If you are called for jury service in Scotland it will be to serve at a criminal trial, but you may be called to serve at a civil trial.
Criminal trials take place in either the High Court or the sheriff court depending on the seriousness of the crime. Civil trials take place in the Court of Session.
Potential jurors are chosen at random from the electoral roll register. It is a duty required of most people since in Scotland that when a person is charged with a serious crime they may have the question of guilt decided, not by a Judge, but by fellow members of the public.
The service given by those who attend as jurors is an essential part of the administration of the Scottish criminal law system
This guidance explains what to expect if you are called for jury service to serve at a criminal trial taking place in either the High Court or the sheriff court depending on the seriousness of the crime.
For the most up to date information on Jury Service (Criminal Cases) in Scotland visit The Scottish Courts Website
Jury Service Civil Cases – Court of Session
In Scotland if you are called for jury service it will commonly be to serve at a criminal trial, but you can be called to serve at a civil trial.
This guidance deals with potential Juror’s attending civil cases which take place in the Court of Session.
The Court of Session is Scotland's supreme civil court and sits in Parliament House in Edinburgh. The Court is divided into the Outer House and the Inner House. The Outer House is the junior part of the Court of Session and is a court of first instance and consists of 22 Lords Ordinary sitting alone or, in certain cases, with a civil jury.
The Inner House is an appeal court for civil cases as well as a court of first instance.
A court of first instance is a court in which trials take place and a Court of appeal is where the process for requesting a formal change to an official decision is made
Who can be selected for Jury Service in the Court of Session
You may be asked to do Jury Service if:
• You will be at least 18 years old on the date that you start your jury service;
• You are registered as a parliamentary or local government elector;
• You have lived in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for any period of at least 5 years since you were 13 years old.
Some individuals may not qualify or be excused from Jury Service
See the link below for a directory of individuals excused from Jury Service:
Do you qualify for Jury Service?
If you are being considered for jury service, you will receive two legal documents; a notice to potential jurors then some time later a jury citation.
Notice to potential jurors
The notice to potential jurors tells you that you may be called for jury service at some time in the near future.
If you have personal or business commitments, or if you have already entered into holiday arrangements which would cause abnormal inconvenience, difficulty or expense to cancel, the court will consider a request for excusal. However if, exceptionally, your request is granted, it is likely that a further jury citation will be sent out to you at a later date. Requests for excusal can only be made personally i.e. they cannot be made on your behalf by relatives, colleagues, or employers etc and should be made in writing.
If you suffer from any medical condition or ailment which may make it difficult or impossible for you to perform service as a juror adequately e.g. if you are very hard of hearing, or if you have very poor eyesight, you should contact the court immediately. You may be asked to produce a medical certificate.
You should receive this document, approximately four weeks prior to the trial date.
It will give you information on where and when to attend the court. The citation should also include information on details of current allowances, the claim form for allowances and details of the jurors' court helpline.
Where do I report to?
Cases are heard in one of the courtrooms in the Court of Session, which is located in Parliament Square, Edinburgh, just behind St Giles Cathedral. You should enter by door No 11 and report to the reception desk; from there you will be directed to the appropriate courtroom.
There is no car parking facilities for jurors. The majority of the surrounding streets are 'yellow lined'. If you have to travel by car due to a disability you should contact the Court immediately. If you choose to travel by car, you must make your own parking arrangements. Please allow sufficient time to do so as it is important that you reach the courtroom on time. Parking charges cannot be reclaimed.
How long will I be required to attend court?
It is impossible to say how long you may have to serve as a juror: most cases last less than a week. Some cases have lots of witnesses and this obviously means they will last longer than others. The evening (Monday) before you are due to attend Court it is ESSENTIAL to telephone - free of charge - the juror's update line 0800 731 9060.
The court usually sits from around 10.00 am until 4.00 PM, breaking for lunch. Occasionally, it may have to sit later. You will be able to return home each evening. Lunch will be provided, but you will not normally be permitted to leave the courthouse during the lunch interval. Persons attending court need to ensure that they arrive in good time at the beginning of each day as proceedings cannot begin until all jurors have taken their place in the jury box.
When you arrive at court the Clerk of Court will check that all persons due to appear for jury service are present.
If you do not attend court you may be fined.
Sometimes parties involved in the case may settle their dispute out of Court prior to hearing. In these situations it is no longer necessary to select a jury. Cases are often settled at the last minute and although this may cause inconvenience to potential witnesses, jurors etc, there is nothing the court can do about it. If the dispute is not settled, the case goes ahead and a jury is chosen from the people who have attended court for jury service.
How is the jury selected?
Once it is known that the case is ready to proceed, the Clerk of Court will place slips of paper containing the names of all the potential jurors in a glass bowl. The Clerk will then draw 12 names at random and call out each name. If your name is called out, you should come forward and take your seat in the jury box.
Objections to jurors.
During the selection of the jury, each side in the case has a right to object to a maximum of 4 of the names without giving a reason. Objections may be made for many reasons, for example, to keep a balance between male and female jurors, or to ensure that various age groups are represented. If your name is called out, you should not be worried and remain seated. If you have already entered the jury box, return to your original seat in court.
