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Jury Act

[RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 242

Contents
 1 Definitions
Part 1 — Jurors
 2 Jury duty
 3 Disqualification from serving as a juror
 3.1 Criminal record check
 4 Disqualification because of language difficulty
 5 Interpreters and interpretative devices
 6 Exemption from serving as a juror
 7 Exemption for person over age 65
 8 Selection procedure
Part 2 — Juries for Criminal Trials
 9 Repealed
 10 Selection of jurors
 11 Summoning of jurors
 12 Procedure at sitting
 13 Juror exempted from jury service for 2 years
Part 3 — Juries for Civil Trials
 14 Jury for civil trial
 15 Nothing to affect right of trial by jury
 16 Jury for civil trial or by order
 17 Payments to be made by party requiring jury
 18 Qualification and summoning of jurors
 19 Payment of jury fees in civil cases
 20 Challenges
 21 Challenges if there are more than 2 parties
 22 Verdict of 75% of jurors may be received
 23 Omissions to observe directions not to affect verdict
Part 4 — General
 24 Jurors' fees
 25 Only authorized fees allowed
 26 Repealed
 27 Repealed
 28 Repealed
 29 Jurors not attending to be fined
 30 Discharge or death of juror
 31 Certificate of attendance
 32 Form of affirmation for certain persons
 33 Sheriff indemnified for empanelling unqualified persons
 34 Power to make regulations

Definitions

1  In this Act:

"court" means the Supreme Court;

"sheriff" means a person lawfully holding the office of sheriff or lawfully performing the duties of sheriff by way of delegation, substitution, temporary appointment or otherwise;

"sittings" or "sitting" means a sitting of the court for the trial of civil or criminal cases and includes the hearing of a single trial;

"year" means the 12 months commencing on the first day of January.

Part 1 — Jurors

Jury duty

2  A person has the right and duty to serve as a juror unless disqualified or exempted under this Act.

Disqualification from serving as a juror

3  (1) A person is disqualified from serving as a juror who is

(a) not a Canadian citizen,

(b) not resident in British Columbia,

(c) under the age of majority,

(d) a member or officer of the Parliament of Canada or of the Privy Council of Canada,

(e) a member or officer of the Legislature or of the Executive Council,

(f) a judge, justice or court referee,

(g) and (h) [Repealed 2004-23-22.]

(i) an employee of the Legal Services Society or of a funded agency, as defined by the Legal Services Society Act,

(j) a barrister or solicitor,

(k) a court official,

(l) a sheriff or sheriff's officer,

(m) a peace officer,

(n) a warden, correctional officer or person employed in a penitentiary, prison, correctional institution or youth custody centre,

(o) subject to a mental or physical infirmity incompatible with the discharge of the duties of a juror,

(p) a person convicted of an offence under the Criminal Code or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Canada) for whom a record suspension has not been granted under the Criminal Records Act (Canada),

(q) currently charged with an offence under the Criminal Code or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Canada), or

(r) a member of a class of persons prescribed by regulation.

(2) [Repealed 2012-6-8.]

Criminal record check

3.1  (1) For the purposes of determining if a person is disqualified under section 3 (1) (p) or (q), the sheriff may do any of the following:

(a) obtain a criminal record check from national data in the Canadian Police Information Centre database;

(b) check data in the Justice Information System;

(c) obtain a criminal record check from data in a prescribed source or check data in a prescribed source.

(2) The sheriff may obtain a criminal record check or check data under subsection (1) in respect of a juror once the juror has been summoned by the sheriff.

Disqualification because of language difficulty

4  If the language in which a trial is to be conducted is one that a person is unable to understand, speak or read, the person is disqualified from serving as a juror in the trial.

Interpreters and interpretative devices

5  Section 4 does not apply to a person who

(a) would be unable, if unaided, to see or hear adequately for the purpose of serving as a juror, and

(b) will as a juror receive the assistance of a person or device that the court considers adequate to enable the juror to serve.

