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Sole practitioner called for jury service

Sole practitioner called for jury service

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I've received a summons for jury service, but I am a sole practitioner working from home - my wife helps me with some admin but is not qualified to take care of client work.

If I attend jury service, there will be no one here to do the work, so I'd be interested to hear from others whether an application to be excused is likely to be accepted. No point applying for deferall as the same circumstances will apply later too!

Replies (54)

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By andy.partridge
20th Mar 2013 14:25

Pathetic excuse

If you happen to find yourself on trial would you want your future to be settled by a bunch of unemployables?

If things really can't wait until the end of the trial and you refuse to work before 10.00am or after 4pm or at weekends, then call in the named individual in your continuity agreement. 

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By geroge
20th Mar 2013 14:47

'bunch of unemployables' isn't the only alternative, you're forgetting the vast number who are employed and for whom work can be rearranged.

My question is whether the Jury service accept an excuse along the lines in the OP and ideally I'd like to hear from people who have made such an application.

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Replying to bernard michael:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
20th Mar 2013 14:43

statutory deadlines

I suggest you use a reason that lawyers might see as "valid" in their terms.

My suggestion: "if I have to attend jury service, statutory deadlines for my clients will be missed, putting my clients in breach of the law. Ultimately, this can lead to my clients facing the threat of criminal prosecution by Companies House or HM Revenue & Customs."

This worked for me. Ironically, I would like to experience jury service but the call came at a busy time for me.

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Replying to Smokoe Joe:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
20th Mar 2013 14:45

@David

Why do you advise not to disclose being an accountant in those circumstances?

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Replying to stepurhan:
David Winch
By David Winch
20th Mar 2013 16:09

Jury service

Red Leader wrote:

Why do you advise not to disclose being an accountant in those circumstances?

Because if the other jury members get to know that you are an accountant and there is a financial / accountancy aspect to the case the other jurors might give more weight to your views because you are an accountant.  That is a big NO-NO because it perverts the jury system of 12 individuals each making up their own mind on the issue.  Instead it becomes akin to you advising 11 others on the accountancy rights and wrongs and normal practice.  So you get a decision by a jury of one (you) rather than 12.

The same applies to lawyers who do jury service.

David

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By andy.partridge
23rd Mar 2013 15:26

David, I don't remember being told this

davidwinch wrote:

Red Leader wrote:

Why do you advise not to disclose being an accountant in those circumstances?

Because if the other jury members get to know that you are an accountant and there is a financial / accountancy aspect to the case the other jurors might give more weight to your views because you are an accountant.  That is a big NO-NO because it perverts the jury system of 12 individuals each making up their own mind on the issue.  Instead it becomes akin to you advising 11 others on the accountancy rights and wrongs and normal practice.  So you get a decision by a jury of one (you) rather than 12.

You would think if that were the case and it was a problem an accountant should divulge their interest just as you might if you were a friend or relative of the accused.

I recall the judge advising us to draw on our own life experiences when giving weight to the evidence. The jury room is a forum for debate and it is just as likely that there will be as many arrogant jurors who refuse to be swayed by a 'know all' as a weaker juror will be. Each juror is given the opportunity and encouraged to give their opinion of why they feel the defendant is guilty or not guilty.

Without going into too much detail I had a case of an accountant accused of defrauding his employer through misuse of the payroll system. Part of the defence evidence were the output reports. We had a couple of jurors who believed the reports must be accurate 'because they came from a computer'. Would it have been wrong of me to give a brief explanation of the workings of the payroll program that the defendant had control over?  

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Replying to leshoward:
David Winch
By David Winch
23rd Mar 2013 19:01

Specialist knowledge of a juror

Andy

You might be interested in THIS CASE recently decided by the Court of Appeal (see para 63 onwards).

It was a case involving the export of certain goods (apparently with potential military uses) to Iran.  The prosecution case was that the goods in question needed an export licence and the defendant had (knowingly) exported them (or attempted to export them) to Iran without a licence.

