You have been selected for jury service and
these notes have been designed to help you become generally
familiar with your duties as a juror and to know what
to expect in court.
Although you may find that having to serve
as a juror can cause you some inconvenience, please
regard the contribution that you are making to Hong
Kong’s scheme of justice as not just an obligation.
Given the importance of the jury system, your contribution
is also a genuine privilege.
Trial by jury in fact reflects the principle that
a person should be tried by fellow members of his/her
own community. In this way, the legal system maintains
contact with the conscience and attitudes of that community
as expressed in the decisions of jurors. As a juror,
you have a personal responsibility, both to the person
on trial and to the community, to ensure that justice
Normal court hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a
short break at midmorning, and 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Jurors should assemble punctually shortly before 10
a.m. and shortly before 2:30 p.m. so that the trial
can continue at the appropriate hour.
Usually the jurors themselves are required to select
one of their members as foreman. The trial judge will
indicate when this should be done. The judge should
be informed after the selection has been made. The
foreman should seat himself/herself in the first seat
in the jury box.
If you have any personal difficulty during the trial,
raise the matter through the foreman in open court
by way of a question directed to the judge. Routine
queries, such as the situation of court facilities,
should be directed to the court usher.
As a juror, you should not otherwise enter into
conversation with the court usher. Nor should you
speak with counsel, witnesses or other persons connected
with the trial during the course of the trial.
During the course of the trial, you must not discuss
any matters arising out of the trial with your family,
friends or any other persons except your fellow jurors
and even then only within the privacy of the jury room.
If you find difficulty in hearing the evidence or
in following it, bring the matter immediately to the
attention of the trial judge.
The jury may be asked to retire while the court considers
submissions by counsel. This is quite usual during a
criminal trial and you and your fellow members of the
jury should not attach any significance to it. The matters
raised during such applications are questions of law,
which are properly determined by the judge in the absence
of the jury.
A trial will normally proceed along the following lines:
1. Prosecution counsel will outline the case to the
2. Prosecution counsel will call the witnesses, who
will give their evidence-in-chief and then be subjected
to cross-examination by defence counsel. After cross-examination,
prosecution counsel, if he / she sees fit, is entitled
to re-examine his/her witnesses.
3. At the end of the prosecution case, the defence
counsel, if he / she wishes, may call witnesses who
may be cross-examined and re-examined.
4. During the course of the evidence, the judge may
ask questions of a witness in order to clarify any matters.
5. At the end of the evidence, prosecution counsel
will address the jury.
6. Defence counsel will address the jury.
7. Finally, the judge will sum up to the jury, directing
them on points of law and reminding them of the evidence.
You may take notes during the trial if you wish. However,
your main duty is to listen and observe. Listen to everything
that is said and observe the witnesses carefully. Remember
that at the end of the trial, both counsel and the trial
judge will draw your attention to what appear to them
to be the significant parts of the evidence.
After the judge has summed up, the jury is placed in
charge of the court usher. It then retires to consider
its verdict. When the jury retires, it must remain apart
until a verdict has been agreed upon or it is discharged
by the court. During this time, no one is permitted
to have access to the jury, nor are jurors permitted
to speak to anyone except one another.
When you come to your decision, you must disregard
anything that you have heard or read about the trial
outside the court. You must take into account only the
evidence given in court. Any communication that you
or your fellow jurors wish to make must be made to the
judge. Any message to the judge must be written down
and given to the usher.
If you need to let your family know that you have
been required to remain in court while the jury considers
its verdict, you must seek the judge’s permission. You
will normally hand a note, containing only the name
of the person to be contacted and the telephone number,
to the usher.
When a verdict has been reached, the foreman should
tell the usher that this is the case. The court will
then re-assemble and the foreman will be asked by the
clerk to return the verdict.
No. In the interests of open justice and a fair trial,
remember that as a juror you must not, at any time (even
after a trial is over), discuss the trial or the deliberations
in the jury room with members of the media such as reporters,
television interviewers, or indeed with anybody else.
In all general cases, the verdict of the jury is either
"guilty" or "not guilty". All verdicts
can be either unanimous or by a majority, e.g. 6-1 or
5-2. You are required to follow the directions given by
the judge in the summing up.
According to section 32 of the Jury Ordinance, failure
to attend in response to a summons to juror is an offence.
Section 33 of the Jury Ordinance provides that an employer
who terminates, threatens to terminate, the employment
of, or in any way discriminates against, any person
employed by him, for reasons in connection with jury
service commits an offence and is liable upon conviction
to a fine of $25,000 and to imprisonment for 3 months.
An allowance under section 31(1) of the Jury Ordinance (Cap. 3 of the Laws of Hong Kong) is payable to a juror
for each day or part of a day on which the juror serves.
In addition to this allowance, the trial judge has
discretion to order payment of an additional allowance
to a juror. This additional allowance will normally
only be paid upon application by a juror who is suffering
unusual financial loss as a result of jury service.
There are lifts exclusively for the use of jurors serving
the Jury Dining Room and the courts. Please use these
lifts only and not the public lifts, where you may meet
the defendants, their friends and families. Under no
circumstances should you discuss the case in the lifts.
During court break, light refreshments can be ordered
in the Jury Common Room on the first floor. To minimize
the chance of mixing with the defendants and their families,
witnesses and other persons related to the case, members
of the jury are encouraged to use such facility instead
of taking refreshments in the public area.