• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Could The English Legal System Function Without Lay Magistrates?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Jonathan Dryden Could The English Legal System Function Without Lay Magistrates? Lay magistrates are unqualified, part-time and unpaid, yet they deal with the vast majority of cases in the legal system. They do not hear cases on their own but sit as a bench or panel of two or three magistrates. The use of such unqualified judges is open to criticism. The role of magistrates is that they are expected to deal with a wide variety of cases. Their main work is trying minor criminal cases, but they also have some civil functions, e.g. hearing applications for licenses to sell alcohol and dealing with community debts such a non-payment of the community charge. They also deal with domestic jurisdiction such as adoption, divorce etc. There are two types of magistrate - lay and stipendiary. ...read more.

Middle

Because Lay magistrates are just average, but professional people such as teachers, doctors etc. it is an advantage because they can see what goes on in their community and so are more in touch with realistic issues, this also pleases public opinion of magistrates. Improved training means that lay magistrates are not complete 'amateurs'. New magistrates are given about 40 hours of training spread over the first three years. This consists of: * Observing court proceedings and learning 'on the job' * Attending lectures and workshops * Visiting penal institutions The training is not meant to make magistrates proficient in the law, but to give them an understanding of their duties. A major part of the training is aimed at sentencing. Magistrates on the Youth panel and the Family panel receive extra training for this. ...read more.

Conclusion

Cases are dealt with relatively quick which helps prevent backlog. There are few appeals from magistrate's decisions. There are also many disadvantages of using lay magistrates. Lay magistrates tend to be middle-class, middle-aged and middle minded and will have little in common with the young working class defendants who make up the majority of defendants. Both working-class and ethnic minorities are under-represented. The training that magistrates receive is also inadequate for the workload. A major criticism of lay magistrates is that they tend to be prosecution biased, believing the police too readily. They only acquit about 25% of cases and some magistrates may rely too heavily on their clerk. There is inconsistency in sentencing and in the granting of bail and the workload is becoming too great and complicated especially in the family court. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Law section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Law essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    "Within the present system of precedent in the English legal system, judges have very ...

    4 star(s)

    to its unique facts such as in the cases of R v. Larsornneur [1933] and Winsar v. Chief Constable of Kent [1983]. As for the obiter dictum, which means 'things said along the way', it is generally not binding as it is merely some persuasive argument or examples that judges

  2. Lay Magistrates.

    There are six key qualifications that must be taken into consideration when assessing a potential Lay Magistrate. A Lay Magistrate must possess good character. This is personal integrity and the respect and trust of others, respect for confidences. Also the potential candidate must possess good understanding and communication.

  1. Distinguishing between a Lay Magistrate and a Stipendiary Magistrate.

    Disadvantages are that as people have to give their time voluntarily, it attracts wealthy or retired people who are often enjoying lifestyles out of touch with those they are dealing with. There is often not enough representation for the young and ethnic minorities.

  2. essay discussing the advantages and disadvanteges of lay magistrates

    his right to elect trial in the crown court or if he fells it would benefit him then he can choose to be tried in the magistrates' court. However, even if the defendant opts to go the magistrates' court, the magistrates can decline the case if they feel they have

  1. Discuss The Advantages & Disadvantages of The Use of Lay Magistrates

    Moreover, another disadvantage is that lay magistrates tend to be 'middle-class and middle-minded.' They are not a true cross-section of people from the local community and may be seen to have little in common with young defendants, which took lead to them enforcing a wrong decision.

  2. Describe the system of trial by jury within the English legal system.

    for a short time, and want to spend that time with their family, rather than do jury service. MP's would also be excused because their job is seen to be very demanding. People who have served in the last 2 years would have the right to be excused because they

  1. Describe the main differences between solicitors and barristers with regard to training and work ...

    Worsley, because he looked like he was half asleep during the trial of the case. Rondel then tried to sue Mr. Worsley, claiming damages. The courts held that barristers did not owe their client a duty of care, so they could not be sued by their clients.

  2. The Work of the Magistrates Court and Magistrates

    A magistrates's court committee (MCC) is a group of up to twelve magistrate members selected by a statutory selection panel for each magistrate's courts committee area. The powers and duties of MCCs, and the requirements for the selection process, are laid down in legislation. Each MCC is responsible for the provision of an efficient and high quality service to the public within its area.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work