Views given on three verdict system and related reforms.
An independent analysis report has been published today on Scotland’s Not Proven Verdict and Related Reforms Consultation.
The Consultation received 200 responses from the public, legal sector and those with lived experience and also considered other potential related reforms including jury size, the majority required for conviction and the requirement for corroboration.
In Scottish criminal trials there are three verdicts available: guilty, not guilty and not proven. The not proven verdict has no definition in law however the legal implications are exactly the same as a not guilty verdict.
The independent analysis report of the consultation responses found:
- respondents supported changing to a two verdict system reasoning that it would be easier to understand, fairer and more straightforward
- respondents favoured verdicts of guilty and not guilty (compared to 41% who supported proven and not proven)
- a majority of respondents from a wide range of stakeholders supported a qualified jury majority of some kind if there is a move to two verdicts
- a majority of respondents supported jury size remaining at 15 jurors
- a higher number of respondents supported keeping the corroboration rule than reforming or abolishing it
Justice Secretary Keith Brown said:
“I am very grateful to all of those individuals and organisations who have taken the time to contribute their views on these matters, particularly those who have shared their personal experience of the justice system.
“We must now give careful consideration to the full range of responses received. The findings from this consultation analysis will be used along with a wide range of other information and evidence to inform the decision making process on any potential recommendations for reform.
“Any potential reforms will be considered alongside wider work including the outcome of the current consultation on improving victims’ experiences of the justice system.”
Independent jury research published in 2019, and later engagement on the findings highlighted inconsistent views on the meaning and effect of the not proven verdict and how it differs from not guilty.
The Scottish Government committed in its recent Programme for Government to launch a public consultation on the three verdict system and whether the not proven verdict should be abolished, and to also consider reform of the corroboration rule.
It will also be important to consider potential reforms against the landscape of wider work including the outcome of the current consultation on improving victims’ experiences of the justice system. The consultation includes consideration of those recommendations of the Lord Justice Clerk’s review on improving the management of sexual offence cases which require legislative change to implement.
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