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].
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:
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 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:
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:
Common reasons for not providing a comparative quote include:
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:
Approval for an expert witness
Additional guidance on specific expert witnesses – defence post mortems, drug experts, psychologists, psychiatrists, forensic accountants