A pink letter slid through your letterbox summoning you to do jury service. So what's involved? And can you get out of jury duty?
Who can be a jury member?
Anyone and everyone. Yes, that includes you. So if you are aged between 18 and 70 years old, and registered to vote, there’s a chance you will be picked from the local Electoral Register to serve.
You are only exempt from jury service if:
- You are currently on bail in criminal proceedings
- You have ever been sentenced to imprisonment for five years or more
- You have been imprisoned within the last 10 years
- You’re currently hospitalised or attending treatment for a mental disorder.
Can I get out of jury duty?
Nope. Sorry. Not even if your dog ate your jury summons. It’s compulsory. If you’ve got an exam or a pre-booked holiday then you are allowed to defer it and switch the dates. Although you can only defer it once.
As for getting out of jury duty completely…no-sir-ee. Not unless you have a very good reason and evidence to back it up. And if you don’t bother turning up you risk being fined a massive £1,000.
However, if you’ve served on a jury in the last two years but you get summoned again, you are not obligated to do another stint.
How long does jury service last?
It lasts around 10 working days (two weeks), and you can be a juror on more than one trial during this time. If, at the end of this time the trail is still going on, you will be asked to stay serving. Some trials can last weeks, even months, and once you’re sworn in you’ll be expected to stay until the verdict is decided. Although, on cases that are expected to last a long time, the court staff will ask you if a prolonged jury stint will cause difficulties and you may be allowed to skip that particular trial.
Who can I talk to about the trial?
Chances are, the moment you get back from your first day at court, everyone will want to know the juicy details. But once you are a juror you can only discuss the trial in the jury room when all the jury are present. Nowhere else and with no-one else.
It is an offence for anyone outside your jury to try and influence you about the case. If anyone approaches you about the case tell a court official or police officer at once.
It is also an offence for anyone to impersonate a juror and to serve on their behalf.
What will I do for money during jury service?
You are entitled to meal vouchers for attending court. You can also claim travel expenses and an allowance for other financial loss. This includes a loss of earning or benefits, child-minding fees, and any other costs you may have incurred as a direct result of jury service.
How do I claim money for jury service?
Tell your boss as soon as you receive written notification from the court of the dates they require you to attend. You should receive a loss of earnings form at the same time. Give this to whoever organises your pay for completion before jury service starts.
They might not be particularly happy about it, but your employer has to release you for jury service. If they refuse they will be in contempt of court and liable to a fine or imprisonment. If they refuse to pay, you will be entitled to some compensation from the court, however this will probably be set to the minimum wage.
If your boss tries to sack you over jury service they will be in contempt of court.
Updated on 29-Sep-2015
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