What Should I Expect from Jury Service?

Over 18 and been selected for jury service? Here’s what to expect.

How are jurors chosen?

Jurors are selected at random and can be called to sit on the jury for criminal trials, in either Court of High Court, for Civil Cases in the Court of Session, or the All Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court. In a Scottish criminal trial, the jury is made up of 15 people. Those 15 will be chosen from the larger number summoned.

For more information on jury duty and the court process visit the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website.

You must do jury service if asked and it will usually be in a Court close to where you live. When asked to be on a jury you’ll get a legal document called a jury citation, usually three to nine weeks before the trial date. It will give you information about where and when to attend the court. You must respond to the jury citation by going to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website. You must provide your contact phone number and date of birth. If you don’t have internet access, you can phone the court that cited you. You may be fined if you don’t respond to the citation. 

After 5pm the day before you have been cited to attend, you should call the jury attendance update line number provided in your Jury citation. 

You must call this number as it will provide you with up-to-date information about your jury service. You may be asked to call the jury attendance update number a few times throughout the week, so you should listen carefully to the message.

Are there exemptions?

You must serve on the jury if selected, unless;

  • you are disqualified,
  • have the right to be excused, or 
  • you have a valid reason to be excused. 

Find out more about eligibility and excusals on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website.

How long does it last?

The length of trials can vary. The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service says that jury service is unlikely to last for more than a week, but this depends on a few things – a trial with a lot of witnesses will usually take longer than a trial with fewer. Cases that take longer than a week are more likely to be in the High Court, but this can also happen in the Sheriff Court.

What about my job?

Your employer must give you time off to take part in jury service, however, you can ask to delay the service if your absence will have a serious effect on business. As soon as you are summoned you should give your letter confirming your jury service to your employer.

What about my pay?

You won’t be paid for jury service but you may be reimbursed, subject to a maximum daily amount, for:

  • the cost of transport to court
  • subsistence (this is the extra cost of food and drink you buy while attending court)
  • loss of earnings or benefits
  • the extra cost of childminding or babysitting
  • the extra cost of caring for a dependent adult. 

Your employer may agree to carry on paying you, however, if they don’t you can claim loss of earnings from the court. To get this your employer must fill out a certificate of loss of earnings. You can apply to an employment tribunal if you have been unreasonably refused time off for jury service. If you have been sacked for doing jury service you can claim unfair dismissal.

Can I defer jury service?

You can delay jury service if you:

  • have a holiday booked, or
  • if you’re having an operation.

To defer your jury service you will have to show the court some proof of your reason.

Can I discuss the trial?

It is important that you don’t discuss the case you are on the jury for, except with other members of the jury in the jury deliberation room.

It may be tempting to talk about the case if it is interesting but you should avoid posting about the trial on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, even after the case has finished. This is contempt of court and could result in you being fined or sent to prison.

More Information

Visit the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website.

Find out how else the law affects you.

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