In English law, a special verdict is a verdict by a jury that pronounces on the facts of the case but does not draw the ultimate inference of whether the accused is guilty or not. It is then for the judge to apply the law and to convict or acquit. In the words of William Blackstone, "The jury state the naked facts, as they find them to be proved, and pray the advice of the court thereon".
The judge forced a special verdict in the famous 1884 case of R v. Dudley and Stephens, which established a precedent that necessity is not a defence to a charge of murder, but generally it is recommended that such verdicts should only be returned in the most exceptional cases.
In civil cases, a special verdict can be given, but in criminal cases, a general verdict is rendered, because requiring a special verdict could apply judicial pressure to the jury, and because of the jury's historic function of tempering rules of law by common sense brought to bear upon the facts of a specific case. For this reason, Justices Black and Douglas indicated their disapproval of special interrogatories even in civil cases.
- Lord Mackay of Clashfern (ed.) (2006) Halsbury's Laws of England, Vol.11(3) 4th ed. 2006 reissue, "Criminal Law, Evidence and Procedure", 1339. Special verdict
- Commentaries on the Laws of England (14th ed.) 3 377
- R v. Bourne (1952) 36 Cr App Rep 125 at 127, CCA, per Lord Goddard CJ
- R v. Agbim  Crim LR 171, CA
- U.S. v. Spock, 416 F.2d 165 (1st Cir. July 11, 1969).
- Morgan, E. M. (1923) "A brief history of special verdicts", Yale Law Journal, 32:575-592
- Simpson, A. W. B. (1984). Cannibalism and the Common Law: The Story of the Tragic Last Voyage of the Mignonette and the Strange Legal Proceedings to Which It Gave Rise. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. pp209–210. ISBN 9780226759425.