As it happened one member of the jury was "Europe, Middle East and Africa Head of Structured Trade Finance" at an (un-named in the judgment) company, who said he was "confronted more often than not with the supervision of similar transactions to the one covered in this process".  Having listened to the prosecution evidence he sent a note to the judge to say "there are several details that will entail automatic rejection of the transaction in compliance grounds at my institution".

He asked the judge whether in the circumstances he ought not to continue on the jury.

The judge allowed him to continue on the jury.  The defendant was ultimately convicted of the offence.

On appeal the conviction was quashed because "there was a real possibility of unconscious jury bias such that a fair trial was not possible".

There was also a danger that the jury might in their deliberations have relied on the 'expert evidence' of this juror after they had retired to consider their verdict.  They were required to decide their verdict based only on the evidence heard in court.  The 'evidence' of the juror would not have been subject to cross-examination or challenge in the way that evidence in court is.

So in answer to your query, "Would it have been wrong of me to give [other jurors] a brief explanation of the workings of the payroll program that the defendant had control over?" I would suggest the answer from the Court of Appeal would be "Yes, it would be wrong".

David

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Replying to Steven Dring:
By cfield
23rd Mar 2013 19:54

So where do you draw the line?

Where do you draw the line between your "lifetime experiences" and having "expert knowledge" tantamount to evidence that cannot be subject to cross examination or challenge. Does reading the FT on a regular basis give you expert knowledge in a case involving financial irregularities? On any jury, there are bound to be some people that are more well informed than the other jurors.

What an amazingly lucky escape for the defendant in that case. He must have thought all his Christmases had come at once.

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By mumpin
20th Mar 2013 14:38

Write to the Clerk of the Court...

Tell him  that you've got 100+ clients used to having daily access to you by phone or email and that if the trial went on for 2 weeks you'd lose business.

Worked for me.

One of my clients spent a week listening to a blow by blow account of a fight between two junkies. They both got discharged. You're not going to be Henry Fonda!

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Replying to Portia Nina Levin:
Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
20th Mar 2013 15:10

12 angry men, well 9

mumpin wrote:

One of my clients spent a week listening to a blow by blow account of a fight between two junkies. They both got discharged. You're not going to be Henry Fonda!

I was that man, 9 wanted guilty at the outset ended with unanimous aquitall - CPS were useless.

It was a great experience and I'd do it again.

Unless you've got a decent excuse (tax return deadline is a good one) do it, I would.

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By Flash Gordon
20th Mar 2013 14:39

Harsh

I think that was a bit harsh Andy. After all, there's no guarantee the OP will actually be hearing  case as half the time you're stucking waiting to see if you're needed. So the OP should put his livelihood on the line just on the off-chance he's needed? And as for working before 10am and after 4pm, what about travelling to and from court? And how good a job are you going to do if you've been occupied all day and then have to go home and try to get through a day's work in the evening?

I'm not convinced they'd accept it as an excuse though - the people responsible for these things don't live in the real world. Can you not ring them up and ask (without giving your real name!) - a 'hypothetical' question...

 

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David Winch
By David Winch
20th Mar 2013 14:41

Two week limit

If, when you turn up at court, you find you are selected for a case which is expected to last more than two weeks then you can ask to be switched to a different case (because you would have difficulty being away from work for more than a fortnight).  Of course you need to speak to the usher about this BEFORE the jury are sworn in.

Also if you are picked for a case involving financial crime have a quiet word with the court usher before the case starts and explain that you are an accountant.  As a result you will probably be switched away from a case involving accountancy issues.

If you do find yourself on a jury hearing a case in which accountancy expertise is relevant then be careful NOT to let your fellow jury members know that you are an accountant and do NOT offer any accountancy insights to other jury members.  You are there as a member of the public - not as an accountant!

David

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By andy.partridge
20th Mar 2013 14:43

I take not a word back

I've done jury service twice and, surprise surprise, lost no clients, missed no deadlines. And you know what, it really wasn't that difficult. 

