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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: What happens when I am called for jury service?

March 2nd, 2024 10:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

If you are selected to serve on a jury, you and the other jurors will hear the evidence in the case, and then as a group you will decide if the accused person is guilty of an offence. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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JURY service is when you are instructed to attend court with other members of the public, so the court can select people to sit on juries for upcoming court cases.

Even though you are called for jury service, you may not actually serve on a jury. If you are selected to serve on a jury, you and the other jurors will hear the evidence in the case, and then decide if the accused person is guilty of an offence. 

You have an obligation to attend for jury service if you are called to do so. You will be contacted by summons of the County Registrar, and the summons will state that you are obliged to attend for jury service on a particular date.

Who is eligible for jury service?

If you are an Irish citizen aged 18 and over, and are on the Register of Electors you are eligible for jury service, unless you are involved in any way with the administration of justice (e.g. judge, Garda, solicitor),  have, or had, a mental illness or mental disability and because of this are staying in a hospital or similar institution, or regularly attend treatment with a medical practitioner; or you are unable to read or have a long-term impairment that means it is not practical for you to serve on a jury. 

Who is disqualified from jury service?

You are disqualified from jury service if you are living in Ireland but are not an Irish citizen.

You are also disqualified from jury service if you have been convicted of a serious offence in Ireland; have ever been sentenced to five years or more in prison; have been sentenced to three months or more in prison in the last 10 years

Who has a right to be excused from jury service?

You have the right to be excused from jury service if you are aged over 65; are a memver of the Oireachtas; a member of the Council of State, the Comptroller and Auditor General, a Clerk of Dáil Éireann or Seanad Éireann, in Holy Orders, a minister of any religious denomination or community, a member of a monastery or convent, an aircraft pilot, a full-time student or a ship’s master. You have a right to be excused if you provide an important community service, such as a practicing doctor, nurse, midwife, dentist, vet or chemist; or have served on a jury in the last three years, or have been excused by a judge for a certain amount of time after a previous period of jury service.

Other jobs can be excused provided special certification is produced, including Oireachtas staff, civil servants, harbour authority employees HSE employees, school teachers, university lecturers.

What happens if I don’t attend for jury service?

Under the Juries Act 1976, you can be fined for:

Failing to attend for jury service without a reasonable excuse

Being unavailable when called to serve as a juror

Being unfit for service by reason of drink or drugs

You can also be fined for other offences in relation to jury service, including:

Making (or causing to be made) false representations

Serving on a jury knowing you are ineligible or disqualified

Giving false or misleading answers to the judge about your qualification for jury service

Making (or causing to be made) any false representations about a person summoned as a juror so they don’t have to do jury service

How is a jury selected?

Jurors are contacted by summons of the County Registrar. You must reply to the jury summons. You can do this online by visiting jury.courts.ie or by using the QR code on the summons. You can also reply by post using the form and pre-paid envelope provided. If you have a right to be excused from jury service, you must state this when you respond to the summons.

If you want to be excused for another reason (such as illness), you must state that reason when you reply to the summons and enclose any certificates or documents in support of your application. The County Registrar will decide if you can be excused, or not.

Is there a payment for jury service?

You are not paid for jury service and travelling expenses are not allowed. If you are actually serving as a juror, lunch will be provided on the day or days of the trial.

If you are self-employed and work alone and your attendance at jury service means you cannot earn a living, you may qualify to be excused from jury service. You should contact the jury office of the court for more information.

If you are signing on for a Jobseeker’s payment you will continue to be paid, but you should advise your local social welfare office that you have been called for jury service.

What happens if I am employed?

If you are in employment, your employer must let you attend jury service. Time spent on jury service should be treated as if the employee were actually employed. In other words, if you are in employment and are attending for jury service, you are entitled to be paid while you are away from work. If you have a contract of employment, for example, (temporary workers or contract workers) you are entitled to be paid by your employer while you are on jury service. There should also be no loss of any other employment rights while you serve on a jury. You can request a certificate from the jury office to confirm your attendance at jury service.

If you feel your employment rights have been infringed or you have lost employment rights while serving on a jury, you can make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission using the online complaint form available on workplacerelations.ie. You can contact your local CIC for information.

For further information call a member of the local Citizens Information Service in West Cork on 0818 07 8390. They will be happy to assist you and if necessary arrange an appointment for you. The offices are staffed from 10am-5pm from Monday to Thursday and on Friday from 10am-4pm. 

Alternatively you can email [email protected] or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie

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