Page last updated at 00:37 GMT, Saturday, 26 April 2008 01:37 UK

Review could reduce jury numbers

Kenny MacAskill
Kenny MacAskill said jury sizes could be reduced

The number of people serving on a jury could be reduced as part of a review by the Scottish Government.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said he would be open to reducing jury sizes from 15 down to 11 or even fewer.

The Scottish Government is to carry out a public consultation on the jury system this summer.

In an interview for The Firm legal magazine, Mr MacAskill said he would be surprised if the investigation found the current 15 was the right number.

At the moment, Scotland has the largest number of jurors sitting in a criminal trial in Europe.

Mr MacAskill said: "We have to get the right system for the next and for other generations.

He added: "In some jurisdictions, it could be down as low as seven for some matters, up to 11 for others."

The justice secretary said the Scottish Government was keen to look at a system that had not been reviewed "since almost time immemorial".

The Firm magazine is campaigning to reduce the size of a jury in Scotland from 15 members to 11.

Editor Richard Draycott said jury remuneration costs 4m per year.

He added: "We will continue to speak up for the interests of the profession and campaign for evolution and reform of the law if there is a strong argument for doing so."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We intend to launch a public consultation on juries in the summer.

"This will examine a range of issues including jury composition, age limits, remuneration and issues about selection.

"However, as with any consultation we have no fixed views and hope to hear from a range of interested groups and individuals."

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