Know your rights: What happens if you’re called for jury service?

February 25th, 2023 5:50 PM

By Southern Star Team

You have the right to be excused from jury service if you are aged 65 or over or if you are a teacher or university lecturer. (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. 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. 

• 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

• 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:

• 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 ten years

• Are living in Ireland but are not an Irish citizen

Who has a right to be excused from jury service?

You have the right to be excused from jury service if you:

• Are aged 65 or over

• Are a member of either House 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

• Provide an important community service, such as a practising doctor, nurse, midwife, dentist, vet or chemist

• 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

In some cases, people with the following jobs can be excused, however in these cases you must provide certification that your role cannot be postponed or reasonably performed by another person:

• Member of staff of either House of the Oireachtas

• Head of a government department

• Civil servant

• Chief executive officer or employee of a local authority

• Health Service Executive (HSE) employee

• Harbour authority employee

• School teacher

• University lecturer

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

Other offences

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

• Making (or causing to be made) any 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 using the form and pre-paid envelope provided. If you have a right to be excused from jury service, you must state this on the form provided.

If you want to be excused for another reason (such as illness), you must state that reason on the form 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 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. 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.

Can my employer refuse to release me for jury service?

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. 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.

Does everyone called for jury service serve on a jury?

No. Even though you are called for jury service, you may not actually serve on a jury. Usually more people are called for jury service than are needed. 

You must return to court each day, whether or not you are sworn onto a jury panel, unless the court tells you to do otherwise.

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