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Participating in jury trials in Scotland: advice during coronavirus

Update 11 January 2021 (including use of face coverings: see below)

Jurors and witnesses cited to appear for a High Court or Sheriff Court Solemn trial (this means jurors attending a remote jury centre) should continue to do so.  These facilities have been specifically designed to provide a safe environment for jurors during the pandemic – and support the administration of justice in relation to the most serious criminal cases

These pages provide detailed information to support potential jurors. Please read this, and continue to check back here from time to time for any updates.

Jury citations being issued include an information pamphlet about the measures put in place by the SCTS to ensure the safety of all jurors, staff and judiciary called Jury Trials - Your Safety is our Priority


Remote jury centres

Jurors normally take their place in a jury box in a courtroom to participate in court proceedings.

Because of coronavirus that jury box is now located in a separate remote jury centre, which makes sure that the jury can all physically distance while hearing evidence and taking part in deliberations about the case. 

Jurors will view the trial proceedings live on screen with most other trial participants attending the courtroom.

Special measures have been put in place by SCTS to ensure the safety of all jurors. Details are set out in Jury Trials - Your Safety is our Priority

We have also developed three short films – one for jurors, witnesses and practitioners – to help participants understand and adapt to jury trials with the jury at jury centres. These videos should be viewed noting the revised guidance on face coverings that came into force on Monday 11 January 2021 and detailed below.

Face-coverings in court proceedings

Further measures were approved by the Lord President on 11 January 2021 strengthening the requirement to wear face coverings during court proceedings, recognising the heightened concern around the more transmissible form of COVID-19. These are set out below, and over-ride any conflicting guidance in the videos produced for jurors, witnesses and practitioners.

Nothing in these strengthened rules removes the requirement to maintain at least 2m distance from others at all times.

The full guidance can be read here

  • During court proceedings all those in the well of the court and the public areas must wear face coverings, even when seated, unless they are required to speak (e.g. as questioning counsel or witness)
  • The requirement to wear a face covering includes the accused, subject to certain considerations around identification (see the note here)
  • Participants in proceedings may continue to wear face coverings when speaking if they wish to, but may be required by the judge or sheriff to remove them if there are issues of audibility or visibility
  • The presiding judge or sheriff will wear a face covering on entering or leaving the court, but may remove it when seated, in order to conduct the proceedings
  • Jurors observing proceedings from remote jury centres are no longer required to remove their masks while seated

For jurors

 

For witnesses

 

For practitioners

 

Advice for jurors on health and safety

Jury centres will be physically distanced and with stringent hygiene protocols and arrangements in place. See the Jury Information Sheet for criminal trials or the Jury Information Sheet for civil trials.

Jury centres will comply with Public Health Scotland COVID-19 – guidance for non-healthcare settings. This includes 2m physical distancing and a requirement to wear a face covering when entering, leaving and moving around our buildings. You should bring your own face coverings, though these will be available to jurors on arrival for this purpose. Face coverings will not be required to be worn in the jury room when seated. Rigorous, targeted cleaning takes place daily.

Do I still need to attend at the court?

No. For criminal trials, balloting the jury is done in advance without the jurors being present. Only the 15 jurors balloted to participate, plus a small number of substitutes, will attend the jury centre for the trial, with each jury being supported by a court officer. The Jury Information Sheet provides a fuller explanation for jurors on the process – this document is sent to you with your citation. 

For civil jury trials balloting the jury is done on the first day of the trial at the jury centre. All cited civil jurors should attend at the jury centre for balloting. The jury will be supported by a court officer. The Jury Information Sheet for civil jurors provides a fuller explanation for jurors on the process – this document is sent to you with your citation.

However, you should still contact the jury helpline on your citation by telephone after 5pm the day before your citation commences.

Do not attend the jury centre if you have symptoms of coronavirus, are self-isolating for any reason in line with public guidance, or have tested positive.

Information on jury service and qualification

Jurors continue to be selected at random from the electoral register. In order to preserve the random nature of citation, names are selected electronically from information supplied from the electoral registers. This means an individual may be selected on multiple occasions or not at all for a lengthy period, or that several people from one employer are cited simultaneously. It should be noted that, depending on circumstances, if you are excused from serving on a particular occasion, this may result in another citation being received within a relatively short timescale.

If you feel your particular circumstances may merit excusal from service, you should review the further information provided below and in our Guide to Eligibility and Excusal.

This guide also provides details about those people who are not qualified for jury service, disqualified from jury service or ineligible for jury service. It is an offence to serve on a jury knowing that you fall into any of these three categories.

The guide sets out who is entitled to ask to the court to be excused from jury service, as this is possible in certain, specific circumstances. If you wish to apply for excusal on the basis of ill-health (COVID-19 or non-COVID-19) or physical disability, then you must enclose a medical certificate along with your application for excusal. This can normally be obtained free of charge from your GP. 

If you wish to apply for excusal due to another special reason, for example commitments at work, cancellation of which would cause abnormal inconvenience either to yourself or others, or holiday plans which would be difficult or expensive to rearrange, you should complete the relevant sections of the application. You must also provide evidence of this, for example booking confirmation or letter from your employer. Applications for excusals are dealt with sympathetically by the courts, however, it must be understood that in some circumstances, the court may not be able to excuse individuals.

For more information, please make contact through the telephone number provided with your citation.

 


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Criminal jury trials only

Respond to citation

There will be planned system downtime for Jury Citation webpage between 6pm 25th June to 4pm 26th June 2021

Reminder for jurors

Remember to phone the Jurors' attendance update line the evening before you attend court as instructed on your citation.

Contact Information

If you have any queries relating to jury service, you should contact the court which has cited you. Details can be found in your citation pack or use the search below.

Find and contact your court