FAQs: Jury Service in the Federal Court


 

Eligibility for jury service

Am I eligible for jury service in the Federal Court?

You are eligible for jury service in the Federal Court of Australia if your name is on the jury roll for the relevant jury district for a trial and you are entitled to vote at elections for Members of the House of Representatives.

You may, however, be disqualified from jury service because of your professional status or because of your background. For more information, see Information sheet 1 – Eligibility for jury service and disqualification from jury service and the flowchart process for jury selection.

What do I do if I am disqualified from jury service?

If you believe that you are disqualified from jury service you should notify the Sheriff when you reply to the questionnaire or if you receive a summons to attend for jury service.


Being excused from jury service

Who can I ask to be excused from jury service?

During the jury recruitment process, you can request the Sheriff to be excused for any of the following reasons:

  • your health, or
  • undue hardship, financial or otherwise, to you, or to another person, if you are not excused, or
  • your recent service on a jury in any jurisdiction in Australia, or
  • substantial inconvenience to the public resulting from you serving on the jury, or
  • your inability, in all the circumstances, to perform the duties of a juror to a reasonable standard.

When the jury is being empanelled in court before the Trial Judge, and before you are selected as a juror, you should also make a request to the Trial Judge to be excused if you know the accused person or any of the people likely to give evidence in the matter, or if there is any other reason why you think you may not able to consider the case impartially. Also, if your circumstances have changed since being summonsed for jury service that impact on your ability to perform jury service, you can make a request to be excused before the Trial Judge.

For more information, see Information sheet 3 – Requests to be excused.

Inconvenience is not considered to be a valid reason to be excused from jury service. You should think carefully before asking to be excused. The criminal justice system cannot work without jurors, and it is often possible for people to arrange their affairs so that they can perform jury service.

How do I ask to be excused from jury service?

You will be given opportunities to request to be excused from jury service, including:

  • when you receive a questionnaire
  • when you receive a summons to attend for jury service
  • when you attend court in response to a summons for jury service.

What if I can't understand English?

If you cannot speak or read English, you can request to be excused from jury service on that basis.

What if I have a disability?

If you have a disability, you should notify the Sheriff when you receive the questionnaire. The Federal Court of Australia does not discriminate against any person with a disability and will make reasonable adjustments to enable a person with a disability to take part in jury service.


Questionnaires

What should I do if I receive a questionnaire?

If you receive a questionnaire, you should complete it and return it to the Federal Court of Australia by the date specified in the questionnaire.

A completed questionnaire can be returned by post, by using the pre-paid return envelope provided with the questionnaire, or by lodging it electronically using the directions given in the covering letter.

A questionnaire is not a summons to attend for jury service. You should not attend court unless and until you receive a summons that directs you to do so. Not everyone who receives a questionnaire will be summonsed for jury service.

Do I have to complete the questionnaire?

It is an offence under section 58AE of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth), to fail to return the questionnaire or return it incomplete, without a reasonable excuse (Penalty: 30 penalty units / $6,660). It is also an offence under section 58AF of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth) to provide information, with the intent of avoiding service as a juror, that is false or misleading, or omits any matter or thing without which the information is misleading (Penalty: 60 penalty units / $13,320).


Summons for jury service

What should I do if I receive a summons to attend for jury service?

If you receive a summons for jury service, you must attend court on the day shown in the summons unless either:

  • you are notified before that day that you have been excused from jury service, or
  • you are contacted by the Court and told that you will not be needed at court on that day.

If you are told that you will not be needed at court on the day specified in the summons, but that you will be needed on another day, you must attend court on that other day.
The summons will show a contact number for the Court. Please call that number if you have any questions or if you are not sure when you are required to attend court.

What happens if I don't attend court?

It is an offence, under section 58AA of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth), to fail to comply with a summons to attend for jury service (Penalty: 30 penalty units / $6,660).

Where should I go if I receive a summons to attend for jury service?

The Federal Court of Australia has courts in every Australian capital city. The summons will state where you should go and what time you should arrive.

When you arrive at court, look for a sign directing you where to go in the court building. There will also be one or more court officers in attendance. If you have any questions you should talk to one of the court officers.

How long will I be needed for jury service?

While the length of a trial is difficult to predict with accuracy, the questionnaire will include details of when the trial is due to begin and an estimated duration. If you receive a summons for jury service, you will be required to attend court. Once at court you will be told whether the estimated duration of the trial has changed. If it has, you should consider whether you are still able to perform jury service.


General information for jurors

What hours does the Federal Court of Australia sit?

The Federal Court of Australia usually sits between 10.15am and 4.15pm each weekday, with a one hour break for lunch. You should attend court in accordance with the details specified on the summons for jury service.

