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Thursday, 6 January 2011

Serving as a juror

Jury service is an important public duty. Around 200,000 people perform this duty each year. Jurors are randomly selected by a computer from the electoral register. They decide the outcome of trials in Crown Courts. Find out what to expect if you are called to serve as a juror.

What a jury is

A jury consists of 12 members of the public, who decide whether someone accused of a crime is innocent or guilty. Jurors usually try the more serious crimes, like murder, rape, assault, burglary or fraud.

Who is selected for jury service

You may be called for jury service if you:

  • are at least 18 years old, and under 70 years old, when your jury service would start
  • are listed on the electoral register
  • have lived in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for any period of at least five years since you were 13 years old

Replying to a jury summons

If you are selected to serve as a juror, you'll receive a 'jury summons'. This tells you the time and date you need to attend court. The summons must be completed and returned to the Jury Central Summoning Bureau within seven days from the day you receive it.

Jury service is a public duty. If you work, your employer must give you time off for it. In some circumstances, you may be able to delay (defer) your jury service or be excused from it. This may be for reasons like a family commitment or for personal or health reasons, eg a mental health condition.

When you have confirmed you can attend, you'll be sent details of how to get to the court and what to expect once you're there. If you would like to receive an email reminder for your jury service five days before it starts, you can register below.

How long jury service lasts

You'll normally be asked to serve for a period of ten working days. If a trial takes longer, you'll be told at court and asked whether this would cause any difficulties for you.

Claiming for loss of earnings and other costs

Jury service is unpaid, as it's a public duty rather than a job. While you are on jury service you can claim an allowance for:

  • financial loss, eg pay or benefits
  • travel
  • subsistence, eg lunch, refreshments

You'll receive information about the amount you can claim with your 'jury summons'.

Your first day of jury service

Watch a film explaining the role of a juror

On your first day of jury service, you will be shown a 20 minute film called 'Your role as a juror'. It explains your role and responsibilities as a juror and what happens in the courtroom.

You can watch the 'Your role as a juror' film online in advance of your jury service, if you wish to.

What happens in court

You'll wait in the jury waiting area until a court official calls your name to attend a trial. 15 jurors will be called from the waiting area and taken into the court. The court clerk will randomly select the names of 12 of them - and these people will form the jury. If you're chosen, you'll need to take the oath or make an affirmation. This is a promise that you'll listen to the case carefully and give a fair verdict.

Evidence will then be presented and witnesses from both the prosecution and the defence will be questioned. Once all the evidence has been presented, you will leave the court with the other jurors to discuss the evidence and decide on a verdict.

Further questions and arranging a pre-court visit

If you have any questions about jury service, you can contact the Jury Central Summoning Bureau on:

If you have any questions relating to the court where you'll serve as a juror, you should contact the court directly. Court staff can offer advice if you have a disability, special needs or would like to visit the court before your jury service starts.

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