Monday, April 04, 2016

What You Need to Know About Jury Service

One of the cornerstones of our British judicial system is the right of all citizens to receive a trial by a jury of their peers. It’s one of the primary civic duties that any adult in the UK between the ages of 18 and 70 can be called upon to perform. If you've received a summons to serve on a jury, here’s a handy guide as to what the process involves.

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General Overview:

First of all, do be aware that jury service is not optional and unless you can get a deferral (more on that later), you must attend when summoned. Failure to attend can lead to a fine of up to £1000. Your service will always take place as close as possible to your home in order to keep travel to a minimum.  At the end of your service, you can claim for expenses incurred as well as for any loss of earnings.  In general, jury service can last up to 10 days, however it can be significantly longer depending on the case.

Taking Time Off Work:

All employers are duty bound to allow their staff to take time off work for jury service, but they may also ask you to delay your service if they feel your absence will have a serious impact on business.

Your employer does not have to pay you as normal during your time away, but you can claim back for any loss of earnings from the court. If you are refused time off you can bring it before an employment tribunal, and if you are sacked then you can claim for unfair dismissal. However if your employer has asked you to delay your service (where possible) and you have refused, you may not be eligible.

What Expenses Can You Claim?

You can claim back from the court for any expenses incurred from travel, food and refreshments, loss of earnings and child care. Likewise if you claim any sort of benefits, such as jobseekers allowance, this is unaffected for the first 8 weeks of any trial. There are maximum daily amounts you can claim, for example in the case of loss of earnings, for the first 10 days  if you  serve for under 4 hours per day, the maximum is £32.47 and if over 4 hours, £64.95. Then, from day 11 through to day 200, under four hours is £64.95 and over 4 hours £129.91. Further details on these limits can be found here:  https://www.gov.uk/jury-service/what-you-can-claim

Can You Delay Your Jury Service?

As mentioned above, you can request that your jury service be delayed. As well as requesting this on the grounds that your absence from work would prove highly detrimental, there are several other legitimate grounds which may be considered. These include issues such as if you already have a holiday booked, if you have exams coming up, you’re a teacher and it’s in term time, or you are due to have an operation of some kind. Note however that you can only defer on jury service once, and when you do so, you must provide times when you are available over the next 12 months as well as providing a genuine reason as to why you are unavailable at any stage.

You may find that you ineligible for jury service for several reasons. For example, anyone who has served time in prison in the last ten years is automatically disqualified; anyone who holds certain jobs within the judicial system is ineligible, as are people serving in the armed forces, medical practitioners, dentists, nurses and midwives.

Are You Allowed to Discuss the Trial?

As I'm sure most of us have gathered from years watching TV, it is forbidden to discuss details of your case with anyone other than your fellow jury members and even then only within the deliberation room. This applies even when the case is over and includes any posts on social media. You may face a hefty fine or even jail time if you ignore this rule.

If you have any further questions on jury service, contact the Jury Central Summoning Bureau for further details:
Jury Central Summoning Bureau
jurysummoning@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: 0300 456 1024
Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm
Friday 9am to 3pm

Postal Address:
Jury Central Summoning Bureau
Pocock Street
London
SE1 0BJ

For more specific legal advice, you can also contact FBCMB, Solicitors in Shrewsbury, who are experts in the issues discussed above.

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