Exemption from serving as a juror

6  (1) A person may apply to the sheriff to be exempted from serving as a juror on the grounds that

(a) the person belongs to a religion or a religious order that makes service as a juror incompatible with the beliefs or practices of the religion or order, or

(b) serving as a juror may cause serious hardship or loss to the person or to others.

(2) On an application for exemption, the sheriff may

(a) exempt the applicant from serving on the jury for which the applicant is summoned if the sheriff is satisfied that the applicant is entitled to the exemption, or

(b) refuse the exemption if the sheriff is not satisfied that the applicant is entitled to the exemption.

(3) If the sheriff refuses the exemption, the applicant may apply informally and without prior notice or proceedings to the court for exemption on the grounds on which the application to the sheriff was made.

(4) On an application under subsection (3), the court may exempt or refuse to exempt the applicant from serving on the jury for which the applicant is summoned.

Exemption for person over age 65

7  On application to the sheriff, a person over the age of 65 years must be exempted from serving as a juror.

Selection procedure

8  Having regard for the principle in section 2, the sheriff may determine the procedures the sheriff considers appropriate for the selection of jurors.

Part 2 — Juries for Criminal Trials

Repealed

9  [Repealed 2012-6-10.]

Selection of jurors

10  (1) If the Lieutenant Governor in Council has, by order, set times and places for sittings for the hearing of criminal trials with a jury, the sheriff, on receipt of a certified copy of the order must, not less than 15 days before the commencement of the sitting referred to in the order, empanel a sufficient number of jurors for the cases that may be heard during the sitting.

(2) Despite subsection (1), a single jury panel of sufficient numbers may be established to serve a single sitting of a court or 2 or more simultaneous sittings of that court.

(3) A jury selected for a trial is subject to the direction of the presiding judge for the duration of that trial.

(4) In addition to the sittings referred to in subsection (1), a judge may set a date for a criminal trial to be heard before a court composed of a judge and jury.

(5) On the request of the registrar, the sheriff must empanel a sufficient number of jurors for a criminal trial for which a date is set under subsection (4).

Summoning of jurors

11  (1) In this section, "electronic signature" means information in electronic form that the sheriff has created or adopted in order to sign a notice and that is in, attached to or associated with the notice.

(2) At least 15 days before the day on which a juror is required to attend a sitting, the sheriff must summon the juror

(a) by delivering a notice to the juror,

(b) by leaving a notice for the juror, in case of the juror's absence from the juror's usual residence or place of business, with a person who resides at the juror's usual residence or is employed at the juror's place of business and who appears to be at least 16 years of age,

(c) by mailing a notice to the last known mailing address of the juror, or

(d) by sending a notice to the last known electronic address of the juror.

(3) Subject to subsection (4), the notice must be in writing, be signed by the sheriff and contain the particulars of the time and date of the sitting the juror is required to attend.

(4) If the notice is sent to an electronic address, the notice must be signed by the sheriff by an electronic signature or be identified by a prescribed method and contain the particulars of the time and date of the sitting the juror is required to attend.

(5) If it appears that a person empanelled to serve on a jury is dead, has moved out of the county or is disqualified, the sheriff may add an additional name to the panel.

(6) If it appears that a person empanelled to serve on a jury is absent or cannot be given notice within the time set out in subsection (2), the sheriff may, at any time before the sittings, empanel an additional person and give the person notice as provided in subsection (2).

(7) At any time before or during a sitting, the sheriff may, if he or she considers it necessary, apply to the court for an order directing the sheriff or any other officer of the court to return an additional number of jurors on giving notice that the court directs.

Procedure at sitting

12  (1) The sheriff may report to the court the names of jurors who have been served but fail to attend.

(2) If an insufficient number of persons empanelled attend the sittings, the sheriff may summon the number of persons, whether qualified or not, necessary to complete the number of persons required.

