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British Nationals Overseas: Courts

Volume 465: debated on Tuesday 23 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what (a) aid and (b) advice is provided to British citizens who are called upon to act as witnesses in foreign courts; and when such support was last reviewed; (158885)

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of British citizens involved in court cases abroad in each of the last five years;

(3) what information his Department holds on the average level of expenses faced by British citizens who act as witnesses in court cases abroad; and what advice his Department gives such people.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) plays no direct role in arrangements for British nationals acting as witnesses in court cases abroad and therefore does not hold information on the level of expenses involved. For the same reason, I am unable to make an estimate of the number of British nationals involved in court cases abroad in each of the last five years.

When requested, the FCO and consular staff overseas will provide consular assistance in line with the practice set out in our publication “Support for British Nationals Abroad: A Guide”, including general information on legal and police procedures in the country concerned and lists of local English-speaking lawyers and interpreters. Copies of “Support for British Nationals Abroad: A Guide” are available in the Library of the House. Guidance for consular officials was fully reviewed in May 2007.