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By Number Juggler
20th Mar 2013 15:19

It's a huge responsibility

Imagine being on a jury that sends someone to prison, only to discover later that he was innocent?  Alternatively imagine setting someone free, only to discover that they had gone on to rape (or whatever) again?  Of course, in all likelihood you will end up trying two minor cases and spend half your time hanging around in case you're needed.

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Replying to Portia Nina Levin:
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By BKD
20th Mar 2013 15:58

Responsibility

Number Juggler wrote:

Imagine being on a jury that sends someone to prison, only to discover later that he was innocent?  Alternatively imagine setting someone free, only to discover that they had gone on to rape (or whatever) again? 

Shouldn't be a problem. Provided that all available evidence and argument has been properly considered by all members of the jury (ideally with a unanimous verdict) then I'd sleep comfortably at night, even if subsequent evidence came to light that over-turns that verdict. Where I feel less at ease is where someone, quite obviously guilty, walks away scot-free because someone forgot to date a form or signed it in the wrong place.

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By mwngiol
20th Mar 2013 15:36

Trial by jury

I'm not sure what the OP is saying. Seems to be saying that any sole trader should be exempted from jury service?

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Replying to Catbarbelman:
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By geroge
20th Mar 2013 15:51

I just want to clarify whether the Jury Service would consider a sole practitioner without staff to have an 'excuse' in principle - not really interested in dicussing the rights and wrongs of it, but depends on the hardship caused in each individual case.

If the Jury service do allow it, then yes, any sole trader without staff could make an application to be excused, and if not, fine. I'd like to know people's experiences before returning my Jury form.

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Replying to Oilfrost:
By Number Juggler
20th Mar 2013 15:56

Damage not inconvenience

geroge wrote:

If the Jury service do allow it, then yes, any sole trader without staff could make an application to be excused, and if not, fine. I'd like to know people's experiences before returning my Jury form.

It's not that simple. You would have to show that it damaged your business. For example a shop keeper with no staff would clearly suffer serious loss of trade by being forced to close for 2 weeks. However, an accountant, who could call clients in the evening and do the accounts in a couple of weeks time, would not.  You need to be able to prove damage to the business, not mere inconvenience, to be excused jury duty.
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By Flash Gordon
20th Mar 2013 15:47

@ mwngiol

It seems to me that OP is saying that if you're solely responsible for your business and have no alternative way of the work getting done then you should be able to get out of jury service at that point. Otherwise you're risking losing your business which you've worked hard to build up while Little Johnny Layabout gets his benefits regardless and Little Jenny PAYE gets paid her salary too. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

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By stevie
20th Mar 2013 15:55

Tell them you're busy

I was asked to do jury service, told them I was busy and they deferred it. Each subsequent time they asked I said I was still busy and they gave up on me!

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By Ding Dong
20th Mar 2013 15:59

a tough one

I agree, that going on (say) two weeks jury service could impact your clients as you are not there to attend to requirements.

However the clerk of the court might see it as an excuse trying to get out of it and say back to "so you never go on holiday do you" (or similar).

In my case I would do teh service but (politely) request from the clerk that the Jury service does not take place in (say) the last two weeks of the month when you operate many employees payrolls.

Your clients will understand, they are human. If they are that demanding that jury service will upset them as you are not at their beck and call - I wouldn't want them anyway!

I think any excuse may be considered weak by the court (I won't be as harsh as Mr Partridge!!)

 

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Replying to kaff:
By mwngiol
20th Mar 2013 16:38

You work 52 weeks a year?

Ding Dong wrote:

However the clerk of the court might see it as an excuse trying to get out of it and say back to "so you never go on holiday do you" (or similar).

That's pretty much what I'd be asking too. I'd understand if the OP was saying that he's having a busy spell and wanted to defer it. But saying "I'm busy and I always will be" just sounds like someone who doesn't want to do it.

