• 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)

    Since then, judges are said to be very much bound to follow precedents. By virtue of section 3 of the European Communities Act 1972 and section 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998, the rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Communities are binding on all European Courts

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

    In addition, a disadvantage is that the lay magistrates are not legally qualified; therefore they may not fully understand the case in question or could have an influenced decision or doubts about the case, if they do not know what is happening in the court.

  2. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  1. The Law Relating to Negotiable Instruments

    Where the check is not presented within a reasonable time of its issue. Ordinarily a period of six months is considered sufficient within which the check must be presented for payment. On the expiry of this period the check is treated as 'stale' and the banker may dishonor the same.

  2. 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

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