I am summoned as a juror
Who can be a juror?
A juror is a citizen, randomly chosen from the electoral lists, following a procedure rigorously organised by law, to sit on a jury of twelve people.
To be included on the jury list, certain conditions must be met:
- being entered in the register of electors;
- enjoying their civil and political rights;
- being aged between 28 years 65 years at the time of the establishment of the communal lists;
- being able to read and write;
- not having been sentenced to a penalty of imprisonment of more than four months, an electronic surveillance penalty of more than four months, a work penalty of more than 60 hours or an independent probation penalty of one year or more.
How am I summoned?
By summons, performed by a bailiff. The location where you must go is indicated on the document. You must bring the summons (your convocation) and your identity card with you.
What is my role?
The jury is asked to decide on the guilt of the accused who are prosecuted before the Court of Assizes for the most serious crimes in the presence of three professional judges not having a right to vote. The jurors then take part, as the case may be, in the deliberation on the penalties together with the three professional judges composing the court of assizes.
Can I refuse?
In principle, you cannot refuse. The law does not provide for any exemption grounds.
However, those who are summoned as jurors may apply to the president of the Court of Assizes for an exemption (e.g. childbirth during the trial, serious health problems, young child in a single-parent family), who decides whether or not to approve it. Jurors may also be removed (challenged) by one of the parties to the trial, without being told why.
If you believe you have an exemption ground, please send a request for exemption to the attention of the president of the court before the jury selection session.
Then, if you have in the meantime not received a reply, you will be required to go to jury selection session. The president of the court will ask who has applied for exemption (hence the importance of writing beforehand). After having heard you, the president will judge whether your request is justified.
The jury is finally drawn by lot from among the non-exempt candidate jurors, and only one juror drawn by lot can then be challenged. The jury is composed of twelve members. Several substitutes will also be drawn, who will have to attend the hearings with the jurors and who will be called upon to replace those of the actual jurors who are unable to follow the trial to the end, for one reason or another.
Clerk’s office of the Court of Assizes
Palais de Justice
Place Poelaert 1
Floor -1, Room L20
What happens if I do not attend the jury selection session? Or if I leave during the trial?
A non-exempt juror who fails to appear at the Court of Assizes on the day and time set for the opening of the hearing, as well as a juror who leaves before the end of his/ her duty without the permission of the president, faces a fine of 50 up to 1,000 euros.
What are my rights?
- receives a copy of the indictment and the statement of defence (if there is one);
- may ask questions to the witnesses and to the accused;
- may take notes as long as it does not interrupt the debate
What are my duties?
Serving on a jury is a civic duty.
As a member of the jury, you must be present at every hearing, from the beginning to the end of the trial and, in addition, observe the following duties:
- Duty of care: Jurors are required to follow the hearings carefully. Where a member of the jury is manifestly inattentive, the court may, either of its own motion or at the request of one of the parties, replace him or her by a substitute juror.
- Duty of impartiality: Jurors must ensure that they remain impartial and do not express an opinion on the guilt of the accused, the credibility of a witness or the value of a piece of evidence. Any suspicion of bias shall result in the immediate replacement of the jury member concerned. A juror who encourages a witness or lawyer by a gesture or a look, who takes a position on a testimony or who reacts to a testimony, will be replaced.
- Duty of discretion and not to interact with the media: Jury members cannot not be influenced by external persons.
Do I receive an allowance?
Yes, each juror, both effective and substitute, receives an allowance of 48.78 euros per day in addition to his/ her salary. A candidate juror who is summoned and present at the drawing of lots session, but who is not selected to sit on the jury, receives an allowance of 12.03 euros.
Should my employer continue to pay me my salary?
Yes, for the first five days, the employer of an employed juror is obliged to pay him/her normally. From the sixth day onwards, the employer continues to pay the gross daily remuneration, but may later claim reimbursement from the FPS Justice.
Can my employer dismiss me?
No, the employer cannot dismiss an employee because of his/her absence within the framework of its jury duty.
What happens financially if I am self-employed?
The self-employed person is entitled to a daily allowance equal to 1/220 of his/her annual net professional income (last tax notice of assessment).
Are my travel expenses covered?
Yes, for each day that you travel to the court, you are entitled to an allowance per kilometer travelled, calculated according to the book of legal distances (“Livre des distances légales / Boek der wettelijke afstanden”).
In principle, you must live more than 5 km away from the location where the Court of Assizes will hold its hearings in order to claim compensation.
Do I have to provide my own food and drink as a juror?
No, you will not be allowed to take any food or drink with you. Jurors will be provided with food and drink throughout the trial.