If you are not chosen, because your name was not called out by the Clerk of Court, or your name was objected to, you will be released from jury service and told how to claim expenses etc. However, you should not leave the courtroom until told by the Judge that you may do so.
Knowledge of the case
Following selection to serve on the jury, the Clerk of Court will give you a written statement describing what issues the jury are to decide. The clerk will ask whether you have any interest to declare. This means if you think you may have personal knowledge of the case, for example, if you know one of the parties or if you work for the same employer, you should tell the Clerk of Court immediately. It will then be for the Judge to decide whether you can serve as a juror.
The Clerk of Court then administers the oath. If you object to being sworn, you may affirm instead.
Affirming means that you make a non religious promise before the court that you will well and truly try the case and reach a true verdict on the evidence presented
What kind of case will be tried?
You and your fellow jury members are being called upon to try a civil case. Civil cases are different from criminal trials. In civil cases, the Court is asked to settle a dispute between 2 or more parties as to their respective legal rights and duties. The party who raises the action is known as the Pursuer. The person against whom the action is brought is called the Defender. There are many types of civil action. A typical example is where a Pursuer seeks damages from a Defender for injuries sustained in an accident. The Pursuer will try to establish that the accidents, and therefore their injuries, were caused by the fault or negligence of the Defender. If the Pursuer succeeds, he or she may be entitled to receive damages (i.e. compensation) from the Defender.
What is my role and the role of the Jury?
Your role as part of the Jury is to decide the issue or issues which are put to you, having heard and considered the facts according to the evidence.
As a member of the Jury you should pay careful attention to all the evidence, since the verdict must be based on the evidence and nothing else. Note taking is allowed. The Jury, as a whole, should remain attentive at all times to the evidence being put forward.
If you become unfit / ill during the Trial
Once the trial has started, if you become unwell overnight, or over a weekend and cannot return to court, you should contact the court as soon as possible.
What is the role of the judge?
The Judge is in charge of all proceedings in the courtroom and is responsible for advising you on all matters of law which affect the case.
When a matter of law has to be decided, it will normally be done by the Judge alone. Where a point of law is to be argued, the Judge may direct the jury to leave the courtroom for a short time while this is taking place.
What happens next?
Counsel (Queen's Counsel or an Advocate: very senior lawyers) representing the Pursuer will make an opening speech outlining the Pursuer's case. At the end of this speech, the Pursuer's evidence is heard. Evidence may be either:
• what witnesses say under oath in the witness box; or
• certain documents or exhibits (known as productions) which the Judge may admit as evidence.
When the evidence for the Pursuer has been heard, counsel for the Defender will normally make an opening speech and then call witnesses or "production evidence".
Witnesses are examined (i.e. questioned) on oath first by the counsel for the party calling them and may be referred to as evidence in chief; then cross-examined by counsel for the other party or parties; finally they may be re-examined by the first counsel. On some occasions, the Judge may ask questions to clear up any mis understandings or doubts which have arisen in the evidence. Each witness is examined in turn. All of the parties to the action are entitled to lead evidence.
After all the evidence has been heard each counsel will usually make a closing speech to the jury, emphasising the points of the evidence which they wish jurors to particularly note. After the closing speeches, it is the duty of the presiding Judge to charge the jury. The charge gives the Judge the opportunity of reviewing the evidence which has been led and giving the jury other information to assist them in coming to their decision. The jury are masters of the facts, and it is their task to assess the credibility i.e. the general truthfulness and accuracy of what the witnesses have said under oath and the overall strength of the evidence. The Judge leaves the ultimate decision upon the facts entirely to the jury, but lays down the particular principles of law which apply to the case. The jury then retire to the jury room to consider their verdict.
The verdict is then delivered before the Court and entered in the court record by the clerk
Secrecy during the trial
Throughout the trial no member of the jury may discuss the case with anyone except fellow jurors and then only in the jury room. It should be remembered that it is a contempt of court, punishable by imprisonment or a fine, for a juror to discuss any particulars of statements made, opinions expressed, arguments advanced or votes cast by members of a jury in the course of their discussions even after the trial has ended. It is also a contempt of court for any person to make any enquiries into a Jury’s decision. Any such approaches should be reported to the Police or the Clerk of Court.
Following the trial a member of staff will be in attendance to assist in completion of any claim for travelling expenses and compensation for loss of earnings
Claiming Jury expenses
You are not paid for jury service. However, if being away from your work means that you will lose pay, or if you have to pay a substitute to do your job, or if you incur any other necessary expense such as for childminding, you will be reimbursed subject to a maximum daily amount. When you receive your jury citation it will contain details of the current allowances. Any travelling expenses will also be reimbursed. Claims should be made at the end of your period of jury service. The Clerk of Court will tell you how this is done: payment is normally made by cheque sent to your home. You will receive the cheque within 7 to 10 days from receipt of the claim. In exceptional circumstances payment can be made in cash.
Applying for Expenses - Jury Service Scotland Civil Cases