17 Aug 2015

Jurors owed almost $1 million

2:29 pm on 17 August 2015

Thousands of people have not collected money owed to them for sitting on juries, with almost $1 million remaining unclaimed.

no caption

Ministry of Justic figures reveal 13,000 juror payment cheques have not been cashed during the past five years. Photo: RNZ

Ministry of Justice figures reveal more than 13,000 juror payment cheques have not been cashed during the past five years.

Since 2010, 270,000 juror payments have been made but 13,404 are yet to be banked.

That means $900,000 lies unclaimed by jurors for their services in the High Court and District Court.

The ministry said the unclaimed money stayed in its bank for six years before going to Treasury but jurors could still make a claim for the owed money.

It said it offered to transfer funds electronically to jurors' bank accounts, an option which was becoming increasingly popular.

The figures reveal that the number of payments to people performing jury service has also dropped, from 62,263 in 2011 to 47,456 last year.

Jurors are paid $31 for every half day they spend in court. After five days, that payment rises to $40 per half day. The amount increases further if jurors are required to be in court between 6pm and 9pm, reaching $89 per day for the first five days, and $114 there after.

If jurors stay after 9pm, they receive $127 per day, or $163 if they have been serving more than five days.

Jurors may also claim $80 each day for professional childcare, and can be reimbursed for parking costs.

Criminal Bar Association president Tony Bouchier said jurors were not collecting the money owed for the service because it was not worth the trouble.

Many did not know they were entitled to the payments, while others believed the sum was so small it was not worth collecting it.

Mr Bouchier said jurors should be entitled to more.

"People are taking away themselves away from a day's work. Many people are self-employed and it's actually costing them to provide their services to the jury, so when I says a meaningful sum, a sum that covers more than just parking," he said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs