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Legal Aid (Expert Witness Fees)

Volume 506: debated on Wednesday 3 March 2010

My noble Friend, the Under-Secretary of State, Lord Bach, has made the following written ministerial statement:

Following a consultation process, the Government today announce the launch of a new project to review current fee arrangements and deliver new fee structures for professional expert witnesses.

A central working group of key stakeholders involved in experts work will shortly be established to help MoJ gain a greater understanding of the range of work which experts do and how this is currently remunerated. In conjunction with this, a further group of experts will be asked to contribute to a wider reference group.

The new project follows the MoJ’s careful consideration of the feedback received to the earlier consultation “Legal Aid: Funding Reforms” where the Government proposed exploring the concept of fixed fees and hourly rates for experts work.

As a result of the wide range of responses received from experts, legal practitioners and other representative bodies, the Government have decided that additional analysis of this complex area is needed to ensure that any future fee structures are both sustainable and fair.

By seeking greater control over expert fees, the Government aim to reduce disbursement spend to a more sustainable level, while maintaining access to justice through the provision of key expert evidence.

It is intended that the project will report to Ministers with proposals for a new fee structure within six months.

Copies of “Legal Aid: Funding Reforms Part Three Experts’ Fees—Response to Consultation” have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.