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Criminal Justice Act 2003

Schedule 33: Jury service

878.Schedule 33 amends the principal statute governing jury service, the Juries Act 1974, to abolish (except in the case of mentally disordered persons) the categories of ineligibility for, and excusal “as of right” from, jury service, currently set out in Parts 1 and 3 of Schedule 1 to that Act. This means that certain groups of people who currently must not, or need not, do jury service will, when these provisions are brought into force, be required to do so unless they can show good reason not to. Schedule 33 also makes amendments to the category of those disqualified from jury service, as set out in Part 2 of Schedule 1 to the Juries Act 1974, to reflect developments in sentencing legislation, including those made by the Act itself.

Paragraphs 2, 3, 14 and 15

879.These provisions have the effect of removing the status of “ineligibility” for jury service, and entitlement to “excusal as of right” from jury service, from a number of people; they will, as a result, in future be regarded in all cases as potential jurors. Under the Juries Act 1974, as it currently stands, the judiciary, others concerned with the administration of justice, and the clergy, are “ineligible” for jury service and therefore barred from serving as jurors. That bar will be lifted. Others, including people over 65, members of parliament, medical professionals and members of certain religious bodies, are currently entitled to refuse to serve as jurors. That entitlement will be removed. If any person affected by these changes does not wish to serve as a juror, he or she will now be required to apply for excusal or deferral under section 9 or 9A of the 1974 Act, showing “good reason” why he or she should not serve as summoned.

880.Paragraph 2 of Schedule 33 replaces section 1 of the Juries Act 1974 with a new version, removing the status of ineligibility for jury service currently in section 1 of the 1974 Act, with a saving for mentally disordered persons only. Paragraph 15 substitutes a new version of Schedule 1 to the 1974 Act, and correspondingly removes the first three groups of persons ineligible (the judiciary, others concerned with the administration of justice, and the clergy), leaving only mentally disordered persons with that status. Paragraph 14 of Schedule 33 makes consequential provision to remove references to these groups of ineligible people in the context of the jury summoning offences in section 20 of the Juries Act 1974.

881.Paragraph 15 also replaces the categories of those who are disqualified from jury service with a new list for Part 2 of Schedule 1 to the Juries Act 1974. These are people who have served, or are serving, prison sentences or community orders of varying degrees of seriousness. The period of time during which they are to be disqualified varies accordingly. A number of amendments have been made to Part 2 to reflect recent and forthcoming developments in sentencing legislation. Juveniles sentenced under section 91 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 to detention for life, or for a term of five years or more, will be disqualified for life from jury service. People sentenced to imprisonment or detention for public protection, or to an extended sentence under section 227 or 228 of the Act are to be disqualified for life from jury service. Anyone who has received a community order (as defined in section 177 of the Act) will be disqualified from jury service for ten years.

882.Paragraph 3 of Schedule 32 repeals section 9(1) of the Juries Act 1974. This subsection provided that certain groups of people listed in Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the 1974 Act should be “excused as of right” from jury service: that is, they were entitled to refuse to do jury service if they so wish. These groups include people over 65 years of age, members of parliament, members of medical and similar professions, people with religious objections to doing jury service, and (in specified circumstances) members of the armed forces. No one will in future be entitled to excusal as of right from jury service, as is currently provided. Part 3 has been omitted from the substituted Schedule 1 in paragraph 15.

Paragraphs 4 to 11

883.These paragraphs make provision consequential on the repeal of Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the Juries Act 1974. Full-time serving members of the armed forces are at present entitled to excusal as of right from jury service if, but only if, their commanding officer certifies that their absence would be prejudicial to the efficiency of the service in question. With the abolition of excusal as of right, service personnel who do not wish to do jury service will, like everyone else, have to apply under section 9 or 9A of the 1974 Act and show “good reason” why they should not serve as summoned. A commanding officer’s certificate is, however, to be regarded in future as conclusive evidence of good reason for the purposes of these provisions, so that on its production a jury service summons will be deferred; if there has already been a deferral or if the commanding officer certifies that absence would be prejudicial for a specified period of time, then service personnel will be excused altogether from the obligation imposed by the summons. But that is without prejudice to the position should a further summons be issued on a future occasion.

884.Paragraph 12: Sections 9A and 9 of the Juries Act 1974 deal, respectively, with discretionary deferral and excusal. If a person who has been summoned to do jury service can show that there is a “good reason” that his summons should be deferred or excused, then discretion exists to defer or excuse. The discretion currently rests with the Jury Central Summoning Bureau, a part of the Lord Chancellor’s Department, which administers the jury summoning system on behalf of the Crown Court in England and Wales. With the abolition of most of the categories of persons ineligible for jury service, and of the availability of excusal as of right, many of these cases will now fall to be dealt with as applications for excusal or deferral under sections 9 and 9A. New section 9AA, introduced by this paragraph, places a statutory duty on the Lord Chancellor (in whom responsibility for jury summoning is vested by section 2 of the 1974 Act) to publish and lay before Parliament guidelines relating to the exercise by the Jury Central Summoning Bureau of its functions in relation to discretionary deferral and excusal.

885.Paragraph 13: Section 19 of the Juries Act 1974 gives an entitlement to jurors to be paid, amongst other things, a subsistence allowance during the period they are serving on a court case. This paragraph will enable the Court Service of the Lord Chancellor’s Department (which administers the Crown Court, and the payment of jurors’ subsistence allowances) to pay this allowance otherwise than by means of cash. Some court facilities enable staff to obtain refreshments by non-monetary means, such as a voucher or an electronic ‘swipe card’; this paragraph will enable them to extend the same means to jurors.

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