Most non-minor criminal offences require a trial by a judge and jury. Some civil cases, for example, defamation, require a jury trial. Information on what jurors do is available in our document on the role of a jury.
Jurors are contacted by summons of the County Registrar, which will state that you are obliged to attend for jury service on a particular date.
Every Irish citizen from the age of 18 (no upper age limit since 1 January 2009) who is on the Register of Dáil Electors is eligible for jury service except:
The rules about eligibility for jury service in Ireland are set down in Section 6 and the First Schedule of the Juries Act, 1976 as amended by Section 54 and Section 64 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008.
The following persons are disqualified from jury service:
The following persons may be excused as of right from jury service:
Other occasions when you may be excused include:
Under the Juries Act, the following offences are punishable by fines:
As mentioned above jurors are contacted by summons of the County Registrar. You must reply to the jury summons by using the form and pre-paid envelope provided. If you come within the categories of persons excusable from jury service as of right, you must state that fact on the form provided.
If you wish to be excused for another reason (such as illness), you must state that reason and the County Registrar will make a decision as to whether or not you may be excused.
All the jury members summonsed that are not excused must attend in court on the first day the panel is formed. The name of every juror is called out and you must answer to show you are in attendance.
In order to select a panel of 12 jurors for a particular case, names are drawn out of a ballot box. If your name is called, you will go to the jury box and you will be given an opportunity to state if you are ineligible for or disqualified from jury service or if you know any of the witnesses in the case.
Section 23 of the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013 amended the Juries Act 1976 so that the jury can consist of up to 15 members, if the case is expected to last more than 2 months.
Even though you are called for jury service, you may not actually serve. Usually more people than necessary are called. You must return to court every day, whether or not you are sworn onto a jury panel, unless otherwise directed by the court.
Before you give your oath, either side in the case may challenge you. This is simply an objection to a proposed juror. Each side may challenge 7 potential jurors without giving any reason and may challenge any number of jurors if they can "show cause".
If you are challenged without reason being given, you will leave the jury box. If you are challenged with reason, it is the judge who decides whether or not you will serve.
The members of the jury who have been selected will individually swear an oath or affirm that they will properly try the issue and give a true verdict according to the evidence.
When the jury is sworn in and before the case starts, it will select a foreman from its members. The foreman acts as an informal chairperson and spokesperson of the jury.
There is no payment for jury service. Travelling expenses are not allowed. If you are actually serving as a juror, lunch will be provided on the day or days that the trial is at hearing.
If you are self-employed and work alone and where your attendance at jury service may mean you cannot earn a living, you may qualify for excusal from jury service. Contact the jury office of the Court for more information.
If you are signing on for a Jobseeker's payment you will continue to be paid, but you should advise your local Social Welfare Office that you have been called for jury service.
If you are in employment, the Juries Act 1976 (Section 29) places a duty on your employer to allow you attend for jury service. It is further specified in the law that time spent on jury service is to be treated as if the employee were actually employed. In other words, if you are in employment and are attending for jury service, you are entitled to be paid while you are away from work. Anyone with a contract of employment (i.e., temporary workers, contract workers, etc.) is entitled to be paid by their employer while they are on jury service. There should also be no loss of any other employment rights while you serve on a jury. The Jury office will provide a certificate of attendance on request.
If you feel your employment rights have been infringed or you have lost employment rights while serving on a jury, you can make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission using the online complaint form available on workplacerelations.ie. Read more about enforcing your employment rights here.
For more information about juries and jury duty contact:
15-24 Phoenix Street North
Tel:+353 (0)1 8886000
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000. The Phone Service will operate Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm during January 2017. You can also visit your local Citizens Information Centre.