Jury service is an important part of the judicial system in the UK, and most of us will either know someone who has done jury service or done it themselves.
But what happens if you are called to be involved in jury service? Can you refuse? Do you get time off work? Will you be financially reimbursed? There are many myths and misconceptions when it comes to serving on a jury, so the experts at The University of Law have answered some of the most common questions; from what happens when you get your letter, to the ins and outs of spending time in the courtroom.
How will I know I’ve been summoned?
You will first receive notice of summons through the post, which means you will be needed for jury duty. If you receive this letter, the first thing to know is that you should not ignore it. You must reply to the summons within seven days of receiving it, or you could face a £1,000 fine. Once you have received this letter you can either defer your attendance for another time or confirm attendance.
What if I can’t make it?
When you have been summoned for jury duty, it might not always be the best timing. Holidays, childcare and work can make it difficult to take the necessary time out of your day-to-day life. You do have an option to defer your jury service, but this can only be done once, and you need sufficient proof that you need to defer it. So, when you are requested for jury service, it is something that can’t be avoided in the long-term.
Do I get paid?
During jury service, you are unable to attend your day-to-day job, which may leave you wondering how you will get paid during this period. Depending on the level of severity, some cases can last for long periods of time. However, during jury duty you do not get paid like a regular job, instead you can claim back expenses for food and travel.
Most employers will pay employees their standard salary or wage whilst on jury duty, but this is not a requirement. If you are not paid by your employer for jury service, you can claim for 'loss of earnings' but this will not necessarily match your usual wage. The best approach is to ensure that you speak to your employer as soon as you are summoned to jury duty, so that you can prepare for any potential financial shortfalls.
How much will I be reimbursed?
The level of reimbursement is totally dependent on the length of time that you are needed at court and how long the case takes. The amount you can claim per day for food expenses is £5.71 for up to 10 hours, and £12.17 for anything over 10 hours. If you will be taking public transport, your expenses will be paid in full when you have provided the court with your travel ticket. If you will be driving to and from the court, you will be provided with 31.4p per mile for petrol costs.
The amount you can claim for loss of earnings depends on the length of time in court and how many hours per day you are there, but it starts from £32.47 and the maximum amount is £228.06.
Can I speak to anyone about the case?
When taking part in jury service you may have friends and family who will want to know the details of your case, especially if it is a high profile one. However, when taking part in jury service you are unable to talk about the case while the trial is ongoing, except with other jurors in the deliberations room. If you do, you could be faced with a fine and even jail time. Once the trial has ended you can speak about what happened in the courtroom but are still not allowed to speak with anyone about what was said in the deliberations room. So, if you are involved in jury service – bite your tongue if you are tempted to talk about the case, as you could end up in serious trouble.
How long can I expect it to go on for?
Every person will have a different experience when they are involved in jury duty, as no trial will be the same and no jury will be made up of the same people. This does mean that predicting how long you will be taking part in jury service is almost impossible, however it typically lasts up to two weeks. With that said, if you end up on the jury of a particularly difficult or high-profile case, you could be on jury duty for several months.
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