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Replying to Alice07:
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By andy.partridge
20th Mar 2013 16:50

Agreed

mwngiol wrote:

But saying "I'm busy and I always will be" just sounds like someone who doesn't want to do it.

Accept that it's one of those duties that makes you a good citizen and enjoy it. Wriggling panders to a certain negative public perception of us.

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Replying to Alice07:
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By geroge
20th Mar 2013 17:10

No, you have got the wrong impression if you think I just don't want to do it - as others have said it could be quite interesting. The point is that as a sole practitioner with no staff who is busy throughout the year, it is much more difficult to handle I suspect than most other people called up.

The holiday point is not comparable - on holiday you can take your laptop with you and be quite flexible when you do the work; on Jury service  work will need to catch up in the evenings and weekends when you may well be quite tired. Having regular payroll to run adds to the mix.

I wanted to learn the Courts attitude to that scenario - they may well take the view that there are numerous other people they can select for whom the inconvenience is significantly less (e.g. employees where work can be reallocated), balancing civic duty with practical considerations. If not, that's fine too.

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By peaky99
20th Mar 2013 16:15

Appeared before Crown Court Judge and gave reasons for not being called. Judge accepted reason i.e. stocktake audit around April but was given lecture on all citizens have a duty to do their bit. That was in 1990s believe there is now an exemption for all self employed.Judge didn't mention he was going to share his salary ¬!

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By jjswjjsw
20th Mar 2013 16:28

I've done it

I was called for Jury Service and had it deferred as I was due to go on holiday immediately after the court dates so potentially could have had a month away. In the end I was in court for 2-3 days of the fortnight, although I could have had a call on any of the remaining days to tell me that I was to attend court the following day. 

As I work on-site during the day (and from home out of hours) I couldn't necessarily cover the work in the evenings/weekends but my clients were understanding and for those where I could work outside normal hours I had arranged access so their work would still be completed. I also ensured I didn't take any holiday near the Jury Service period. 

I had to reschedule the workload to accommodate my Jury Service and my business lost income because I could not complete all the work that I normally would have done and I had to delegate some elsewhere.

When I first received the summons I considered applying to be excused but I didn't think being a sole practitioner would count as a reasonable excuse since I do have the occasional holiday and have to have arrangements in case of sickness. I had no hesitation in deferring the date to a more convenient time of year. With hindsight I was lucky not to be in Court longer but I'm glad I've had the experience of sitting on a Jury and seeing how the Court runs. 

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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
20th Mar 2013 16:29

Its not as bad as you think

I did it a few years back, there is a lot of sitting around but they usually select the jury by around 11.00am on first day. If your not selected you get sent home, to come back following day. I got a 3 day trial in first week then a 1 day on second week then was discharged on the Tuesday. Most cases only last a day as they involve drunks fighting on a Friday night (in Newcastle anyway). You get plenty of breaks and you can keep in touch via emails on your laptop so I would do it as it wont cause that much headache really, just a slight inconvenience.

clear your desk before you go and it wont be too much of an issue, you might even find it interesting. I dont think you can get out of it easily as they wanted me to do it when I was on holiday which I informed them of thinking that would be the end of it, but they put me on as soon as I came back. You can claim for your loss of earnings so I wouldnt think it should cause you too much hassle unless it fell in say January.

As an intelligent person it is your civic duty to do it as some right do nuts end up on the panel.

I was on an assault case where someone had been tried it on with the guys wife, and he took a baseball to him for his troubles. I was stuck as the foreman with 3 retards who claimed " well we think he did do it but we are voting innocent as the kid deserved it" longest 2 hours of my life explaining that if he did it, he was guilty and it was up to the judge to take into account any provication when he sentenced him.

If you think you practice will fold as you are not there for a few days do you never take a holiday or what would happen if you were ever ill. As for the excuse that clients will incur fines for late submission of accounts etc that wont wash with anyone. You get 9 months to file accounts anyone that brings the books in with 2 weeks to go should be fined anyway as they are not treating the director duties seriously.

Get it done then post your experience on here.

