The author aims to demonstrate that the central argument for the jury system in the English criminal justice system has been the preservation of justice and the prevention of a prejudiced trial and F. G. Hails suggests that any “restriction on the right to trial by jury even for a single class of criminal is the first step on the ladder to the police state4.” However, whilst the jury trial remains theoretically symbolic of the preservation of justice within the criminal trial system, the role of the jury has been plagued by controversy, with some critics attacking the competence of the jurors and expense of the system in reality5. The increasing concerns regarding the practical limitations of the jury trial paradigm have fuelled contentious debate further in the English legal system since the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice made its report in 19936.
The focus of this analysis is to critically evaluate the polarised debate pertaining to the efficacy of the jury system and consider how far the opposing views can be reconciled into an effective and operational compromise within the criminal justice system. The most recent official attempt at eroding trial by jury were the proposals extrapolated in the Auld Report 20017, which proposed that offenses that could be tried, either way, the defendant should lose the right to choose to elect a Crown Court hearing with jury trial, particularly if the likelihood of the possible sentence would not exceed 2 years.
The report culminated in a White Paper inviting consultation and eventually, the recommendations were rejected. However, it is important to consider the considerations that motivated the Auld reform proposals in considering the role of trial by jury.
On the one hand, it had been submitted that the Auld Report proposals would result in a potential conflict with the Human Rights Act 1998, which implements the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) into .UK law. .