Approval for the employment of expert witnesses procedures and timings

You must obtain our prior approval to employ any expert witness, whether for a report or to give evidence in court [regulation 14(1) of the Criminal Legal Aid (Scotland) Regulations 1996].

Procedure for applying for prior approval

You must use the online system in all cases. This means that we get all the basic information and papers (in the form of attachments) needed for a prompt decision.

You should provide the following information:

  • the complaint – where the application for an expert relates to a summary prosecution
  • the petition or indictment – where the application relates to a solemn prosecution
  • a copy of the note of appeal, stated case, bill of advocation or bill of suspension – where the application relates to an appeal
  • a copy of the expert’s quote
  • a copy of a comparative quote where one is required
  • the original report – where the request is for a supplementary report should be made available
  • where the request is for a second opinion after initial unsupportive expert input, the solicitor should provide a copy of the original report.

Timing of application for prior approval

Generally, you should apply for any form of authority as soon as possible.

For expert witnesses, however, you should not ask for prior approval until it is clear that a specific expertise will be needed to advance the case and that a particular expert is available to provide the necessary evidence.


Where an expert has been employed under advice and assistance

Where we have granted an increase in authorised expenditure under advice and assistance for a report from an expert, you must still apply for approval for the expert to carry out any further work.

We require details of:

  • the expert you intend to instruct, their location and their hourly rate
  • why this particular expert is required.

You must give a detailed breakdown of the expert’s costs. If insufficient details are provided we will continue the application for the required information.

Where the costs of the work proposed exceed £800 we will continue the application for sight of a comparative quote if one has not been provided or no explanation has been given for the lack of comparative quote. Where there are limited experts in a particular field and sufficient explanation is provided we can dispense with the need for another quote.

Where the cost of the work proposed does not exceed £800 but the hourly rate quoted is high for the particular type of work, we may continue the application for a comparative quote.

Where the costs of the work exceed £800 and a comparative quote has been provided but there is significant disparity between the quotes in terms of work hours and/or cost (including the hourly rate) we may continue the application for a further quote.

We can grant an application where a full breakdown of costs is provided and:

  • the cost of the expert appears reasonable for the work required and the hourly rate is in line of that charged by other experts in the same field of expertise
  • the cost of the report is under £800 and the hourly rate is reasonable
  • the cost of the report exceeds £800 and no comparative quote has been provided but sufficient explanation has been provided explaining the absence of a comparative quote.

Common reasons for not providing a comparative quote include:

  • the expert required has unique qualifications or expertise and there are no comparable experts.
  • The expert has previous dealings with the assisted person
  • other experts providing reports of the type required are not available (please provide details of who else you have approached)
  • the expert has been sanctioned in another case in which you are instructed and the work required is of the same type and cost.

In situations where you are having difficulty identifying an alternative expert we may be able to assist, although we cannot recommend a particular expert or vouch for the standard of their work.

You may also wish to approach:

  • Law Society’s list of experts
  • agencies who offer expert witness services and online searches
  • universities.

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