Small businesses call for review of jury duty rules in Scotland

Dressmaker Mette Baillie says jury duty has impacted her trade during peak season after being called up four times in three years.

Small business owners are calling for a review of jury duty rules in Scotland including full exemptions for the self-employed and longer notice periods.

Edinburgh-based dressmaker, Mette Baillie, owns Freja Designer Dressmaking, which focuses on wedding dresses.

July is one of her busiest periods as the wedding season is in full swing but says jury duty is having an impact on her trade.

Mette said: “Recently we have been called and called and called for jury service and it’s frustrating because in one way we understand that in democracy, we need to have these services and this needs to happen, but it’s just really hard on the business.

Jury duty can have a 'really hard' impact on small businesses, Mette said

“We’ve got wedding dresses booked up 18 months in advance so to only get four weeks notice to have a staff member or me go missing for weeks on end it’s just not possible it can actually be the final thing to tip us over.”

Mette added that she has been called for jury service every year for the last three years while a member of staff was called in April and despite writing to the court and being excused, she was then called again just a few months later.

She’s now joining calls for a review of jury service rules in Scotland after the Federation of Small Businesses wrote to the Justice Secretary.

Stacey Dingwall from the FSB said: “We’d like a consideration of exempting small business owners, all the self-employed together. Or, if not all together, we would like to look at the possibility of exempting those groups of people from the longer, more complicated trials where they’re having to take three, four weeks out of their business.

Mette Baillie has been called up four times in three years

“Apart from that we’d like to look at how much notice you’re given for jury duty so we’re hearing about four weeks that some members are getting, if we could get up to three months notice that would certainly help our members plan their work more around the jury duty.

Justice Secretary, Angela Constance, said: “I very much recognise that small businesses are the backbone of our community and I want to thank anyone who has given their time and served on a jury. The Sheriff Clerk does of course have discretion to take people’s circumstances into consideration.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service said: “Potential jurors in court cases are cited at random, using information from the Electoral Register.

“At the point of citation the court will not be aware of the individual circumstances of each potential juror, given the numbers involved.

“Jurors can apply for an excusal should it cause abnormal inconvenience either to themselves or others.”

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