 

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Replying to carnmores:
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By geroge
20th Mar 2013 16:42

Thanks Glennzy and others for the input - I'll probably ask for deferment as its scheduled for a busy time; looks like being excused altogether is not on the cards.

I do take holidays, but I take my laptop with me and can do payroll etc whilst away - would be useful if they allow laptops on site so I can access it during breaks. Haven't had a major illness yet, does worry me but haven't been able to sort an alternate yet.

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Quack
By Constantly Confused
20th Mar 2013 16:45

I had it while on placement

During the later months of my placement year at Uni I got called up.  I asked to defer and they said 'fine, next time we ask you WILL be coming, no iffs no buts'.  I asked when this would be and they said May, aka middle of my exams time.

So I pretty much had to go (in hindsight I imagine 'I'm doing the exams that I've spent 4 years studying for' would have been a reasonable excuse).  I spent 2 weeks from 9 till 4 and all I did was read, play on my Gameboy and read some more.  Then they said I was free to go.

Some would call that dull, I call 10 days of being paid to read Thomas Harris and Bernard Cornwell some sort of heaven.

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By Moonbeam
21st Mar 2013 09:19

I was let off because I said I was sole person in business

I do agree it could be awkward being away from business for 2 weeks. I have never been on holiday for more than a week since I started.

When I was asked to do Jury Service several years ago I just told them I ran my own business on my own and I couldn't do it and they were fine about it.

Looking at the comments of all the people above who did do jury service, I think I would now do this, with the 2 week proviso, as I feel I should be doing my duty. I didn't know it was possible to do a minimum amount of time before.

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By Steve Holloway
21st Mar 2013 10:11

Wouldn't it be better David ...

if jurors were selcted for aptitude rather than randomly? I know nothing of the plight of someone living on benefits and I would expect them to have little insight in to a complex fraud case. Strikes me that the whole process is flawed.

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Replying to Smokoe Joe:
By cfield
21st Mar 2013 11:13

Claim for any lost earnings

I did jury service a couple of years ago (a murder case at the Old Bailey no less) and fitting in work wasn't really a problem. Bring your laptop and mobile and do some work during the breaks (of which there are many) so long as you don't miss the call for your case and turn up after the others are all in the jury box!

Being self-employed, I had to get another accountant to verify my expenses, so get one of your mates in the profession to do this. Shouldn't be hard to justify the maximum rate.

Half the days you get sent home early. The other half you're either waiting ages in the jury room or sent out into the corridor whilst they debate legal points. Plenty of time to check your e-mails and type some replies.

The only quibble I had was that they have the cheek to charge you for using their WiFi. Loads of complaints about that in the comments book but all they do is fob you off with woolly excuses.

If you really want to get off, turn up wearing a suit and tie on your first day. Chances are the defence team will challenge you (as someone clearly capable of seeing through their nonsense) and you'll be stood down from that jury.

I think anyone capable of stringing more than 20 words together would automatically have greater weight given to their views, whether they're an accountant or not. In fairness, most jurors are sensible people whether they're unemployed or not. You do get a few planks but they tend not to contribute much to the deliberations. It's the ones who don't know they're planks that are the problem!

I don't really buy the "can't spare the time" argument for the self-employed as employees are equally busy people. If one of your staff is called for jury service that's going to cause you just as much disruption. It's not so bad these days anyway with modern technology allowing you to work remotely.

The most traumatic thing for me in my case is that the murder happened on the day Man Utd lost 4-1 at home to Liverpool and they kept making references to the accused watching the match in the pub. I looked on the expenses form but there was no section for claiming damages for bringing back bad memories!

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Replying to andy.partridge:
David Winch
By David Winch
21st Mar 2013 20:06

Wearing a suit

cfield wrote:

If you really want to get off, turn up wearing a suit and tie on your first day. Chances are the defence team will challenge you (as someone clearly capable of seeing through their nonsense) and you'll be stood down from that jury.