(3) The sheriff may at any time, in writing or otherwise, summon a person under subsection (2).

Juror exempted from jury service for 2 years

13  A person must not be required to serve on a jury for 2 years after having served as a juror on a trial.

Part 3 — Juries for Civil Trials

Jury for civil trial

14  The trial of a civil case requiring a jury must be tried by a jury empanelled under this Act.

Nothing to affect right of trial by jury

15  Nothing in this Act takes away or prejudices any right of a party to an action to have the action tried by a judge of the court and a jury, as long as the fees for a jury are paid in accordance with this Act.

Jury for civil trial or by order

16  If a jury is required in a civil trial, the jury must be summoned as provided in this Part.

Payments to be made by party requiring jury

17  (1) A party requiring a jury must, before the party is entitled to have the jury summoned, pay to the sheriff

(a) a sum sufficient to pay for the jury and jury process, and

(b) any additional fees prescribed by this Act or the Supreme Court Civil Rules for expenses of a jury and attendance of the sheriff or sheriff's officers.

(2) Before the opening of court on each day of the trial after the days paid for under subsection (1), the party requiring the jury must pay to the sheriff, for each additional day, a sum sufficient to pay the fees referred to in subsection (1).

(3) The sums paid under this section are costs in the cause, unless the judge orders otherwise.

Qualification and summoning of jurors

18  (1) A party requiring a jury must leave, at the office of the sheriff, not less than 45 days' notice of the day, time and place set for the trial.

(2) If given notice under subsection (1), the sheriff must empanel a sufficient number of jurors to attend the court at a day, time and place set for the trial.

(3) If jurors are empanelled under subsection (2), the court must administer to them an oath to give a true verdict according to the evidence.

(4) Section 11 (2) and (3) applies for the purpose of summoning a juror under this section.

(5) If the sheriff is unable to summon all of the jurors selected for service or if any of the persons summoned fail to attend at the time and place for which they are summoned, the sheriff must report the fact to the judge, who may order the sheriff or other proper official to summon the number of persons, whether qualified or not, necessary to complete the number of persons required.

(6) The persons required under an order under subsection (5) may, if necessary, be summoned by word of mouth or in writing at any time.

Payment of jury fees in civil cases

19  (1) The fees to jurors in civil cases must be paid out of the sums deposited with the sheriff for jury fees by the party requesting the jury.

(2) If there is a deficiency, the sheriff must notify the presiding judge of the court who may make an order the judge considers just.

Challenges

20  (1) Eight jurors must be sworn to give their verdict in the proceeding brought before them in the court.

(2) Each party is entitled to challenge any of the jurors for cause.

(3) Subject to section 21, each party is entitled to challenge 4 of the jurors peremptorily.

(4) If separate proceedings are consolidated or ordered to be heard at the same time before the same jury, the entitlement to peremptory challenges must be determined as if the parties to the proceedings were parties to one proceeding.

(5) A judge presiding at a proceeding may direct the order in which peremptory challenges are to be exercised.

Challenges if there are more than 2 parties

21  (1) If there are 2 or more parties on a side, entitlement to peremptory challenges must be determined in accordance with subsections (2) to (8).

(2) Subject to subsections (3), (6), (7) and (8), if there are 2 or more parties on a side, each party on that side is entitled to challenge 2 of the jurors peremptorily.

(3) If 2 or more parties are represented by the same counsel, the parties represented by that counsel are entitled to challenge peremptorily as though they were one party.

(4) For the purposes of this section, a third party, other than one who is a plaintiff or a defendant in the proceeding, is deemed to be a party on the same side as the party who asserts a claim over against the third party.

(5) For the purposes of this section, a person who asserts third party status under the Insurance Act or the Insurance (Vehicle) Act is deemed to be a party on the same side as the insured.

(6) Subject to subsections (7) and (8), no more than 20 peremptory challenges may be exercised in a proceeding.

