Jury service is something that some people may be asked to do in their lifetime. Being on a jury is a 'civic duty' and helps decide the outcome of criminal trials in the Supreme Court.
The exact requirements of eligibility can be found in the Section 19A of the Supreme Court Act, on the Gibraltar Laws website (https://www.gibraltarlaws.gov.gi/legislations/supreme-court-act-124).
You may be asked to do jury service if you:
- are at least 18 years old and no more than 65 years old;
- are listed on the electoral register; and
- have lived in Gibraltar for any period of at least five years since before the jury list was drawn up.
You will not be included on the jury list if:
- there are mental health issues and by reason of these you cannot reasonably be expected to perform the duties of a juror;
- you do not have an adequate knowledge of English to perform the duties of a juror;
- you are disqualified due to your criminal record; or
- you are ineligible due to your profession (see details below)
See the section below on asking to be exused from jury service if you consider that you are not eligible to serve.
Jury service usually lasts between five and ten working days.
Many trials last only two or three days.
If a case is complex (like fraud) it could take longer than ten days. You will be asked at the court if this would cause you any difficulties.
The basic court process is as follows:
1. You find out if you are on a jury
You arrive in the Supreme Court courtyard on the date and time specified in the summons. Court staff should keep you updated about when you are likely to be needed in court – and will give advice about using mobile phones while waiting.
You will remain in the jury waiting area until a court official calls your name. Jurors are randomly selected from a list in court and are then called and taken into the court.
If you're not selected, you may be chosen for another jury on the same day or have to come back another day to be selected for another jury.
2. The jury is 'sworn in'
If you're chosen, you must take the oath or make an affirmation - a promise to listen to the case carefully and to give a fair verdict. The court will explain how to do this.
A verdict is whether someone is guilty or not guilty of committing a crime.
3. The trial begins
Evidence is 'presented' and witnesses from both the prosecution and the defence are questioned.
You can take notes during the trial but they cannot be taken home.
4. The spokesperson (foreman) of the jury is chosen
One person on the jury volunteers (or is chosen by the jury members) to be the foreman or forewoman when asked to by the Judge. The foreperson speaks on behalf of the jury.
5. The verdict is given to the court
Once all the evidence has been presented, you leave the court with the other jurors to discuss the evidence. This is called the ‘deliberation process’ and is done privately in a room specifically set aside for the jury.
The jury comes back into the courtroom and the spokesperson is asked to ‘deliver’ the verdict. This means they tell the court what decision the jury has reached.
Sometimes, the members of the jury cannot all agree whether the person is guilty or not guilty. If this happens, the judge explains what happens next.
It is possible that no decision is reached. If this happens, there is usually a new trial with a new jury.
If the jury’s verdict is not guilty, the defendant is freed and the case ends.
If the jury’s verdict is guilty, the judge decides on the sentence.
Jurors must not discuss the trial with anyone, either in person or on social media.
Once the trial begins, you may only discuss the case with the other jury members in the jury deliberation room as directed by the Judge..
Even when the trial is over you must not discuss what went on in the deliberation room with anyone, even with family members.
If you do, you are in 'contempt of court' and can face prosecution yourself.
You must not discuss or post comments about any trial on social media even after the trial has finished. This is contempt of court.
If anyone approaches you about the trial you must tell a court official (if it happens outsde court) or a police officer.
In some exceptional circumstances, you may be able to delay ('defer') your jury service - for example, you have a holiday booked or an important medical appointment.
You must give the reasons to the court as soon as possible providing documention to the satisfaction of the Registrar. If the Registrar defers your attendance, you will be notified of a further date on which you have to attend.
If you cannot serve on a jury at any time during the next 12 months you must state the reason on the form you receive with the summons. You are normally asked to provide documentary evidence - like a letter from your doctor about a medical condition you have. This also applies if you want to submit that you are not eligible to serve due to mental health issues.
If you have served on a jury within the previous two years you have a right to be excused.
If you work, you should tell your employer straight away after your jury summons arrives. Your employer must give you time off for jury service.
There will be at least six days between your jury summons arriving and the start of your jury service.
You can contact the Supreme Court Registry either by coming to the public counter on Town Range during opening hours or by telephoning 200 75608. You can also e-mail your query to firstname.lastname@example.org