• 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)

    including the House of Lords as well as the other inferior courts in the UK, but not upon itself. Whereas the decisions of the Privy Council and the decisions of courts in Scotland, Australia, the US and other countries are not binding on the English courts but they are of strong persuasive authority such as the Wagon Mound case.

  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. Describe the system of appointing and training Lay Magistrates.

    There are several aspects to a Lay Magistrate's training. These include background reading and distance learning exercises that cover the role and responsibilities of a Lay Magistrate. Before sitting in court, a magistrate will receive several days of core training which can take the form of evening session or a full residential course.

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

    Lay magistrates do not make decisions on their own; instead they have to sit on a bench with other Lay Magistrates. A lay magistrate on their own has limited powers. The maximum prison sentence a lay magistrate can give is 6 months and a maximum fine of �5,000.

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

    This case set a precedent which would apply to all later cases. This struck out many cases against barristers which could be deemed hopeless or unsuccessful. But as we see in Saif Ali v. Sydney Mitchell (1978), this immunity was only extended to pre-trial work closely involved with the conduct of the case.

  2. The Law Relating to Negotiable Instruments

    check because a check becomes time-barred after three years from its date of issue. Protection to the Paying Banker The Negotiable Instruments Act provides special protection to a banker who honors, his customer's checks. The rationale of the protection may be explained as follows.

  1. essay discussing the advantages and disadvanteges of lay magistrates

    These are.. 1)managing yourself-such as conduct in court 2)working as a member of a team 3)making judicial decisions-impartial and structured decision making Magistrates have many of main functions; these include trying summary offenses-the least serious-, to deal with preliminary matters for cases which are going to be heard in the

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

    For example the "Mclibel trial" which envolved a defamation action brought by McDonald's against two environmental campaigners was heard by a judge alone, because the judge felt that the evidence was to complicated for a jury to understand. This was probably a good decision because it turned out to be the longest ever civil trial.

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