Hard-up self-employed can still opt out of juries

By Audrey Young

Photo / Herald on Sunday
Photo / Herald on Sunday

Self-employed people who would face financial hardship if they undertook jury service would still be able to be excused, a spokeswoman for Justice Minister Simon Power said yesterday.

Jury service rules changed on Monday so that avoiding jury service will be harder.

If someone summoned for the time specified cannot make it at that time, jury service will be deferred to another time within 12 months.

The Herald has been contacted by self-employed people worried that it might be harder under the new rules for them to argue that jury service could lead to financial hardship.

The spokeswoman said that the self-employed would be treated the same in future as they are now.

The Juries Act allows the relevant court registrar to exempt people on the basis of undue hardship or serious inconvenience.

"If a summoned juror will experience financial hardship due to serving on a jury, they may apply to be excused or deferred from service on that occasion," the spokeswoman said.

If a juror attends and then experiences exceptional hardship they can apply for increased fees.

The Ministry of Justice does not know how many jurors who are employees have their wages topped up by employers or paid in full.

But payments above the standards fees increased from $12,548 in 2007 to $23,041 in 2008 and then dipped to $21,730 in 2009.

FEES FOR JURORS

First five days

* $31 for each half day.

* or $89 for attendance 6pm to 9pm.

* or $127 if attendance past 9pm.

Six and subsequent days

* $40 for each half day.

* Or $114 for attendance 6pm to 9pm.

* Or $163 if attendance past 9pm.

* Transport, car parking and childcare are paid.

* Employers are not compelled to pay wages for employees on jury duty but many pay the difference between the fees and the usual wage.

* Court registrars have discretion to pay higher fees in cases of special hardship.

- NZ Herald

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