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.
Eligibility for jury service
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:
- Those 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 Gardai 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.
- Those who are unable to read or have a long-term impairment so that it is not practicable for them to serve on a jury.
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:
- Those who have been convicted of a serious offence in Ireland.
- Those who have ever been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of five years or more.
- Those who, within the last ten years, have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three months.
- People living in Ireland who are not Irish citizens.
Those who are excused as of right
The following persons may be excused as of right from jury service:
- Since January 2009 those aged 65 or over
- Members of the either House of the Oireachtas (the Irish Parliament), members of the Council of State, the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Clerks of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann, a person in Holy Orders, a minister of any religious denomination or community, members of monasteries and convents, aircraft pilots, full-time students and ship's masters
- Those who provide an important community service, such as practising doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, vets, chemists, etc.
- The following persons if it is certified that their functions cannot reasonably be performed by another person or postponed; members of staff of either House of the Oireachtas, Heads of Government Departments, other civil servants, chief executive officers and employees of local authorities, Health Service Executive (HSE) Areas and harbour authorities, school teachers and university lecturers.
- Those who have served on a jury within the last three years or who have been excused by a judge at the conclusion of a previous period of service for a period that has not ended.
Other occasions when you may be excused
Other occasions when you may be excused include:
- The County Registrar or the trial judge may excuse you if he is satisfied that there is "good reason" for doing so.
- At the end of a case of "an exceptionally exacting nature", the trial judge may excuse the jury from jury service for as long as the judge considers fit.
Under the Juries Act, the following offences are punishable by fines:
- Failing to attend for jury service without reasonable excuse, or not being available when called upon to serve as a juror or being unfit for service by reason of drink or drugs.
- Making or causing to be made on your behalf false representations.
- Serving on a jury knowing you are ineligible or disqualified.
- Giving false or misleading answers to the presiding judge regarding your qualification for jury service.
- Making or causing to be made on behalf of a person summoned as a juror any false representations to enable him or her to evade jury service.
Selection of jurors
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.
Payment on jury service
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: