the cover can be described as patchy with advice beinggiven by telephone only, and often the information is from an inexperiencedsolicitor or a legal executive. Research by McConville (1993) (Hodder, 2017) proposed that the standardsof legally aided criminal defence work are low. Unqualified staff carries muchof it out; there is little analytical work and solicitors push clients towardspleading guilty rather than taking time to prepare an adequate defence. Overall,the role of legal funding levels the playing field across society to ensurethat people from all social and wealth groups have adequate representation andaccess to justice.
In recent years, there has been a shift in legal fundingseeing areas of law such as family law and civil law offers withdraw fromoffering legal funding known as legal aid. This has increased the number oflitigants in person with the tribunals as they are unable to fundrepresentation privately so are left to make representations themselves. Whilethis has protected the public purse, it is not without its difficulties.
Litigants in person are not legally skilled and need a lot of support fromjudges during hearings and can often-over step the mark with their questioningtechniques. The most severe consequence of this is the increase in the time ittakes for cases to be heard.