Friday 21 June 2024

7 Things You Need to Know About Jury Service (UK)

Been summoned for jury service and not sure what to expect? Then this is the blog post for you. I recently did jury service and thought I'd share everything I now know so you can be prepared! Don't worry too much though, you will receive a booklet in the post closer to the time of your summons to cover everything, including the best way to get to the court you specifically will be going to.

I did my jury service at Maidstone Crown Court and overall it was a pleasant experience, all the staff I met were really friendly - even the super tall, buff, gruff security guard!

You Can Wear Anything

You might think you have to dress super smart for court - like you're going for an interview - but no, you don't. Jeans, t-shirt, dresses, leggings, literally whatever. Younger ones turned up in tracksuits most days and had no complaints. As long as it's respectable, they're not bothered. Although no headwear, unless it's for religious reasons. Throughout the week I wore jeans, dresses and Vans and was quite comfortable.

 You Will Be Searched

This might be obvious but your bag will be searched upon entering the building and they do require you to take a sip of your drink(s) - even if they're still sealed. I did actually ask what they were looking for in the drinks after a few days. Turns out its acid or flammable fluids. 

You Will Be Waiting Around, A Lot

I arrived at court at around 8:30am which, due to train times, was still 45 minutes before I actually needed to be there for. Once we were taken into jury reception, we were given an expenses form to fill in with your name, address and bank details. This you get to take home with you and fill in the rest regarding travel and food expenses. After that, it was a waiting game.

I was one of the lucky ones, and was called into a court room around 11:30am to be selected - or not - for the jury. Some people were still waiting 3+ days later to be called on. I would definitely recommend taking some form of entertainment! I had my phone, a book which I finished in two days, and I ended up buying a Sudoku puzzle book.

Take Plenty of Food & Fluids

They do provide a jug of water in court and there is a cafe available but it just works out cheaper to take your own. The most I spent in one day on food/drink was £8.30 and they only reimburse you £5-something! Although if you have to travel by public transport, it is annoying lugging a bag full of food and books around.

You Will Have to Take an Oath or Affirmation

Once you're called upon as a juror, you have to take an oath or affirmation to promise to give a fair hearing or something, I honestly can't remember the wording now but you're given a card to read off anyway.

You Can Take Notes

They provide you with pen and paper to make notes throughout the case, which you then take with you into deliberation along with the other pieces of evidence. 

Going Into Deliberation

This is where the real fun begins. This is the only time you are allowed to speak freely about the case and it discuss it together as a group and get your verdict. You will be taken into what is essentially a meeting room. Your phone and other devices (including smart watches) will be seized and then you will be left in that one room (with toilets) until you either come to a verdict or the judge calls you back into court to dismiss you for the day. Deliberation can take a matter of hours or multiple days depending on the case/how quickly you agree, so make sure you're taking food and fluids with you when you know you're going into deliberation! You should be pre-warned a day or two beforehand depending on how the case is going and how many witnesses there are etc.

I hope you found this helpful! If you do still have questions when you get there, do not hesitate to ask! They will also explain the rundown of the process throughout but in my experience, they were happy to answer any additional questions. Good luck with your jury service!

I will be publishing a more detailed account of my experience soon if you want to come back to check that out!

Until next time,
Saph x

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