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When summoned for jury service a person is legally obliged to attend, unless there are compelling reasons why they are unable to. A fine of £1,000 can be levied if the summons form is not returned of if the potential juror fails to turn up for their jury service. The jury service will be as close to the juror’s home as possible. There is no payment for carrying out jury service but compensation can be paid, in the form of travel and food expenses and potential loss of earnings.
Who is eligible for jury duty?
Eligibility for jury service is governed by the Juries Act 1974.
The Guide to Jury Summons sets out who is qualified for jury service. To qualify for taking part in jury service, a person must:
- be at least 18, and under 76, years of age
- have registered as a parliamentary or local government elector
- have lived in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for any period of at least five years since they were 13 years old
Who is ineligible?
Section 1 of the 1974 Act provides that anyone who is “disqualified” from jury service is not eligible to serve. Schedule 1 to the 1974 Act – “Ineligibility and disqualification for and excusal from Jury Service” – lists those people who are disqualified.
One example of disqualified people is “A person who lacks capacity, within the meaning of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, to serve as a juror”. Section 4 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005: Code of Practice provides further details of what “capacity” means.
Another example is those who are currently on bail in criminal proceedings, or who have ever been sentenced to imprisonment, or a term of detention of five years or more.
For full details of the restrictions on those taking part in jury service, see Boxes A and B of the Guide to Jury Summons.
What if I have a disability?
Anyone who receives a jury summons from the Jury Central Summoning Bureau is asked whether they have a “disability or impairment, which will require adjustments or additional assistance to be made for you when carrying out jury service”.
Potential jurors who answer yes are asked to give details of the arrangements or adjustments that they may require in order to perform jury service. If you are disabled and want to see the available facilities, a visit to the court can be arranged.
What are the rules on being deferred/excused?
The expectation is that everyone who has been summoned for jury service will serve at the time for which they are summoned. There will be occasions when a person might not be able to serve during the time for which they are summoned. In such circumstances, those seeking a deferral or excusal must apply to the Jury Central Summoning Bureau and ask for jury service to be deferred or excused altogether.
If deferring jury service, you must state what dates during the next 12 months you will be able to attend so that the Jury Central Summoning Bureau can rearrange the date. You can only defer the date once. If you cannot attend at any point during the following 12 months you should apply to be excused. Please note that this can only be granted in “exceptional circumstances”.
You have a right to be excused from jury service if you have served as a juror, or attended to serve on a jury, during the two years prior to being summoned. If you cannot attend jury service during the 12 months following the date of summons, this must be for exceptional circumstances. You may be asked to provide evidence to verify the claim.
What is the financial compensation?
Your employer must allow you to have time off work to attend jury service although they can ask you to delay your jury service if your absence will be detrimental to business.
Your employer can decide whether to pay you during your absence. If they do not pay you, you can claim for loss of earnings from the court. Travel expenses and parking costs are covered, as well as food and drink. However, there is a limit to how much you can claim per day. For example, for the first 10 days you can claim a maximum of £64.95 per day for over four hours of jury service. The amount increases to £129.91 from day 11 to day 200 for over four hours of jury service. See Loss of earnings and other expenses for full details.
Sources of information
GOV.UK has a guide to jury service on its website. It also provides links to actions such as replying to a jury summons. Overall guidance to jury service is provided by a 12-minute video from Ministry of Justice.
GOV.UK recommends that anyone who needs advice about their summons or jury service contact the Jury Central Summoning Bureau. Their contact details are as follows:
Telephone: 0300 456 1024
Welsh language telephone: 0300 303 5173
Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm
Friday 9am to 3pm
Find out about call charges
Jury Central Summoning Bureau
The Commons Library does not intend the information in this article to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. We have published it to support the work of MPs. You should not rely upon it as legal or professional advice, or as a substitute for it. We do not accept any liability whatsoever for any errors, omissions or misstatements contained herein. You should consult a suitably qualified professional if you require specific advice or information. Read our briefing for information about sources of legal advice and help.