Jury service is a duty you can’t escape
Q I HAVE just received a letter saying I must do jury service. One of my friends did this and said it was weeks out of her life. And horrible. So I don’t want to do it. How can I get out of this? Sheila C
A THE quick answer is you can’t. Jury service is an obligation. Roughly one in three get a jury summons in their lifetime some more than once.
You can ask to delay (or defer) your summons if you have a holiday booked, or you are having an operation or serious medical procedure, or if your employer refuses you time off work. But you can only defer once. You must let the jury summoning bureau know and tell it when, roughly, would be more convenient.
The system randomly picks from voting registers. If you are over
75 on the day you are due to start, you won’t have to do it. Equally, you must have lived in the UK, Channel Island or Isle of Man for at least five years.
If you now live permanently abroad, you are likely to be excused. You can also be excused if you believe you will be physically or mentally incapable of serving. You might have to produce a medical certificate. Some courts are modern with disability provisions for jurors. But not all.
You will be disqualified from jury service if you have committed a serious criminal offence or if you lack mental capacity.
There is no guarantee of the length of a trial but generally you will be asked if you are happy with longer than two weeks – most criminal trials last a few days but some, particularly fraud cases, can go on for months.
You can claim for travel expenses – 31.4p per mile for a car or motorbike, 9.6p per mile for a bicycle or your actual bus or train fares. You get a daily allowance – usually £5.71. And if you suffer financial loss – not being able to earn, having to pay carers or child minders – you can generally claim £64.95 a day, rising to £129.91 after 10 days.
Ignoring the summons produces a £1,000 fine.