Responding to calls for juries to be cut from 12 to seven by the Labour Party, Derek Sweeting QC, Chair of the Bar Council, said:
“There is no doubt that more measures are needed to tackle this backlog in our courts. HMCTS’s expansion of Nightingale Courts must be rolled out more quickly, and the Government must ensure they are able to attract and retain more court staff.
"Tampering with juries should, however, be a last resort. It is the collective life experience and diversity of members of a jury that ensures evidence is tested robustly and the public can be confident that justice is delivered fairly. Reducing the size of juries risks diluting that experience and denting confidence in our justice system. Even when jury numbers were reduced in wartime (at a time when there were restrictions, which do not exist today, on who could serve on a jury), it was not a blanket reduction. Some cases – murder for example - continued to have 12 person juries, such is the importance of jury trials.”