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Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 13 Jul 1972

Vol. 262 No. 9

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Court Witnesses' Expenses.


asked the Minister for Justice if he is aware of difficulties experienced by some witnesses in court cases in having their expenses paid; and if he will indicate (a) whether there is a specified scale of expenses and, if so, the scale, and (b) who is responsible for payment of expenses to witnesses who have been subpoenaed to attend.

I presume the Deputy is referring to the expenses of lay witnesses for the State in criminal cases. My Department is responsible for the payment of these expenses, in accordance with a scale prescribed by the Minister for Finance. In practice, the majority of claims are paid locally by the Garda superintendent out of an imprest with which he is provided for the purpose. If the court awards expenses to a witness and the expenses awarded are less than those prescribed, the witness is, nevertheless, paid the full amount prescribed in the scale. If a witness is awarded expenses which are greater than those prescribed, he is paid the prescribed expenses pending collection from the defendant of the full expenses awarded, when the balance is paid to him.

In a minority of cases, some difficulties do arise in the payment of these expenses. Such difficulties can stem from a variety of causes, the principal causes being difficulty, in some cases, in collecting from defendants expenses awarded by the court and the necessity in some cases to have claims vouched by the claimant.

I propose, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, to circulate with the Official Report a copy of the prescribed scale of expenses.

Following is the scale:

RATES of allowances which may be paid to persons who attend Court on behalf of the State to give evidence as to fact in criminal cases

I. Allowances for Loss of Time.

1. For the period of necessary absence from employment or business (or from home in the case of housewives, domestics and unemployed), payment as follows may be made:

Period of absence

Per diem

4 hours or more


less than 4 hours


2. No payment should be made to school children.

3. However, if a salary or wage earner has lost salary or wages in excess of what ordinarily would be allowed to him under paragraph 1, he may be recouped the difference on the production of a certificate from his employer as to the witness's salary or wages and as to the earnings he has in fact permanently lost by reason of his attendance in Court.

II. Subsistence Allowances.

1. Night Allowances—

(covering a period of necessary overnight absence from home or business up to 24 hours plus any additional period amounting to less than 5 hours)


2. Day Allowance—

(covering a period of necessary absence (not extending overnight) from home or business)—

10 hours or more


5 hours or more but less than 10 hours


2 hours or more but less than 5 hours


A day and night allowance or two or more day allowances cannot be paid concurrently.

III. Travelling Expenses.

The following travelling expenses may be allowed—

1. Where public transport is used—Second class rail or bus fare

Per mile

2. Motor car


3. Motor cycle


4. Bicycle or on foot


Hired cars may be used only when public transport is not available or when such transport is not reasonably practicable.

Could the Minister say if in civil cases there is a scale laid down?

In civil cases the question of expenses would be one for the taxing master in the High Court and for the county registrar in the Circuit Court. It is a discretionary scale which would depend on the actual expenses incurred by the witness or the actual amount of money that he was out of pocket.

The registrar may say it has nothing to do with him; it is a matter between the solicitor and the client.

The county registrar would only come into it on a taxation of costs as between a party and party. If the unsuccessful litigant, for example, called a particular witness and that litigant's solicitor summoned the witness to appear, the question of payment to that witness would be one between the litigant and the witness.

There is no scale there?

There is no scale there. It would be a matter for agreement between the witness and the solicitor.

If there is no agreement, I presume it is the solicitor, being the stronger of the two, who prevails?

It is not my experience that the solicitor is invariably the stronger of the two.

He gets more out of it than the witness does.