A Blackburn hairdresser who was ‘forced’ off work for two weeks when asked to serve on the jury says she received payments which amounted to just Â£49 a day .
Karen Billington received her first letter from Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service last year, informing her that she had been randomly selected for jury service. The 39-year-old, who lives in Helmshore, took the option of postponing civic duty because of her job.
However, late last year, Karen received another letter telling her that her deferred jury duty was to start on January 17 and last for two weeks. Of the 10 days she had to attend Preston Crown Court, the jury only sat for three days, but due to the nature of Karen’s work, she was unable to book work on the days when the evidence have not been heard.
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“It was an absolute joke,” Karen told LancsLive. “I did three out of 10 days and those weren’t good days because a lot of it was just sitting down to then be sent home.”
Because Karen, who runs the Reflektion salon in Albion Street, was led to believe she would be in court for the full two weeks, she was unable to allow clients to make appointments. Independent jurors can claim Â£64.95 a day to cover lost earnings, with expenses and petrol costs on top, and in total Karen was awarded Â£490.
This means that on average over 10 days, Karen was paid Â£49 a day, which is far less than she would have earned if she had worked. She was also worried about losing repeat customers who couldn’t book appointments.
She added: “I didn’t get paid for the days I didn’t go. It was a complete waste of time. I wasted so much money – two weeks for nothing.
“The self employed shouldn’t be forced to do this because you don’t get the money you would be paid to work. It’s really sad because you are forced to do this and it shouldn’t be the case unless you weren’t getting enough to cover your potential income, I was so angry.”
For each day spent in court, jurors can generally claim up to Â£64.95 to help cover lost earnings and the cost of any child care or custody outside of their usual arrangements. If a juror feels that their financial situation would prevent them from attending, they may ask to be excused, with each case being considered on a case-by-case basis.
To be eligible for jury service, with jurors randomly selected from the electoral register, people must be between the ages of 18 and 75, registered to vote in the UK and must have lived in the UK for at least five years after their 13th birthday.
- be between the ages of 18 and 75 on the start date of your service
- be registered to vote in the UK
- have lived in the UK for at least five years after your thirteenth birthday
People are not qualified to be jurors if they are out on bail, if they have been in jail or under a community order in the last 10 years, if they have previously been sentenced to five years in prison or more, if they are hospitalized or under a mental health treatment order or if they lack mental capacity.
A spokesman for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service said: ‘Jury service is one of the most important civic duties that anyone can be asked to perform, and for most people, it is an interesting and enriching experience.
âJurors can ask to be excused if they feel that their financial situation prevents them from attending. Each request will be carefully studied. Â»
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