Expert witnesses in legal aid cases

Guidance about expert witnesses in cases funded by legal aid, including fees, prior authority and provisions for specific types of expert.

Applies to England and Wales

Fees for expert witnesses

Read guidance about expert witness fees, including:

  • maximum rates for different types of expert witness
  • how to apply for prior authority, including benchmarks for working ‘unusual’ hours
  • expert activity time guidelines
  • expert witness standards in family matters
  • arrangements for specific expert types, including independent social workers, experts in risk assessment, drug and alcohol testing and DNA testing

Forensic science laboratory charges in criminal matters

The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) has published guidance on the funding of forensic science laboratory charges in criminal matters.

The guidance sets out that appropriate charges levied upon the defence by prosecution forensic science laboratories may be payable by the LAA where the LAA considers the charge to be reasonable and has granted prior authority to incur the cost.

The guidance provides a list of activities that must not be claimed from the LAA. It also explains that payment for such services will be made in line with the Criminal Legal Aid (Remuneration)(Amendment) Regulations 2013.

Guidance on forensic science laboratory charges in criminal matters

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Clinical negligence experts

Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has confirmed that these rates will generally be acceptable as a starting point when an expert provides specialised and unusual evidence in a cerebral palsy case, and their evidence is key to the client’s case:

Expert Rate
Neurologist £200 per hour
Neonatologist £180 per hour
Neuroradiologist £180 per hour

You must have a good reason if you want to pay these experts more.

Risk assessment experts

You may need a specialist risk assessment expert if:

  • the court order specifies a risk assessment
  • the work to be done is over and above that requiring independent social work expertise (eg where there’s a conviction or pending proceedings for a sex offence, or where a finding of sexual abuse relevant to the case has been made by a court)
  • the report is specifically required to address the risk posed as a result of the above factors

Risk assessment expert fee guide

Published 1 July 2014
Last updated 22 September 2020 + show all updates
  1. Version 6 of the Expert Witness Fee Guide published.

  2. An updated version of the Guidance on the Remuneration of Expert Witnesses is published.

  3. Guidance on fees for expert witnesses updated.

  4. The Legal Aid Agency has published guidance on the funding of forensic science laboratory charges in criminal matters.

  5. First published.