When hearing an Inquest, the coroner normally sits alone. However, in certain circumstances, they may sit with a jury of seven to eleven people. These jurors are chosen randomly from members of the public and act as 'judges of fact' who, under the direction of the coroner, decide the facts of the inquest and return a conclusion. As an inquest is not a trial, and isn't intended to apply blame or liability, the jury is not seeking to determine anyone's guilt. They are screened for any potential bias ahead of time to make them as impartial as possible and if the coroner believes them to be unreliable in any way they can intervene. If you have any questions regarding the process by which a jury is picked, or why a coroner may decide to enlist a jury, you can contact the coroner's office.
If you are to be a part of a jury
Once you have been notified by the court that you are required to attend as a juror, you will be sent a set of instructions as to what you need to do and a form that you must return to the court. You can contact the coroner's office if you have any questions about these instructions or the form.
Attendance as a juror is not optional, you must attend if required to do so. Failure to return the completed form or to attend is punishable by a fine of up to £1000. You will need to let your employer know that you won't be able to attend work during your allocated days of jury service.
Make sure that you check with your employer if they will pay you in your absence as the court will not pay for you for your jury service. However, in cases where your employer doesn't pay you, you can make a claim for loss of earnings as a result of your absence from work. This also applies if you are self-employed. There are limits to the amount that you can be paid and these are set in law. You can learn what these limits are at jury service page of GOV.UK.
You will also be given a daily allowance to cover food and drink. In certain circumstances you may be able to claim travel expenses. Please visit the jury service page of GOV.UK for further information.
If you want to delay jury service
In extreme circumstances or if you have a pre-booked holiday the coroner may allow you to postpone your jury service. No more than one postponement will be allowed. If you think that you are unable to carry out your jury service and want to postpone it, you should contact the court as soon as possible setting out the full reasons with written proof of them.
The relevant contact details will be on the notification letter.