The new age limit, to be introduced on 1 December, will better reflect the healthy life expectancy of people in England and Wales and mean juries are more representative of the communities they serve.
It is the first change of its kind in almost 30 years and will allow a growing demographic of older people to participate in this vital civic duty.
Justice Minister, Sir Oliver Heald QC, said:
“Trial by jury is a fundamental part of our world-leading justice system and it is important that our juries reflect today’s society.
“People are living longer, healthier lives, so it is right that our courts are able to benefit from the wisdom and experience that older people can offer.”
Previously only people aged 18 to 70 were eligible to sit as jurors.
As with everyone who is selected for jury service, individuals over the age of 70 will be able to apply for an excusal if they feel incapable of carrying out their duties.
Chief Executive of older people’s charity Anchor, Jane Ashcroft CBE, said:
“I welcome this move by the Ministry of Justice to increase the upper age limit for jurors. Older people already contribute a great deal to society and represent an integral part of any local community.
“At Anchor we believe the knowledge and experience of older people is invaluable and I’m pleased that more will now be able to share their wisdom by contributing to the criminal justice system.”
Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Sarah Rochira, said:
“I welcome the announcement by the Ministry of Justice that the upper age limit for jury service will be increased from 1 December.
“This positive step forward will help to challenge negative assumptions about older people and will mean they can make an even greater contribution to society. I have no doubt that our court system will benefit greatly from the wealth of knowledge and experience they will offer.”
Saga Director, Paul Green, said:
“We are living longer healthier lives. It is great that the government has recognised the fact that older people not only have a great deal of life experience, but also remain astute, savvy and worldly-wise.
“They will be a valued addition to any jury. This is a common sense reform and should be applauded.”