How jury service is selected

28 March 2019

What is Jury service?

When you are called to jury service you will be asked to sit on a trial as a juror and will serve for at least 10 working days. When someone has been charged with illegal activity by the crown prosecution service, they will have to go to court where all the evidence and what has happened will be looked at.

The judge will be present and will oversee everything but a group of 12 people that are randomly selected will decide whether the defendant is guilty or not.

The chances of being selected for jury service will vary depending on where you live. In England and Wales, the chances to be selected are 35% and only half of those people will spend any time in court. In Scotland the chances are particularly high at 95% but only 30% will actually be in court as part of a jury.

The difference in the number is because Scotland juries are usually made up of 15 people while England and Wales juries are made up of 12. Scotland also asks more people per required jury compared to England and Wales.

The Jury selection process

All crown courts are responsible for asking the jurors to hear a case. They will be involved in arranging for the jurors names to be selected from the electoral register. This is an automatic process which is randomly completed by a computer at a central office. The people that are summoned must let the court know ASAP if they are unable to attend. Failure to return the jury summons can result in a £1000 fine.

There are a few selection processes under the Juries Act 1974 that must take place for the jury to be picked. These are:

  • The juror must be aged 18-70
  • They must be a resident in the UK
  • They must be registered to vote
  • They must not have a mental disorder
  • They are unable to participate if they are imprisoned for life.

The parties of a jury trial will have the right to look at the jury list to see whether they would like to make any enquiries about the panel members. A DBS check will also be completed on behalf of the individuals to ensure that the juror is not disqualified from jury duty.

The selected Jurors are divided into groups of 15 and assigned to a court case. The court clerk will decide on 12 jurors out of the 15. If any of the jurors recognise any party that is present then they must inform the court, this could mean that another juror might sit in their place.

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