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Jury trials right to resume if safety allows it – Law Society responds

11 May 2020

The Law Society of England and Wales has welcomed plans to resume jury trials this month, but reasserts the utmost importance of safety.*

The Crown court backlog, at 37,000 cases prior to the crisis, is thought to be growing at pace.

The representative body for solicitors has previously warned of significant and permanent damage to the public’s ability to access justice unless the criminal justice system is supported to stay operational.**

Simon Davis, Law Society president, said:

“With efforts to maintain good hygiene, appropriate distancing, and compliance with all other relevant guidance - jury trials should be resuming as soon as it is safe to do so.

“The extent of the roll-out, particularly with new trials, should be determined by the number of courts which are able to meet those requirements. Some courts - i.e. those with newer, larger courtrooms – will likely find it easier than others to adapt. We must avoid a rush to open courts where it is not yet possible to ensure adequate safety and the right protections.

“The priority in the coming weeks must be to carefully balance access to justice with the safety of judges, lawyers, jurors, the parties and court users – without compromising on justice.”

Notes to editors

*Read the lord chancellor's statement on the resumption of jury trials

**See our interactive heatmap on courts and tribunals status