In the Media

Top judge defends fraud juries

PUBLISHED July 31, 2006

PLANS by ministers to scrap juries for complex fraud trials are facing opposition from Britain?s most senior judge.

Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the Lord Chief Justice, said that scrapping juries would not lead to trials that were any shorter or simpler. He suggested that such cases could become longer because the judge would not be under the same incentive to hone down the issues as when a jury was present. Lord Phillips told lawyers at a seminar in London: ?Take away the jury and you would not have the same discipline on restricting the issues. The court would then consider all the issues.?

He also indicated that strong management of cases by judges would be a better answer.

Lord Phillips?s views will bolster opposition in the legal profession to scrapping juries in fraud trial. Their abolition is backed by the Home Secretary and the Serious Fraud Office.