Section 96 - Persons excusable from jury service
469.This section makes two changes to paragraph (a) of Schedule 1, Part III, Group F of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1980. The first concerns the period of entitlement to excusal from criminal jury service in Scotland. This section makes provision to reduce the exemption period from 5 to 2 years for individuals who attend court but who are not subsequently balloted to sit on a jury. Currently the system makes no distinction between those who attend at court as required but do not then get picked from the ballot to serve, and those who attend and are selected by ballot to form part of a jury in a case.
470.It is not the intention that this should be a retrospective change; rather it will apply from the commencement date of this section of the legislation. This subsection has no impact on the power that a judge has, for example following particularly long or difficult trials, to direct that jurors be excused from service for any period up to and including excusal for life.
471.The second change adds persons who have attained the age of 71 to the categories of people who are excusable as of right from jury service. Thus, although following the changes made by section 68 there is no upper age limit to serve as a juror in a criminal trial, if someone who is over 71 is notified that they may be called for jury service or they are cited, he or she does not have to serve but may claim excusal as of right. They may do so at any time up to the first day of the trial to which they are cited, by applying in writing, or by personal application at the trial itself, as provided for by section 95. A person aged 71 or over therefore, would only have to undertake jury service if he or she wished.
472.Those who have not reached the age of 71 would not be made excusable of right by this section, and the effect of the change in section 94 therefore is that those between 65 and 70 years of age who are called to perform jury service in criminal proceedings would have to serve from the commencement of this provision. The upper age limit for service as a juror in a civil trial of 65 years, and the respective provisions relating to excusal as of right, remain unchanged.