Now what is the chance of me being picked out of a hundred people to win a £100,000 I wonder? Not likely I guess, but that could be the pessimist in me!
However, what would be the chance for me to be the only one not to be picked to sit on a jury for a Court case out of approximately 100 jurors? Also not likely I guess but here I sit whilst my new friends have all taken part in at least one case or more!
An ‘invite’ to attend jury service is sent to over 200,000 people each year. At the age of 56 I presumed I had got away with it unlike my sister who has been called three times to date. It is drawn purely at random to get a cross section of the public in order to ensure that a defendant (those on trial) get a fair and proper hearing. So if you are between the ages of 18 and 69 it could be you!
First you receive notification that you have been selected, this is on pink paper entitled ‘Jury Summons’, to which you must respond within seven days saying that you can attend or give reasons for not being able to do so. If you cannot attend the date (you had better have a good, non trivial reason) you could then be deferred for up to 12 months but you can only do this once. I won’t go all that happens as a juror or what is expected as https://www.gov.uk/jury-service/overview gives all the information that you need; suffice to say that on average, jury service lasts for 10 days however can be less or a lot longer depending on the case or cases you may be selected for. You will not be paid for jury service but you will be able to claim for travel and loss of earnings. You will also get £5.71 per day for food and drink.
Arriving at Crown Court on the first day can be somewhat daunting, not quite knowing what lies ahead. Those called for jury service congregate in a rather un-exciting room behind a locked door. Many hours are spent in this one room whilst waiting to be called forward to attend a case. This again is entirely random and today I have returned to this room for the seventh day and as yet I have not been chosen!
It has been an interesting time though mainly due to the people I have met. They come from many walks of life. An ex-service person who trains the new police officers, a lady who works on the fire stations call centre, an accountant and a tutor in archeology to mention a few.
One freelancer, who does a variety of farming tasks along with running a small holding for a living, received his ‘invite’, duly cancelled his tasks for the two weeks only for Her Majesty’s Court service (HMCS) to defer it and say he wasn’t required until two weeks later than originally planned. Consequently it was too late to reinstate the work previously planned and so he won’t earn any money. He then had to cancel another two weeks work.
One hairdresser has had to cancel her clients but unlike me she was finally called for a case – it has vexed her somewhat as she could have made a couple of the appointments on some of the previous days when she was sent home early.
I had planned to take a laptop and do some work whilst in this room but I decided not to pay the £4 a day for Wi-Fi and in any case with nearly a hundred people in this room, mostly chatting, it has been difficult to focus. Not only that you are constantly waiting to be one of the ‘chosen’ and as such find it difficult to get started on anything which may need your concentration.
Whilst many employers try to pay their employees for time taken off work for jury service others ‘make’ up the extra from that which can be claimed. This however is very different for the freelancer, unless they have taken out jury service insurance cover, which will reimburse their daily rate for the period of the jury service for which they are required.
Then again what is the chance on that being the case!