Most of us will have heard of jury service, but don’t quite understand what it’s about or what it entails; some look forward to it, and some dread it immensely. But, there’s no reason to be daunted, if you’re called up, this blog will tell you everything you need to know about completing jury service.
Who has to complete jury service?
Everyone over the age of 18 (but under the age of 70) is eligible for jury service. You also need to be registered as a parliamentary or local government elector and have lived in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for any period of at least 5 years since you were 13 years old.
How are jurors chosen?
Jurors are selected at random from the electoral register, so you can be chosen anytime. Sometimes individuals are selected more than once, others never get selected! This is another reason why it is important to keep your record up to date – if you move from London to Liverpool and don’t update your entry, you may get called to attend in London.
If you get chosen your employer and/or institution should be able to arrange suitable time off for you (don’t worry, you will get paid if you are working). Alternatively, you are able to defer your service (but only once) if you have a holiday booked or are going into hospital for an operation.
What do you have to do?
Jury service usually lasts for two weeks, but can go on for longer if you are selected for a case that will take longer to process. You may even be on a jury for multiple trials over your two week period.
As a jury member, you will be required to recite an oath stating you will base your verdict solely on the evidence given. You are not allowed to talk about the ongoing trial with anyone, including the other jurors, until the deliberation at the end, where you will make a decision on the verdict as a group.
During the trial, you will be presented with a variety of evidence, including photographs, videos and witness statements. Some juries are required to leave the court in order to look at locations of crimes or live re-enactments.
What else do I need to know?
You will get regular breaks from the court, including a lunch. You are also supported by a court usher in case you have any concerns. Your travel costs will also be reimbursed, as sometimes the court you are required to report to is further than you would usually travel.
There may be a lot of waiting around if you haven’t been selected for a trial, so it’s a good idea to bring a book to read to keep you entertained!