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].

Guidelines for applying for sanction: application form

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.

Only in the case of a post-mortem which is exceptionally urgent should you apply by telephone, then promptly send us the form CRIM/SANCTION.

You should provide the following information:

  • Name, address, and field of expertise of the proposed expert.
  • An indication of what the expert is to do.
  • The likely costs involved, and how these have been arrived at.
  • Detailed reasons why you wish to employ the expert.

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 sanction 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.

Comparative quotes

We require details of:

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

Detailed applications are extremely helpful for our assessment and will avoid the application having to be refused or continued due to lack of information.

Where the cost of the work proposed exceeds £800.00 the online system automatically asks whether a comparative quote has been obtained. It is accepted that there may be certain situations where it is not possible to obtain a comparative quote and, again, it is helpful if full details are provided.

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 and there is an element of delectus personae.
  • 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.

Comparative quotes required (quote less than £800)

There are instances where we may require comparative quotes even where the costs of the work proposed is under £800.00.

These include:

  • The expert’s hourly rate is in excess of that which we would expect to pay for that particular type of report.
  • The expert is located some distance from the court and we are aware of more locally based experts doing the same work.

Where you provide a comparative quote and there is significant disparity between that quote and the one originally provided we may ask for a third quote to be produced.

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.

Limits on expenditure

If we approve the employment of an expert witness to prepare a report we will normally impose a limit on the cost.

You must:

  • Make the expert fully aware of that limit.
  • Make it clear that if the work is going to cost more you will have to ask us for an increase in the limit to allow the work to continue.

Where you do not draw the limit to the expert’s attention, we can only pay up to the amount authorised and you may personally be liable to the expert for any extra costs.

Where an expert has been told of the limit but that limit has been unavoidably exceeded, we may meet the expert’s reasonable costs if we are satisfied that this is appropriate.

If we sanction the employment of an expert witness subject to a ceiling of expenditure, this does not allow the witness to automatically claim a fee at that ceiling.

We expect to see:

  • A copy of the report.
  • Details of the time engaged on each of the main aspects of the work.
  • A note of the hourly or other rate(s) charged by the expert and by anyone assisting them in parts of the work.
  • Any outlays individually specified.
  • For any travel costs, a note of the form of travel used.
  • Details of any subsistence and overnight accommodation charges.

A global fee for “all work done” is never acceptable.

You may not transfer the balance of any authorised expenditure.

Our accounts assessment staff will be happy to offer guidance if you are ever in any doubt.

Where prior approval is granted, this is on the basis that you should ensure the witness is aware of:

  • The maximum limit of expenditure available at any given time and the need to contact you if it may be exceeded.
  • Their function and is willing in due course, if necessary, to speak to a report in court.
  • The need to lodge, where appropriate, a detailed fee note of the work done, the chargeable hours and the hourly rate.

Expert rates

Unless otherwise approved, the rates should be charged having regard to the fees prescribed:

  • Engaged not more than 1 hour – £82.00
  • Engaged more than 1 hour, but not more than 4 hours – £164.00
  • Engaged more than 4 hours, but not more than 6 hours – £246.00
  • Engaged more than 6 hours – £328.00

Necessary travelling time from residence or place of business shall be included in the computing the fee payable.  Where a locum tenens is engaged or arranged, payment will again be on the basis of the professional witness rates:

  • Engaged not more than 2 hours – £75.00
  • Engaged more than 2 hours, but not more than 4 hours – £112.00
  • Engaged more than 4 hours – £185.00

Mileage is paid at the flat rate of 40p per mile with a maximum Overnight Allowance of £65.00, which must be vouched.

Travelling expenses for an expert witness will be reimbursed at half the hourly rate.

Retrospective grant of sanction

It is possible that we may approve an expert’s employment retrospectively but only in instances where:

  • We would have approved the expert had prior approval been sought.
  • There is a special reason as to why it was not sought.

When making an application for retrospective approval you should provide as much information as possible as to why approval was not applied for earlier.

We do not regard oversight or ignorance of the regulations as a special reason.


There are certain types of expert reports where you can apply using templates which reduce the amount of information you require to provide. A template request can only be made for the first request for sanction of a particular expert in a case.

The templates appear on the online system and include:

Drugs experts (£250)
Firearms experts (£250)
Road traffic experts (£750)
Medical reports (£300)


A template sanction application cannot be used for:

  • Reports from psychiatrists or psychologists.
  • Reports from a general practitioner.

Where a template sanction application is submitted we simply require the name and location of the expert you intend to instruct.

It is important that you:

  • Confirm with the expert that they are able to provide any report instructed within the template limit.
  • Remember that we require to be satisfied that it is reasonable and necessary to instruct a particular expert.

In this section

Approval for an expert witness

Employment of a professional (including witnesses as to fact)

Find out when you need our approval for a professional.

Approval for an expert witness

Employment of expert witnesses

Find out when and how to get approval for an expert witness.