The administration of the Jury System in Northern Ireland is governed by The Juries (NI) Order 1996 and Juries Regulations (NI) 1996.
The Order legislates that it is the responsibility of the Chief Electoral Officer to arrange the selection of a sufficient number of jurors from the register of electors and provide the Juries Officer for each County Court Division with a list of those persons selected who reside in their Division.
Juries are required for hearings at 12 Crown Court Venues within Northern Ireland. They are also required for some civil cases in the Royal Courts of Justice and Coroners cases at varying venues.
The Juries Officers serve the Jury Notices and Forms of Return on every person whose name is included in the list between the end of February and the beginning of March each year.
If the Form of Return is not completed and returned by a prospective juror then a reminder notice is issued approximately 6-10 weeks after the Jury Notice was issued.
The Jury Lists are then divided into panels. Jurors whose names are included in the list will then be summoned by the Juries Office to attend at such court or place specified in the Jury Summons.
Jury Summonses are issued together with a Notice to Accompany a Jury Summons and a Jury Allowance Form. This process normally commences mid-July/early August and continues in accordance with the Crown Court calendar and business requirements until the following June. Belfast calls panels monthly and most other court offices summons jurors every other month. The summonses are sent out 3-5 weeks in advance of the first day of Jury Service.
Jury Panel Numbers
You are liable for Jury Service if you are over 18 and registered as an elector subject to the following exceptions
Not Qualified for jury service
Any person who is on bail in connection with an offence must not serve on a jury in the Crown Court but may serve on a jury in the High Court or a Coroner’s Court.
Disqualified for jury service
The following persons are disqualified from Jury Service and may not serve on a jury in any court.
Any person who has at any time been convicted by a court in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man and sentenced
- to imprisonment for life or for a term of five years or more
- to be detained during Her Majesty’s pleasure or during the pleasure of the Secretary of State or during the pleasure of the Governor of Northern Ireland.
Any person who at any time in the last ten years has in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
- served any part of a sentence of imprisonment or detention
- been detained in a young offenders centre
- has passed on him or (as the case may be) made in respect of him a recorded sentence or imprisonment, a suspended sentence of imprisonment or an order for detention
- had made in respect of him a community service order
Any person who at any time in the last five years has, in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, been placed on probation.
Ineligible for jury service
Below is a list of persons ineligible for Jury Service.
Persons concerned with the Administration of Justice
Persons holding or who have at any time held any paid, judicial or other office belonging to any court of justice in Northern Ireland.
- Justices of the Peace.
- Members of the juvenile court panels.
- The Chairman or President, the Vice-Chairman or Vice-President and the registrar and assistant.
- Registrar of any Tribunal.
- Barristers at law and solicitors whether or not in actual practice as such.
- Solicitors’ clerks.
- Students of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland or of the Law Society of Northern Ireland.
- The Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland and members of his staff.
- Officers of the Northern Ireland Office or of the Lord Chancellor’s Department.
- Members of the Northern Ireland Court Service.
- Court security officers.
Governors, chaplains and other officers of, and members of boards of visitors of visiting committees for, the following establishments
- a prison within the meaning of the Prison Act (Northern Ireland) 1953;
- a juvenile justice centre or attendance centre within the meaning of the Criminal Justice (Children) (Northern Ireland) Order 1998; or
- a remand centre or young offenders centre within the meaning of the Treatment of Offenders Act (Northern Ireland) 1968
- The warden or a member of the staff of a bail hostel as defined in Article 2(2) of the Probation Board (Northern Ireland) Order 1982.
- Members of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland.
- Probation officers and persons appointed to assist them.
- A person appointed for the purposes of Article 7(6) of the Treatment of Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1976.
- Police officers and any other person employed in any capacity by virtue of which he has the powers and privileges of a constable.
- Members and staff of the Policing Board.
- Members of the National Criminal Intelligence Service, members of the Service Authority for the National Criminal Intelligence Service and persons employed by the Authority.
- The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and persons employed by him.
- Persons in charge of, or employed in, a forensic science laboratory.
- Prisoner custody officers within the meaning of section 122(1) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.
- Members and employees of the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
- Persons who at any time within the past ten years have been persons falling within any of the foregoing descriptions (except the first) of persons concerned with the administration of justice.
Excusable from jury service
Below is a list of persons who are excusable from Jury Service as of right.
- Peers and Peeresses entitled to receive writs of summons to attend the House of Lords.
- Members of the House of Commons.
Northern Ireland Assembly
- Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
- Officers and servants of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive
- Members of the Scottish Parliament
- Members of the Scottish Executive
- Junior Scottish Ministers
- Representatives to the European Parliament
- The Assembly Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Complaints.
- Persons in the Northern Ireland Civil Service receiving a salary on a scale the maximum of which is not lower than the maximum of the Grade 5 scale.
- The Chief Electoral Officer and persons appointed to assist him.
- The Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland.
- The Auditor General for Scotland.
- The Secretary and any Director of the Northern Ireland Audit Office.
- Officers employed in any capacity by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise, or Commissioners of Inland Revenue.
- Officers in charge of a head office in Northern Ireland of a department of the Government of the United Kingdom.
- Inspectors of schools.
- Inspectors appointed under section 123 of the Mines Act (Northern Ireland ) 1969.
- A person in Holy Orders and a regular minister of any religious denomination.
- Vowed members of any religious order living in a monastery, convent or other religious community.
- Practising members of a religious society or order the tenets or beliefs of which are incompatible with jury service.
- Professors and members of the teaching staff of a university or institution of further education and fulltime teachers in any school.
- Masters of vessels, duly licensed pilots and lighthouse keepers.
- The following persons, if actually practising their profession and registered (including provisionally or temporarily registered), enrolled or certified under the statutory provisions relating to that profession -
- medical practitioners (as registered with the general medical council);
- veterinary surgeons and veterinary practitioners;
- pharmaceutical chemists.
- Persons aged between 70 years and over.
- Persons aged between 65 and 70 years.
If you are summoned to attend for jury service the Judge has certain powers to defer your service until a later date or to excuse you for that sitting or in respect of a particular trial or period of time if you have a good reason.
You may, if you wish, make an application to defer your service or to be excused for a period of time or in respect of a particular trial.
In particular, the Judge:
(a) must excuse those persons excusable from Jury Service as of right;
(b) may divide the panel of jurors into sections and excuse those in one or more of the sections on specified days;
(c) may excuse a person who applies for excusal for a period of time or in respect of a particular trial if he is satisfied there is good reason;
(d) may defer a person’s service and amend the summons accordingly (but this power may only be exercised once in respect of each jury summons).
It is an offence knowingly to serve on a jury in the Crown Court if you are not qualified for jury service or in any court if you are disqualified for jury service. in either case this is punishable by a fine of up to £5000.
Failure to attend the court on the date and time notified on the summons or leaving the court thereafter without permission is punishable by a fine of up to £1000.