(7) If the total of 20 peremptory challenges is reached, the judge presiding at the proceeding may adjust entitlement to peremptory challenges.

(8) If the 20 peremptory challenges cannot be divided fairly between the sides and equally between the parties on each side, the judge may allot a total of peremptory challenges that is less than or, in exceptional circumstances, greater than 20, but in no case may a party exercise a number of peremptory challenges greater than if the total of 20 had not been reached.

Verdict of 75% of jurors may be received

22  (1) If a jury does not reach a unanimous verdict within 3 hours from the time it retired to consider its verdict, the judge of the court may receive the verdict of 75% of those jurors.

(2) A verdict under subsection (1) is as binding in all respects and has the same effect as if it had been the unanimous verdict of the full jury.

(3) Nothing in this section applies to any prosecution, suit or other proceeding in respect of any offence or for the recovery of any penalties or forfeitures by or on behalf of the Crown.

Omissions to observe directions not to affect verdict

23  An omission to observe the directions contained in this Part respecting the qualifications and selection of jurors is not a ground for impeaching the verdict or judgment rendered in a civil case.

Part 4 — General

Jurors' fees

24  (1) A person sitting as a juror at a trial is entitled to be paid

(a) an allowance for necessary and reasonable expenses, and

(b) a prescribed fee for each day that the person is required to attend at a sitting or a trial.

(2) [Repealed 2012-6-13.]

(3) At the discretion of the sheriff, a person sitting as a juror at a trial or a sitting that takes 50 days or longer may be paid a prescribed fee for a day that the person is required to attend at the trial or the sitting but the trial or the sitting is cancelled for that day at short notice.

Only authorized fees allowed

25  A juror is entitled only to the fees or allowances provided under this Act.

Repealed

26  [Repealed 2012-6-14.]

Repealed

27  [Repealed 2012-6-14.]

Repealed

28  [Repealed 2012-6-14.]

Jurors not attending to be fined

29  (1) A juror who does not appear when called is not entitled to any fee or expenses for the day or part of the day on which the juror is absent.

(2) For each absence of a day or part of a day, a juror is liable to a fine as may be imposed by the court.

Discharge or death of juror

30  (1) A court may discharge a juror if, before or during a trial, the court considers that the juror should not, because of illness or other reasonable cause, act or continue to act.

(2) If during a trial a juror dies or is discharged, the jury is, unless the court otherwise directs and as long as the number of jurors is at least 6, properly constituted for all purposes of the trial and the trial may proceed and a verdict may be given.

Certificate of attendance

31  On application by a juror who has attended and served on a panel, the sheriff must deliver to the juror a certificate testifying to the juror's attendance and service on the panel.

Form of affirmation for certain persons

32  (1) Instead of being sworn in the usual form, a person summoned as a juror may make a solemn affirmation or declaration in accordance with the Evidence Act and may serve as a juror as if the person had been sworn.

(2) In any record or proceeding relating to the case, it may be stated that the juror was sworn, affirmed or made the declaration.

Sheriff indemnified for empanelling unqualified persons

33  If a person is named in the list of jurors for a year, and a sheriff empanels the person as a juror under this Act, the sheriff is indemnified for empanelling the person even if the person may not have been qualified or liable to serve as a juror for that year.

Power to make regulations

34  (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations referred to in section 41 of the Interpretation Act.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations as follows:

(a) respecting the allowances and fees, if any, payable under section 24;

(a.1) prescribing a class of persons the members of which are disqualified from serving as jurors;

(a.2) prescribing sources for the purposes of section 3.1 (1) (c);

(a.3) defining "electronic address" for the purposes of section 11;

(a.4) prescribing methods for the purposes of section 11 (4);

(b) for any other matter necessary or advisable to carry out this Act.

(3) A regulation under subsection (2) (a) may

(a) provide for different allowances and fees for different classes of persons, or

(b) provide that no allowance or fee is payable to a class of persons.