If you are called as a juror

Most inquests are held without a jury, but there are times when the law says that
a jury must be called. This includes:

  • if the death happened in prison, in police custody or another type of state
    detention (except if the death was from natural causes) 
  • if the death resulted from an accident at work
  • if the senior coroner thinks that there is sufficient reason for doing so

These inquests can range from one day to multiple weeks - your summons will state the approximate length of the inquest.

Jurors for the Coroners Court are summoned the same way as they are for the criminal courts; randomly from the electoral register. You will receive a summons in the post approximately 6 weeks before the inquest is due to start. This paperwork will need to be filled in as instructed and returned to the court at the earliest convenience, but within 7 days.

Do I qualify as juror?

The summons will ask you if you are eligible to serve in the court as a juror and is as because not everybody is eligible for to be a juror.

To qualify, you must:

  • be aged between 18 and 75 by the inquest start date
  • be registered to vote in the UK
  • have been a resident in the UK for at least 5 years after your thirteenth birthday.

You do not qualify as a juror if you:

  • are on bail
  • have been to prison or been subject to a community order within the last 10 years
  • have ever been given a prison sentence of 5 years or longer
  • are in hospital or under a community treatment order for mental health treatment
  • do not have mental capacity.

If you are unsure as to whether you fall under any of these categories you can contact the office on 0151 233 5770.

If you are eligible to serve as a juror but cannot attend for other reasons, such as a planned holiday, medical appointments, or health concerns then you must fill in the form stating that you are eligible however that you wish to be excused.

You may be required to provide evidence for why you will be unable to attend. If the coroner agrees to excuse you from attending this inquest you may be summoned again for future inquests.

Once you have completed all the paperwork please return the form using the pre-paid envelope.

Once all the summons are sent out we might receive more replies than are needed for eligible jurors. If this is the case, we will choose to defer some jurors to a later date, we will contact you to inform you of this.

Any changes in your circumstances, such as illness, must be reported to the Coroner’s Office as soon as possible. If you do not turn up on the first day of the inquest, the coroner has the power to send the police to come and bring you to court.

What to expect on day one

On the first day you will attend court usually 1 hour before the start of the inquest, however you will be informed of this. You will be met by members of the administration team who talk to you individually to run through your expenses, and check that you have no connection to any people related to the inquest you will be attending. If you know someone who is involved in the case you may be deferred to another inquest.

Once all the necessary paperwork has been complete all appointed jurors will wait in the jury house until the start of the inquest where they will be escorted into the court.

You will be informed of the paperwork and identification you will need to bring with you, but apart from this you will require nothing else for the course of the inquest - notebooks and pens will be provided by the court. You are welcome to bring a book or something else to occupy your time on breaks, any personal belongings will be locked in the jury house whilst the inquest is on.

You must not take any phones or cameras into the courtroom, these must be given to a member of staff before you enter the court and they will be returned to you on your breaks and at the end of the day.

You are free to go out for your lunch break which is usually for 1 hour but may be longer if the coroner decides. There is a sandwich shop over the road from the court and food can be pre-ordered so you can collect it quickly during lunch  Other food outlets are nearby, or you can bring your own lunch.

Similar to witnesses attending court, each juror will be asked to swear an oath on the holy book of your choice or to affirm which is non-religious. Once all jury members have completed this, the hearing will begin. You are encouraged to make notes during the inquest to assist with your decision. You are also able to ask witnesses questions during the inquest if you are unclear.  If you do not feel comfortable asking this yourself you can write it on a piece of paper that can be given to the coroner to ask on your behalf.

To help you make your final decision, the coroner will provide you with a summary of the points and will give you a selection of different conclusions that can be reached. How long the final conclusion can take is dependent on the jury and whether they agree or not. If it takes more than a few days the coroner can intervene and choose to make a decision on what the majority agree.

You will be formally dismissed when the inquest is closed and you will be free to go, but you must not tell anyone else the details of the discussion you had with the other jury members. If you are struggling during or after the inquest with the circumstances, we can arrange for you to speak to someone who will be able to support you.