Jury ser­vice is a duty you can’t es­cape

Gloucestershire Echo - - CASHING IN -

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.

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