The Bar Council has opposed government plans to legalise remote juries, saying it would render jurors spectators rather than participants in the justice process. In a briefing on the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, the representative body said it does not support legislation allowing for remote juries. ‘The Bar Council echoes the comments made by the lord chief justice that remote juries would make the jury spectators rather than participants in a trial. For these reasons, it is our belief that this measure should not become law without thorough research, evaluation and consideration of the impact on the administration of justice and justice outcomes.’
The council added that it is ‘unnecessary’ to legalise remote juries now, when in-person trials are underway. ‘At the height of the pandemic, when remote proceedings were almost the only way of ensuring the justice system could continue to hear cases, such a measure may have been more understandable. The situation was addressed in other ways, so the measure now seems unnecessary. If such a measure were required in future, it could and should be introduced then at a point at which the need for such a fundamental change to the jury trial process could be properly considered by parliament in the particular circumstances of a new emergency,' it said.