jurors, usually in a criminal case. From April 2004 the pool of
eligible people will significantly increase as almost all of the
existing groups of people disqualified from, ineligible for or
Under the new legislation everyone called for jury service should
serve unless there are compelling reasons to be deferred or excused.
Expanding the pool of potential jurors in this way will ensure that
juries better reflect the communities from which they are drawn, and
improve public confidence in the justice system as a whole.
Announcing a consultation on the new guidelines for excusal and
deferral to be used by jury summoning officers, courts minister Chris
Leslie said: 'The draft guidance set out in the consultation paper is
intended to strike a balance between the needs of society to have a
representative jury to hear cases, and the needs of the person
summoned to undertake jury service.
'Most people understand that it is an important civic duty to serve
on a jury when summoned. Nevertheless, I believe the guidance
recognises and takes account of how jury service can affect the lives
of people already subject to a multitude of conflicting demands.
'It is essential that all requests for excusal or deferral are dealt
with fairly and consistently across the country and we want to hear
from anyone who has a view on this.'
All registered electors aged between 18 and 70 years of age, except
certain individuals with a mental illness or convicted of a criminal
offence, will be eligible for jury service and it will be necessary
for anyone else seeking to be excused jury service to show 'good
reason' why they should not do their civic duty.
It is not intended that the new guidance should cover every possible
circumstance but it should establish a general approach for the Jury< p/="">Central Summoning Bureau to apply a fair and consistent approach.
The new guidelines will be used by the (JCSB) when exercising its
discretion to defer or excuse a person summoned for jury service in
England or Wales.
This consultation follows from the recommendations made by Lord
Justice Auld in his Review of the Criminal Courts and from the
subsequent provisions contained in Schedule 29 of the Criminal
Justice Act 2003.
The consultation period ends on 27 February. A copy of the
consultation paper can be downloaded from the DCA website
The consultation period ends on 27th February 2004. A copy of the
paper can be found at http://www.dca.gov.uk/consultation/juries/
1. Clause 298 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 abolishes the
categories of ineligibility and excusal as of right contained in
schedule 1 of the Juries Act 1974.
2. It also places a statutory duty on the Lord Chancellor to publish
guidance about the way in which the Jury Central Summoning Bureau
will exercise its function on discretionary deferrals and excusal
under sections 9 and 9A of the 1974 Act.
3. Under the new legislation anyone who does not wish to serve as a
juror, will be required to show 'good reason' why he or she should
not serve as summoned.
4. The Criminal Justice Act also places a statutory duty on the lord
chancellor (in whom responsibility for jury summoning is vested), to
issue guidelines as to the manner in which the functions of the
appropriate officer (i.e. the Jury Central Summoning Bureau) are to
be exercised. The purpose in doing this is to ensure clarity and
transparency of the discretionary system. It is on these guidelines
that this consultation paper seeks views.