The age of jury service is to be raised by five years to include 70- to 75-year-olds in a move expected to cut the cost of compensating jurors taking time off work.

The changes will be legislated through an act of parliament early next year, the Ministry of Justice said today.

Criminal justice minister Damian Green said the legislation was necessary to reflect societal changes. ‘The law as it currently stands does not take into account the increases to life expectancy that have taken place over the past 25 years,’ he said.

Some 178,000 people in England and Wales undertake jury service each year.

Currently only 18- to 70-year-olds are eligible to sit as jurors.

The age range was last amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which raised the upper limit from 65 to 70.

In 2011 Scotland removed the upper age limit on jury service. Those called up over 70 have a ‘right of excusal’.