Lay Magistrates' Interpretations of ‘Substantial Grounds’ for Denying Bail

12 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2010

Date Written: 2010-04-01


The main goal was to capture how decision makers interpret the phrase ‘substantial grounds’ for denying bail stated in the Bail Act 1976. It was found that magistrates who remanded the defendant into custody, judged the mean risks of the defendant absconding, offending on bail, and obstructing justice to be significantly greater than did those who bailed the defendant. Thus, the mean interpretation of ‘substantial grounds’ across magistrates was from 46% to 51% (on a 0% to 100% scale). However, there was great variability across magistrates. We discuss the implications of the present findings for encouraging consistent, transparent and justifiable interpretations of bail law.

Suggested Citation

Dhami, Mandeep K., Lay Magistrates' Interpretations of ‘Substantial Grounds’ for Denying Bail (2010-04-01). The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 49, Issue 4, pp. 349-360, September 2010, Available at SSRN: or

Mandeep K. Dhami (Contact Author)

Middlesex University ( email )

The Burroughs
London, NW4 4BT
United Kingdom

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