11 Jun 2011

Bill allowing over-65s to avoid jury service criticised

8:45 am on 11 June 2011

Proposed legislation to allow people over the age of 65 to permanently opt out of jury service is being criticised as patronising and ageist.

The Juries Amendment Bill would allow people over the age of 65 or those with chronic ill health or permanent disability to be permanently excused from service.

Leading barrister Peter Williams QC says the proposal is discourteous and sends the wrong message about the suitability of retirees to serve as jurors.

The Human Rights Commissioner, Judy McGregor, has said the law change could amount to age discrimination.

But the Law Society supports the bill, saying people over 65 who are selected for jury duty already have the right to say no, and the change simply allows them to opt out of any selections for the rest of their lives.