government review

Lay judge system to get an overhaul

The government will review Sweden's system of lay judges. Lay judges are appointed by political parties and work with professional judges in district courts. The lay judge system is meant to boost democracy in the courtroom, but has been criticised on several counts.

Justice Minister Beatrice Ask wants more education for the lay judges.

Reviewers will also try to make sure the lay judges more evenly represent Sweden's population - today two in five are 65 or older.

The political parties nominate lay judges across the country. Few Swedes know that they do not have to be a party member in order to become a lay judge. The justice minster wants to make this clear to attract more candidates.

Ask simultaneously wants to remind people that party politics have no place in the courtroom.

"It's important that the Swedish people see the lay judges as chosen democratically without it meaning that they represent a party," she says.

"The lay judges need more education and information about what the rules are," she adds.

The review will also look at whether less court cases will involve lay judges in the judging process.

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