Jury Service for PA Employers and PAs
Jury service is an important public duty. The role of the jury, is to reach a verdict in a Court case, having heard and considered the facts according to the evidence and the instructions given by the judge. There are 15 people in a criminal jury trial and 12 in a civil jury trial.
Jurors are selected at random from the electoral register and can be cited for criminal trials (in the sheriff court or the High Court) or for civil cases in the Court of Session or the All-Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court.
How does Jury Service affect PA Employers and PAs?
It is possible that both a PA Employer and a PA could be called up for Jury Service. If your name is on the Electoral Register, there is a chance you could be called up.
Anyone called for Jury Service will be expected to attend the Court, unless there is a good reason why they can’t. It is not a question of whether you want to serve in a Jury or not, this is a requirement for anyone selected (unless you meet one of the reasons outlined below, such as you’re over the age of 70).
If you are a PA Employer, you may need support to attend the Court if you are called up and you might want your PA to support you with this. If your PA is called up, you may need to arrange replacement care and support, either from another PA if you have one, or from a agency.
As a PA, you may need to take time off work to undertake Jury Service and you will need to inform your employer about this. This may affect your earnings for the period of time you are on Jury Service, unless your employer gives you holiday leave, or any additional leave for specific circumstances like Jury Service.
It is important for both PA Employers and PAs to be aware of a number of issues when called up for Jury Service, including what the rules are, how you can request to be excused from Jury Service and what to expect when you attend Court.
How will you know if you’ve been called for Jury Service?
If you’re selected for Jury Service, you’ll receive a Summons about 10 days before the first day you’re due in court. You must respond to your Jury Summons within 7 days of getting it.
The Jury Summons tells you the court, date and time at which you have to be there.
You can either:
- reply to the Jury Summons online
- complete and return the form by post
You can be fined up to £1,000 if you do not return the form or do not turn up for your Jury Service.
Before attending Court
After 5pm, the day before you are due to attend Court as a Juror, you must ring the ‘Jury attendance update line’, which is the number provided in your Jury citation. A recorded message will provide you with up to date information about your jury service. You may need to call this number several times throughout the week, so it is important that you listen carefully to the message.
What happens when you arrive at Court?
Whilst you have been cited for Jury service, the actual Jurors who will take part in the case still need to be chosen. This is called the Balloting of Jurors:
For criminal trials
Balloting the jury is done in advance without the jurors being present. Only the 15 jurors balloted to participate, plus a small number of substitutes, will attend for the trial, with each jury being supported by a court officer.
For civil jury trials
Balloting the jury is done on the first day of the trial. All cited civil jurors should attend the court for balloting. The jury will be supported by a court officer.
Eligibility and excusal from Jury service
If you would like to apply for excusal from Jury service, you should review the information provided in the ‘Guide to Eligibility and Excusal’ in the resources below.
The guide sets out who is entitled to request to be excused from Jury service, as this is possible in certain, specific circumstances. If you wish to apply for excusal on the basis of ill-health (COVID-19 or non-COVID-19) or physical disability, then you must enclose a medical certificate along with your application for excusal. This can normally be obtained free of charge from your GP.
If you wish to apply for excusal due to another special reason, for example:
- commitments at work
- holiday plans which would be difficult or expensive to rearrange
- you can ask to be excused from jury service if you’re over 70 years old
You should provide evidence to support your request, for example a holiday booking confirmation or letter from your employer. Applications for excusals are dealt with sympathetically by the courts, however, it must be understood that in some circumstances, the court may not be able to excuse individuals.
PAs will need to ask their PA employer for a letter if they wish to request to be excused from Jury service due to commitments at work.
If you are a disabled person, or have accessibility or support requirements, please contact the court on receipt of your citation to discuss what arrangements can be made for you.
In most courthouses there will also be access for those with mobility impairments. Courtrooms generally are sound-enhanced and some have the Baker Sound Induction Loop (SIL) or Phonic Ear System fitted for the benefit of those with hearing difficulties.
If you feel that, due to illness or disability, you could not follow the evidence, you should inform the court before the date stated on your jury citation by completing the application for exemption or excusal from jury service. You must also provide a medical certificate. If your doctor considers your condition is long term or unlikely to change, please ask your doctor to include this information in your medical certificate.
Medical certificates which are requested from GPs for the purpose of Jury service are exempt from payment. This is in terms of The National Health Service (General Medical Services Contracts) (Scotland) Regulations 2018. You should therefore tell the GP surgery of the purpose of the certificate. If you have any difficulty in getting the certificate free of charge you should refer the surgery to these regulations.
You can find a range of guides to Jury service in the resources below.