Lawyers vote to thwart juryless trials pilot

Lawyers vote to thwart juryless trials pilot

Lawyers in Glasgow and Edinburgh have voted to boycott the proposed juryless trials pilot in rape cases.

Members of the Edinburgh Bar Association voted overwhelmingly to boycott the measure contained in the Victims, Witnesses, and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill should they come to fruition.

In a statement, EBA said: “This is reflective of our profound concerns about the removal of a fundamental protection against miscarriages of justice in order to achieve a narrow political aim.

“Trial by jury is a cornerstone of our justice system. We try the most serious crimes before an anonymous group of 15 persons, from a wide variety of backgrounds who have the benefit of their collective life experience when reaching considered decisions on the allegations before them. To remove this civic function, in the proposed circumstances, demonstrates a lack of faith in the ability of the Scottish public to perform that role.

“Our solicitors and solicitor advocates appear in courts across Scotland on a daily basis and have substantial collective experience of the operation of our justice system. We are committed to ensure that our system remains fair, balanced, transparent and free from unwarranted interference. In taking this stand we are acting to prevent miscarriages of justice. We support the similar stance taken by our colleagues across the country.”

The Glasgow Bar Association said a recent survey of its members was “overwhelmingly in favour of boycotting the single judge pilot court”.

Responding to criticism of the pilot by Lord Uist in a piece for this publication, Justice Secretary Angela Constance said in Holyrood earlier this week that the pilot would be “entirely compatible with an accused right to a fair trial”.

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