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Law Council of Australia


Policy Statement - Jury Directions

14 May 2010

The jury is an important part of the system of criminal justice in this country. Jury trials allow the community to play an important and direct role in the administration of justice. In that way, jury trials provide a safeguard against the arbitrary or oppressive enforcement of the criminal law by those in authority.

Likewise, jury trials help ensure that criminal proceedings are conducted in a manner which is comprehensible to the general public and that the outcomes ultimately achieved are regarded as legitimate and impartial.

Justice requires that juries deliver their verdict in accordance with the law, based on the evidence led at the trial. In order to do this, juries must be properly instructed as to legal principles which are, or may be, relevant to determining the particular facts of the case and the application of the law to those facts. The complexity of this task will vary.

While every attempt should be made to ensure that the relevant legal principles are communicated to the jury in a comprehensible manner, these principles must, complex or otherwise, nonetheless be communicated the jury and borne in mind by them when evaluating the evidence.


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