What should I wear to court?

Neat comfortable clothes are appropriate for jury service.

What should I bring to court?

If you have been summonsed for jury service, you should bring the summons and photographic identification (e.g. a driver's licence). You should also consider bringing reading material or something similar in the event that you need to spend time waiting at court.

All Federal Court of Australia courts have airport-style security at the entrance. Please note that unpermitted items will be removed.

Can I go home at night?

You can go home at night unless the Trial Judge requires that the jurors remain together. The Federal Court of Australia will arrange accommodation and meals, if that becomes necessary.

Can I take a mobile phone into the jury room?

It will be matter for the Trial Judge to decide whether you can take mobile phones, laptops, IPads and other communication devices into the jury room. The Trial Judge will normally give a direction on the issue at the start of the trial.

You must, however, never use a mobile phone or other communication device to discuss details of the trial with anyone who is outside the jury room or to conduct your own research into issues raised by the trial. You must, as a juror, reach a decision based on the evidence presented in court and the directions given by the Trial Judge.


Fees and payments to jurors

What fees are payable to jurors and potential jurors?

The rates of attendance fees and jury fees are set out in the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court Regulations 2012 (Cth) and are summarised in Information sheet 2 – Jury Service Remuneration and Travel Allowance.

How will attendance fees and jury fees be paid?

You will be asked to provide bank account details so that applicable fees can be paid by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). It is possible for the Federal Court of Australia to make alternative payment arrangements if you do not have a bank account. However, there may be delays in payment if it is not possible to use EFT.

Do jury fees have to be declared to ATO?

According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website, jury fees paid to a person may form part of their assessable income and may need to be declared to the ATO.

The Federal Court of Australia will provide a payment summary to each juror at the end of the financial year showing payments made. If you require further information, you should talk to the ATO or your financial advisor, if you have one.

Will I get travel allowance?

You may be entitled to claim travel allowance if you need to travel more than 30km to reach court. If you want to claim travel allowance, you should ask for a travel claim form when you are at court.

Will I get meals?

The Federal Court of Australia will provide lunch to a jury on each day the jury is required at court. The Court will provide other meals if jurors are not permitted to leave the Court.


Jury service and your employer

Will my employer pay my normal wages while I perform jury service?

Under the Fair Work Act 2009, your employer must pay you, for up to 10 days, for the difference between your jury allowance and your ordinary base rate of payment. Beyond 10 days, it is matter for your employer to decide whether to pay you. If you do not know where your employer stands on the issue, you should speak to your employer or your personnel section.

Will I have to repay any money to my employer?

It is a matter for you and your employer to work out whether any money you receive, by way of jury allowance, must be paid to your employer. If you have any questions on the issue, you should speak to your employer or to your personnel section.

What if my employer won't give me leave for jury service?

Under the Fair Work Act 2009 your employer must grant you leave to perform jury service. Your employer cannot deduct the time from your recreation leave or any other leave. If your employer refuses to grant you leave for jury service, you should contact the Federal Court of Australia.


Expectations of jurors

Are jurors required to be experts on the law?

You are not required to be an expert on the law or to have any other area of special knowledge.

You have been selected at random to be a juror for the purpose of bringing with you the range of knowledge and skills you have as a member of the general community.

The Trial Judge will assist the jury by giving directions on the law. A jury must comply with directions given by the Trial Judge.

What if the jury has a question on the law?

The jury can put questions to the Trial Judge in the course of a trial.

That should be done by the foreperson putting the question into writing and passing the note to a jury officer. The jury officer will pass the question to the Trial Judge.

An individual juror can also pass a note directly to a jury officer if an issue arises which the juror does not want to discuss with the foreperson.

Who can I talk to about jury service?

You are allowed to tell your friends, family and workmates that you have been selected on a jury. However, you must not discuss details of the case with anyone except your fellow jurors and must not identify other members of the jury to any person. The jury deliberations must remain secret. This applies even when the trial is over.

There are some limited exceptions to the secrecy rule. The main one is that you can disclose information to a health professional if you are receiving treatment in relation to issues arising from your jury service.

If you are unclear about the secrecy rule, you should contact the Federal Court of Australia.

What happens if a jury makes its own inquiries?

It is very important that a jury does not conduct its own research or make its own inquiries. The jury must reach a decision based on the evidence presented in court and the directions given by the Trial Judge.

If a jury makes its own inquiries, it may be necessary for the Trial Judge to dismiss the jury and start the trial again with a new jury.

Can I volunteer to do jury service?

A person cannot volunteer to sit on a jury. Jurors are selected by a random process from the general community.


Further information

Contact the Sheriff of the Federal Court of Australia via email at sheriff@fedcourt.gov.au.