Written Answers - Criminal Prosecutions

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 745 No. 2

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  333.  Deputy Brendan Griffin  Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin   asked the Minister for Justice and Equality  Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter   if specially trained jurors will be required for future complex commercial criminal cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31893/11]

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  335.  Deputy Michael McGrath  Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath   asked the Minister for Justice and Equality  Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter   his views on whether specially trained jurors may be required to adjudicate on complex criminal cases, including any banking-related charges; if he has any proposals to introduce changes in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31911/11]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I propose to take Questions Nos. 333 and 335 together.

I am aware of recent comments on the composition of juries. It is important to bear in mind that the current jury system is a fundamental part of our legal framework and any departure from it on the lines suggested is not without some difficulty.

Of relevance, however, is that in August last, I commenced the provisions of section 57 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 which is designed to assist juries in their consideration of complex cases. The judge may order copies of documents, charts, transcripts, agreed summaries of evidence and other documents be given to a jury to assist in its deliberations. Where an affidavit sworn by an accountant is to be made available, the person who swore it may be required to explain to the jury any relevant accounting procedure or principles. This will allow jury members to review key aspects of evidence in a simplified manner and enhance their ability to reach just and fair decisions.

In addition, as the Deputy may be aware, the Law Reform Commission is in the process of a detailed examination of jury service, in particular qualification, eligibility, selection process and related matters and in this context published a consultation paper last year. This process represents the first wide-ranging analysis of jury service since the introduction of the Juries Act 1976. I understand that the Commission’s report including its recommendations is to be published in the first quarter of next year and I look forward to considering the matter further when that is to hand.


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