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Cupar no more
After getting a call up last month for jury service at Cupar Sheriff Court starting on Wednesday 3 June, I wrote a polite letter asking to be excused as the pittance they pay to cover loss of earnings would barely start to cover my contracting daily rate.

Unfortunately they replied to say that was not sufficient grounds for excusal.

So I prepared to lose one or more (indefinite, could be many) working days, including arranging to work today to make up for lost time. And then I got a letter this morning telling me that the sitting will not proceed and that my attendance is not now required, but that I will be liable to be recalled on a future occasion. They added "I apologise for any inconvenience this matter may have caused you."

A good result, in that I don't have to go to court and lose money in doing so, but annoying in the hassle and worry it has caused me. And it will start again when they get around to calling me in the future. And altogether inconvenient.

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I got called for jury service just after the end of my first year at university (in York). So I traipsed all the way back to Nottingham, was allocated to a case and sworn in, and at lunchtime on the first day went to ask where on the expenses form I should claim for my return coach fare back from York.

"Yes, I'm a student there."
"Oh. Who do you pay community charge to?" [This was mid-1992.]
"Ryedale District Council."
"In York?"
"Oh. You shouldn't be here. You're not in our jurisdiction."
"Well I got a letter at my parents' address telling me to come here today, so I did."
"Hmmm. Have you been sworn in?"
"Yes, this morning."
"Oh dear. Well what we'll probably do is let you go after that case has finished."

So that's what happened. I didn't get my coach fare refunded, so I wrote to ask them for it. They wrote back to say "We don't refund travelling expenses" so I replied to say "Yes, but your mistake has massively inconvenienced me for no good reason, and has also left me, an impoverished student, somewhat out of pocket just for doing my civic duty" and they eventually caved in. It all left me rather less well-disposed to jury service, though.

I've come to the conclusion that jury service is designed by public-sector workers for public-sector workers. There is an expectation that jurors can take an indefinite amount of time off work, and that employers will continue to pay their employees while away.

Employers have a legal obligation to give jurors time off work, but have no obligation to pay employees while they are on jury duty. But the daily rate for loss of earnings of £62 ensures that, for most workers, either employee or employer (or both) are out of pocket.

At least they offered to pay travel costs. Maybe in a rural area that is more likely than in a city like Nottingham.

Edited at 2009-05-30 11:14 am (UTC)

next time try saying your wife will be out of town and wont have anyone to watch the child after daycare...

they dont care how much money they will make you loose, but in states if it is health or child related... they cant make you sit.

Unfortunately having to look after a child is not a valid reason to be excused from jury duty. They pay a basic allowance to cover childcare, and that is it.

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