What is known as 'peremptory challenge' (being challenged because one side or the other would prefer you not to be on the jury - but for no other reason) was abolished by the Criminal Justice Act 1988 - so being de-selected for wearing a suit should not happen any more.

There was a more recent case of a juror being sent home to change his tee-shirt (which had in very large letters [***] on the chest).  The judge apparently considered this disrespectful.

But you can be challenged if you demonstrate obvious potential bias - perhaps wearing a tie or blazer carrying certain insignia might rule you out (e.g. an Eton tie where the defendant is an Old Etonian).

Also you are supposed to 'own up' if you are a friend or relative of the defendant or a witness and rule yourself out.

If you have a criminal record that can rule you out of jury service (I understand that every potential juror is routinely checked against the CRB database).

In certain special trials (e.g. terrorism / national security) potential jurors might be subject to additional background checks.

On a different point, if you do have a criminal record and you are a WITNESS in a criminal trial be prepared for both prosecution and defence counsel to know about your record and perhaps bring it up in questioning you!

David

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Replying to Smokoe Joe:
David Winch
By David Winch
21st Mar 2013 20:11

Aptitude

Steve Holloway wrote:

Wouldn't it be better if jurors were selected for aptitude rather than randomly? I know nothing of the plight of someone living on benefits and I would expect them to have little insight in to a complex fraud case. Strikes me that the whole process is flawed.

That would be a different system!

One could also suggest that it might be better if trials were organised so as to discover the truth rather than as a battle between prosecution and defence (in other words an inquisitorial system rather than an adversarial one).  But that would involve overturning hundreds of years of legal precedent!

David

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By David Gordon FCCA
21st Mar 2013 11:38

Jury service

 You may get deferment if you have a valid reason.

 As a sole practitioner, with a couple fo staff, but no other "Fee earners" , and with wages and  business loans and s/o to pay, The court accepted that there would be real financial loss.

Also:Being an accountant does affect your viewpoint, and that of other jurors.

The real difficulty is, you may not know the time cost. Court hearings are funny things in this respect.

Another thing:

it is the rule that if a person represents themself at a hearing there is no payment for personal time, but

As an sole practitioner accountant working on a time basis, if you can persuade the judge you have actually lost time fees because of the matter, the judge may award you costs for your time.

One time I sued BT over harrasment regarding a £25 (unjustifed) telephone bill. I had submitted a time costing sheet. The judge awarded me four hours time costs for the hearing and preparation.

 

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By fionahowells
21st Mar 2013 12:02

Cost of time

I was called over 10 years ago and had to give an estimate of the costs - for me using public transport the costs were so horrendous they told me not to bother!! It was a shame as I quite fancied it - they've not asked since!

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By steve 12321
22nd Mar 2013 11:32

Should be possible

I have managed to get off twice on the basis that I have to be present to run my business and any absence beyond my control would potentially be damaging to the business and I need to support my staff. So request that you be excused and it should be granted.

Steve

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By jasonholden
22nd Mar 2013 11:43

.

There are enough intelligent retired people, unemployed people etc in the country to chose from, choosing someone who runs a business on their own is a typical inconsiderate state approach, those who have likened this to going on holiday is also utter rubbish, going on jury service is not anything like the pleasure of going on holiday for which you plan and look forward too after working hard all year as we do.

As others have said I would explain that being on jury service as a sole trader who is the sole earners and point of contact for clients and HMRC would damage your business and at a time of dare I say it 'third dip recession' surely this should be enough then they can chose from the retired, unemployed or what about civil servants there are enough of them who are already funded from our taxes that we work hard to pay.

 

Jason

 

PS I am sure I will get stick from some quarters on this, but everyone is entitled to their opinion, it doesn't have to aline with others.

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By Robert Clubb
22nd Mar 2013 11:51

Yeah But...No But!

I do not propose to rehearse the pros and cons, success or failure of pleading to be let off JS. What is intriguing to me, as a serving magistrate, is the fact that there is a perception that every case the truth will out, the guilty convicted and the innocent found not guilty. That’s a very naïve view and one that often is not even relevant.

