There are lawyers who argue that magistrates courts should be presided over only by District Judges (MC) on the basis presumably that their clients would receive a fairer hearing and be less likely to be convicted than by a bench of three magistrates. As an aside those self same lawyers would be aghast if a single crown court judge replaced the jury system of twelve. There are, however, some statistics which make interesting reading regarding summary motoring offences where almost everyone has a vested interest in avoiding conviction and which are generally decided by a magistrates bench. In the 12 months ending June 2020 480,203 defendants were tried against of whom 474,039 were convicted; a rate of 98.7%. A complete extract from the appropriate statistics table is copied above.
An interesting comparison can be made with figures newly released on single justice procedures with speeding charges based upon detection by camera devices for the nine months ended September 2020 during which 68,905 were progressed resulting in 43% pleading guilty. Not guilty pleas were about 1%. Presumably the remainder chose not to attend although the figures do not make it clear if non attendees were included in the 43% nor the numbers sent for trial of the 1%. My personal assumption is that the outstanding 56% were found guilty by the single justice based upon paper evidence which was unopposed.
The only conclusion seems to be that a conviction rate of around 99% can be justified as a true reflection of a fair justice system but only in very precise circumstances. To use a conviction rate alone to further a legal argument without other considerations is unjustified (pun intended).