What does it mean to receive a summons for Jury Service?
If you receive a summons, you are obliged to attend Royal Court on the date stated in the Summons, to sit as a member of the jury, for the duration of the trial. Trials can last for different lengths of time and you will be expected to attend court every day until the trial is finished. If the trial is expected to be lengthy, you are likely to be given warning of this.
If you do not attend Royal Court, your arrest will be ordered and once found, you will be taken to court to explain yourself. The Judge is able to fine or even imprison you for your non-attendance.
Having attended Court, will I definitely sit on the Jury?
No not necessarily. The Viscount warns more people than necessary to attend so that a jury of 12 can ultimately sit to hear the trial. During the selection process, the lawyers have the opportunity to object to you sitting (for example if you are a friend or relative). You will also be given the opportunity to look through the list of witnesses who will give evidence during the trial and you may feel that you know one of these witnesses. Depending on the nature of that relationship, you may not be able to sit
If I receive a summons for Jury Service do I have to do it?
Unless you can satisfy the Viscount that you should be exempted, or, in the event that he does not agree with you, unless you can satisfy the Royal Court that you should be exempted, then yes, you do have to do it.
Certain people are entitled to exemption as of right, by virtue of the Loi 1864 Law sur la procedure criminelle. This Law on criminal procedure is still on the books in French, hence the French name. The full list of professionals who are entitled to exemption as of right is set out at Article 9. Some of those are: advocates, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, post office employees, customs officers, police officers and members of the clergy.
Even if you are an individual who is entitled to exemption as of right, you must not however, ignore the Summons for Jury Service. You must make a written application to the Viscount because he will not necessarily know that you fall into one of these categories. He will then send you a certificate of exemption to be granted which means that you have been formally released from attendance.
Unless you receive a certificate of exemption, you must still go to Royal Court to answer the Summons.
Does the Viscount have a discretion to grant an exemption for another reason?
Yes, the Viscount has a discretion to grant an exemption in such circumstances as he thinks fit. It must be remembered though that Jury Service is considered to be a civic duty. Without the existence of a jury, part of the justice system would collapse and these important factors will always be considered along with any issues that you raise with the Viscount. He is only therefore likely to grant a discretionary exemption in exceptional circumstances where insistence on attendance would give rise to particular hardship or difficulty.
The sorts of situations in which the Viscount may grant a discretionary exemption are:
This list is not definitive or exhaustive.
If you believe that you have grounds for seeking exemption you should write to the Principal Enforcement Officer setting out the grounds of your application or telephone the department for advice.
You will either receive a formal certificate releasing you from attendance or a letter rejecting your application. If the Viscount has rejected your application, you will have the opportunity to speak to the Judge at the beginning of an Assize.
Can anyone be on a jury?
Provided you are between the ages of 25 and 65, you can sit on a jury unless you fall into one of the following categories:
If you are currently charged with a criminal offence, or under arrest.
What happens if I am ill?
You can also apply to the Viscount to be exempted if you are suffering from a temporary infirmity that renders you incapable of serving.
What about if English isn’t my first language?
If you do not understand English well enough to serve on a jury you can be exempted by the Viscount.
What happens if my employer does not want me to do Jury Service?
You should talk to the Viscount. If it is the case that you, your employer or customers will suffer particular hardship by virtue of you doing Jury Service, then the Viscount may well be able to exempt you under his discretion.
If your employer is simply annoyed at the inconvenience caused to him or her by virtue of your Jury Service, it is unlikely you would be exempted. Jury Service is an important civic duty and should your employer be unwise enough to take any negative action against you because of your appointment, it is unlikely that he would find support in the employment tribunal.
If you have any questions about jury service, please don’t hesitate to contact me on 01534 630530