The UK judicial service is not perfect but, certainly in the magistrates’ court, the benefit is usually given to the defendant, on the strength of evidence. Sometimes that is even when you might know that the defendant is a rogue, but the CPS have not proved, in that particular instance, that he committed this particular crime.

So, if the enquirer or any readers fear that the may not get it right, that’s understandable. But that’s not the test. If the evidence is not presented in sufficient clarity and volume to support a conviction, then they walk, EVEN if they are guilty.

Save for going back to the ducking stool, there does not seem to be a better alternative.

 

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Replying to DJKL:
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By jasonholden
22nd Mar 2013 12:11

.

Robert

Can I ask, do you find being a JP worthwhile, I have toyed with the idea.

Jason

 

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By euanjohn
22nd Mar 2013 12:36

Jury service

I sympathise.  I was called up last year, and I rang to say exactly the same - I was a sole practitioner and the country couldn't afford to do without the tax I was helping to collect via my clients (!).  I was told I had two choices - turn up on the appointed date, or be fined £1,000.  Naturally, I chose the former.  But the night before my jury service, I got a call to say the trial had been cancelled, and they didn't need me any more.  Result!

So if you do agree to it - and I wasn't given much choice - you may not get lumbered with it after all.

Incidentally, my wife was called up as well, and she did not get such a lucky break.  She said that the majority of her fellow jurors were illiterate, irrationally prejudiced, or both, and she ended up cynical of the whole process.  She added that if she was ever found standing over my body with a smoking gun in her hand, she would plead not guilty, and thought there was a fair chance she would get away with it.  On all levels, I didn't find her comments terribly reassuring.

Good luck!

 

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By Robert Clubb
22nd Mar 2013 12:39

Very Much So....

I always aspired to be a JP form school days. Far too many free periods were spent in the public gallery my tutors might have commented, had they known.

Most of the qualities that a good accountant should have are ideal for the magistracy. You have to have an open mind, listen or look at the data/information provided, listen to any colleagues’ views and reach a decision by a structured procedure (you are trained in that), follow legal advice, especially Court of Appeal Guidelines.

Yes, it does take around one day fortnightly out of my working week, but I find it very satisfying. Some play golf as frequently, I don't.

For a day, I receive loss of earnings of the equivalent of just over one hour charge-out, so you can’t make a living from it.  I could never say that I ‘enjoy’ it, because that might suggest that its fun. Rarely so, as you are dealing with people’s lives and often long-term futures.

The procedure for applying is simple and you should find details online. Fill in the forms and be very patient. It can take years. Sometimes you don’t even get an interview. Sometimes you receive a ‘Dear John’ letter even if you are suitable, because there is not a slot for the person who has your characteristics. It would be wrong for there to be any bias towards most having a similar political/religious/ethnic backgrounds etc etc.

Go for it..................

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By raybackler
22nd Mar 2013 12:47

Jury service was re-arranged

I just explained that when I was called for Jury service I had a problem with imminent client deadlines.  I was then asked to tell them when I could do it and it was duly re-arranged to a quieter time.

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By [email protected]
22nd Mar 2013 13:08

Which court? Be wary

Many years ago I did jury service in Liverpool. I'd deferred a couple of times but couldn't wriggle out of it. Lots of courts and a huge pool of jurors (300?).  Complete waste of time and a real eyeopener!

Some years on one of our team was on the list for Chester. At  Chester there are much fewer courts and much smaller pool of jurors. An 8 week trial was about to commence and many selected jurors made their excuses and were excluded. Our guy was called up later in the process but by this time the ratio was getting very tight and the judge was getting tough / desparate. Faxed complaint letter and a difficult phonecall couldn't get him out of it. We lost him for the duration.

Be wary of smaller courts!

