Jury service

Introduction

Jury service is when you are instructed to attend court with other members of the public, so the court can select people to sit on juries for upcoming court cases. Even though you are called for jury service, you may not actually serve on a jury. If you are selected to serve on a jury, you and the other jurors will hear the evidence in the case, and then decide if the accused person is guilty of an offence. You have an obligation to attend for jury service if you are called to do so. You will be contacted by summons of the County Registrar, and the summons will state that you are obliged to attend for jury service on a particular date.

Most criminal offences must be tried in front of trial by a judge and jury. Juries are not needed in most civil cases. However, there are exceptions, for example, some defamation cases. Information on what jurors do is available in our document on the role of a jury.

Who is eligibile for jury service

If you are an Irish citizen aged 18 and over, and are on the Register of Electors you are eligible for jury service, unless you:

  • Are involved in any way with the administration of justice. This includes judges, former judges, the President, the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, members of the Gardaí and defence forces, prison officers, practising barristers, solicitors, court officers such as registrars, and personnel in government departments involved in matters of justice or the courts.
  • Have, or had, a mental illness or mental disability and because of this are staying in a hospital or similar institution, or regularly attend treatment with a medical practitioner
  • Are unable to read or have a long-term impairment that means it is not practical for you to serve on a jury

The rules about eligibility for jury service in Ireland are set down in the Juries Act 1976 as amended by the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008.

Who is disqualifed from jury service?

You are disqualified from jury service if you:

  • Have been convicted of a serious offence in Ireland
  • Have ever been sentenced to five years or more in prison
  • Have been sentenced to three months or more in prison in the last ten years
  • Are living in Ireland but are not an Irish citizen

Who has a right to be excused from jury service?

You have the right to be excused from jury service if you:

  • Are aged 65 or over
  • Are a member of the either House of the Oireachtas, a member of the Council of State, the Comptroller and Auditor General, a Clerk of Dáil Éireann or Seanad Éireann, in Holy Orders, a minister of any religious denomination or community, a member of a monastery or convent, an aircraft pilot, a full-time student or a ship's master
  • Provide an important community service, such as a practising doctor, nurse, midwive, dentist, vet or chemist
  • Have served on a jury in the last three years, or have been excused by a judge for a certain amount of time after a previous period of jury service
  • Have one of the following jobs, and it has been certified that your role cannot be postponed or reasonably performed by another person:
    • Member of staff of either House of the Oireachtas
    • Head of a government department
    • Civil servant
    • Chief executive officer or employee of a local authority
    • Health Service Executive (HSE) employee
    • Harbour authority employee
    • School teacher
    • University lecturer

Other situations when you can be excused from jury service

You can also be excused from jury service in other situations, for example:

  • The County Registrar or the trial judge can excuse you if they are satisfied that there is "good reason" to do so
  • At the end of a case of "an exceptionally exacting nature", the trial judge can excuse the jury from jury service for as long as they consider suitable

What happens if I don’t attend for jury service?

Under the Juries Act 1976, you can be fined for:

  • Failing to attend for jury service without a reasonable excuse
  • Being unavailable when called to serve as a juror
  • Being unfit for service by reason of drink or drugs

Other offences

You can also be fined for other offences in relation to jury service, including:

  • Making (or causing to be made) any false representations
  • Serving on a jury knowing you are ineligible or disqualified
  • Giving false or misleading answers to the judge about your qualification for jury service
  • Making (or causing to be made) any false representations about a person summoned as a juror so they don’t have to do jury service

How is a jury selected?

Jurors are contacted by summons of the County Registrar. You must reply to the jury summons using the form and pre-paid envelope provided. If you have a right to be excused from jury service, you must state this on the form provided.

If you want to be excused for another reason (such as illness), you must state that reason on the form and enclose any certificates or documents in support of your application. The County Registrar will decide if you can be excused, or not.

In court

Any jury members that have been summonsed and are not excused must attend court on the first day of jury service. 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 go to the jury box where you will be given an opportunity to state if you:

  • Are ineligible for jury service
  • Disqualified from jury service
  • Know the accused person, a witness or anyone taking part in the trial
  • Are connected with the case in any way

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 on a jury. Usually more people are called for jury service than are needed. You must return to court each day, whether or not you are sworn onto a jury panel, unless the court tells you to do otherwise.

Either side in the case can challenge you as a juror. This happens when either side objects to a proposed juror for a specific case. Each side can challenge 7 potential jurors without giving any reason and can challenge any number of jurors if they can "show cause".

If you are challenged without a reason being given, you must leave the jury box. However, you may be called to serve on another jury in a different courtroom later. If you are challenged with a reason, the judge 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.

Payment for jury service

You are not paid for jury service and travelling expenses are not allowed. If you are actually serving as a juror, lunch will be provided on the day or days of the trial.

If you are self-employed and work alone and your attendance at jury service means you cannot earn a living, you may qualify to be excused 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, your employer must let you attend jury service. Time spent on jury service should 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. If you have a contract of employment, for example, (temporary workers or contract workers) you are entitled to be paid by your employer while you are on jury service. There should also be no loss of any other employment rights while you serve on a jury. You can request a certificate from the jury office to confirm your attendance at jury service.

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.

Further information

For more information about juries and jury duty see the Courts Service’s FAQ on jury service or contact:

Courts Service

15-24 Phoenix Street North
Smithfield
Dublin 7
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 888 6000
Page edited: 27 August 2019