Unit 23 - D1

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Unit 23 – D1

In this section I am going to evaluate the effectiveness of Lay people within the English Legal System.

Lay people are extremely useful individuals within the civil and criminal courts within the English legal system. The most influential lay people are the Lay Magistrates and the Jury who have important roles with the legal system. Magistrates usually deal with most cases that are heard within the criminal system. They are the decision makers as to guilt or innocence making 97-99% of all cases while on the other hand 1% of cases are heard with a jury present. This shows us that those that are not legally qualified make most decisions regarding the criminal justice system, which means that they are ordinary people who hail from different backgrounds within society.

Lay magistrates are useful because they deal with summary offences, which make up 95-97% of all criminal offences. Doing this saves the time of high calibre courts and the judges who operate within them. Additionally costs are kept low as legally qualified district judges need not be used as they charge £52.10-£61.78 an hour. Lay magistrates are much cheaper as they work voluntarily. Magistrates hail from all backgrounds within society and as such different ethnicities and genders can be found within their ranks.

A great asset that most magistrates have is that they bring local knowledge to the courtroom whereas judges tend to be educated and from affluent backgrounds and can sometimes not know the environment that a defendant has been brought up in. Magistrates are derived from society but not all sections are represented equally. Women only make up 10% of judges but in terms of magistrates they make up 50%, which shows a variety of equality between men, and women who sit on the panel of magistrates. The ethnic community only represent 1% of judges whereas in terms of magistracy they hold a seat of approximately 7%. Overall, magistrates come from a wider background than judges do and

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