Practical guidance to give to witnesses

Witnesses cited to give evidence in a legal aid case are entitled to make a claim for any out of pocket expenses and/or any financial loss incurred for the day(s) they have given evidence in court.

A claim may be made for the following expenses if the relevant evidence is produced.

Travel expenses

We will meet the cost of out of pocket expenses which we assess as being reasonable and necessary.

Receipts need to be produced to vouch for any travel claim submitted. Without the relevant receipts payment cannot be considered.

The assessment will include consideration of the following factors:

  • that the most economical mode of transport has been used.

If the witness has travelled by car we will only pay the mileage rate that is set by HMRC based on the rates in use on the date they travelled. You can find these rates on the HMRC website (link to external site). It is updated every six months in recognition of fluctuating fuel costs. The fuel costs are based on a car with an engine up to 1400cc. We can make no additional allowance for cars with larger engines.

  • we will only make payment for standard class if the witness has travelled on public transport
  • where it is more economical for the witness to fly, we will cover costs for standard class only. A copy of the booking confirmation needs to be produced with any claim for payment
  • you will need to seek prior approval from us if a witness needs to travel from abroad and the costs are likely to exceed £3,000.

Subsistence allowance

You will need to be produce receipts before we can consider reimbursing any costs incurred by a witness.

  • we will pay up to £113.56, inclusive of bed, breakfast and an evening meal, if it is reasonable and necessary for the witness to stay overnight for the purpose of giving evidence in court
  • we will not cover any costs incurred by the witness for alcohol, newspapers, telephone calls and sundries
  • no subsistence is payable for lunch. Costs incurred for breakfast or an evening meal will only be considered where the witness is required to stay in overnight accommodation.

Loss of earnings

Where the witness incurs financial loss we will consider making payment. Our policy follows other relevant rules including the Act of Sederunt in respect of the fees payable to witnesses.

“A person who is cited to give evidence and in consequence incurs financial loss shall be allowed reimbursement, being such sum as the Auditor may determine to have been reasonably and necessarily incurred by the witness, but not exceeding £400 per day.”

We will only make payment in a legal aid case if the following conditions are met:

  • if the witness is employed, we need to receive written confirmation from their employer showing the actual hours lost, the net loss of earnings incurred by them and that these were normal working days. The confirmation should be on an official letterhead and include the name and job title of the person providing the figures
  • if the witness is self-employed we need a letter from their accountant confirming their actual daily net loss of earnings and confirmation that these were normal working days
  • the net loss of earnings needs to be calculated excluding any overtime, shift allowance or any other allowances in normal course of employment. Only the basic daily rate of pay may be claimed for.

We will not meet the cost of any sum claimed if the witness is unable, for whatever reason, to produce evidence in support of their claim.

The maximum that will be paid by us to a witness for loss of earnings is £400 per day (net loss).

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