     

 

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Giraffe
By Luke
22nd Mar 2013 13:34

Magistrate applications

Sorry to continue to derail this, but I too have for many years thought I would like to become a magistrate in the future.  My father was a magistrate when I lived at home so it is something I have always been interested in. It is interesting to hear what Robert says, sadly I lost the perception that the truth will out after being a witness in a crown court trial aged 18 so understand it is all about reasonable doubt and not necessarily the truth unfortunately.

Fast forward to now and in the last couple of weeks I have been investigating becoming a magistrate more closely and decided I would apply, so I went online, got the information and found that, in most of the country, there are no applications currently being accepted. The link below details recruitment plans for different areas in 2013.

http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/courts/magistrates-advisory-committees.pdf

I feel somewhat deflated that finally having decided I could commit to it that it will now have to wait.  It’s something to put on the backburner for me for now but I do very much look forward to applying and hopefully getting accepted in the future.

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By Robert Clubb
22nd Mar 2013 14:08

Sorry To Here That Luke....

I didn't realise that it was a large scale problem.

Certainly the Fixed Penalties handed out by the Police have resulted in a reduction in our work. However, in Essex their are an unprecedented number of resignations.

So, keep half an eye open for a change in stategy.

Don't give up.............your Country Needs You!

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By 41115BARRI
22nd Mar 2013 14:29

What's with the "Don't you go on holiday" point

I do, and quite regularly for one, two or even four weeks at a time - BUT I always have my phone on and always ensure I have wifi available. I am in very regular contact with my office, reviewing all incoming and outgoing post on a daily basis (all scanned into Docusoft) - that's how I manage to take so many holidays - will the Court allow me that facility, I think not! So the question of holidays is, for me and many others I suspect, a totally irrelevant one.

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By moneymanager
22nd Mar 2013 17:33

Pain in the back

On thread, I quite genuinely was flat on my back when I got the call; no possibility of sitting for a few minutes let alone days. Instant defferal. Same thing a year later bus this time admonished for not having said itwas a recuuring problem! Never called again. Pity really becasue the strength of a jury systems is only as good as the jurors. I wonder how representative any '12' are of society?

David Winch 'One could also suggest that it might be better if trials were organised so as to discover the truth rather than as a battle between prosecution and defence', which rather goes to the point on HMRC 'naming and shaming'. They can only do that if the law is decided in their favour. Law is binary so only one party can ever 'win' except of course the lawyers who ALWAYS win. Should HMRC (and politicians) be compeled to give equally prominence where the tax (non)payer wins?

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Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
23rd Mar 2013 16:52

Clients take holidays and go on jury service

If you asked them if it was OK to take a couple of weeks off, they'd laugh at you, how many ask you before taking their holiday or going on jury service.

As others have said, I spent half of the 2 weeks in the court cafe, with my laptop.  Despite the case being about as horrible as you could imagine, it was an interesting experience (far more than doing accounts) plus it's a responsibility that comes with living in the UK.

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David Winch
By David Winch
24th Mar 2013 12:08

Line drawing

I think the legal position is that in the jury room you can use your common sense, and YOU can use your own specialist knowledge in reaching your conclusion on the verdict - but what you should NOT do is share any of your specialist knowledge with other jury members.

If you do share your specialist knowledge then you are in effect supplying other jury members with 'evidence' in the jury room.  But the jury is required to make its decision on the basis of the evidence it hears in court - and ONLY that evidence.

Any 'evidence' heard only in the jury room cannot be subject to the usual 'test' that it can be challenged in cross-examination.

For a similar reason there can be legal issues about jurors who, for example, want to take home documents produced in the case so that they can study them (a definite NO-NO) or want to take documents produced in the case into the jury room to look at again whilst they are considering their verdict (might be allowed by the judge in relation to particular documents - but only after anxious debate amongst the lawyers!).

There was a case in which the jury (having retired to consider their verdicts) asked to be provided with samples of cheques which had NOT been expressly produced in evidence (but which had been referred to during the hearing).  These were provided to them.  They convicted the defendant.  The conviction was quashed on appeal because the jury had received this further 'evidence' after retiring to consider their verdict.

David

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