Witnesses do not receive any payment for being a witness, however it is not expected that they should incur any major cost in having to attend Court either. Therefore witnesses may claim costs such as the loss of wages for the time they are required if they have had to take unpaid leave from work to attend. Witnesses will need to complete a Witness Expense Claim Form and provide this to the appropriate prosecutor or Witness Assistance Service Officer. If a witness requires assistance to complete the forms, they should contact the Witness Assistance Service on Freecall 1800 659 449.
Witnesses' expense allowances are approved by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
A witness may be entitled to:
(i) accommodation allowance
(ii) meal allowance
(iii) travelling allowance; and
(iv) an allowance for loss of earnings in accordance with the policy.
The net amount for Loss of Income, Salary or Wages is to be reimbursed on production of a letter from their employer or a certified accountant, stating the net amount of income.
(i) Witness expenses by way of loss of earnings will not be paid to any police officers (intrastate, interstate or overseas). This also applies to police officers who were off-duty when they witnessed an offence and who subsequently give evidence for the prosecution. The appropriate police departments are expected to remain responsible for payment of wages.
(ii) Accommodation for Northern Territory police officers will generally be provided in Visiting Officers' Quarters. When not available, appropriate hotel accommodation will be provided by the police. Meal and travel allowances will remain the responsibility of the NT Police. The Office will be responsible, however, for such entitlements in respect of interstate or international police officers.
In accordance with By-Law 21 of the Public Sector Employment and Management Act no witness fee payments are to be made to a witness who is a public service officer:
From time to time it is necessary for another person to accompany a witness.
This generally applies to adults accompanying child witnesses, persons accompanying disabled witnesses and interstate prison officers accompanying interstate prisoners.
These requests are to be treated as a one off. Such requests are to be made in advance and are to be approved by either the Director or his delegate.
An expert witness is a person who the prosecution has defined as being called to give evidence that involves his/her particular specialisation in private enterprise and may claim up to the maximum of $610.20 per day. This rate is set out in the Rules of the High Court and is amended from time to time. The prosecutor will advise those persons who qualify for this fee. If the amount claimed by the expert exceeds the scheduled fee, approval from the Director or his delegate must be sought.
Interpreters and translators are requested through the Witness Assistance Service (WAS).
WAS will make an initial booking through either the NT Interpreter and Translating Services (NTITS) or the Aboriginal Interpreter Service (AIS).
Aboriginal interpreter bookings are made through the AIS. Fees, accommodation, transport and any other costs relating to the provision of this service are arranged by AIS and debited to the Office. Bookings are subject to confirmation by WAS.
Interpreters that are not booked through either AIS or NTITS are paid in accordance with rates as set by the Office of Ethnic Affairs - updated rates can be obtained by contacting the Business Manager:
Where the interpreter is a government employee and the employee is provided leave with pay (as opposed to recreation leave) no interpreter fees are payable.
Where the interpreter is a government employee and the employee is required to take leave without pay or recreation leave, interpreter fees pursuant to the current rates as set out by the Office of Ethnic Affairs will apply.
Where the interpreter is notified prior to commencing travel, no interpreter fees are payable.
Where the interpreter is only notified upon arrival in Darwin (or Alice Springs, or as appropriate) a fee is payable.
The prosecutor who has carriage of the matter should make a request in writing and forward it for the Director's approval.
The request should annex a copy of the facts and the charges, refer to the importance of the witness's evidence and whether it is feasible and desirable to seek to adduce that evidence in another way.
The estimated costs should be included in the request. The aim, of course, is to ensure cost effectiveness.
Any variation in a particular case to the foregoing allowances and fees will not be accepted by the DPP unless agreed to in writing before the relevant expense has been incurred. Prior approval should be sought though the Business Manager in the first instance. In addition to the Deputy Director, who holds general delegations, the Practice Manager (Alice Springs), the Business Manager, the Assistant Business Manager (Darwin), WAS Manager and the Office Manager (Alice Springs) are designated as officers who may authorise such variations.
Notwithstanding anything that appears elsewhere in this Guideline it is recognised that from time to time emergencies may arise where witnesses are genuinely in needy circumstances and require a small amount of cash for essential food items. In the event that a relevant member of staff of the DPP (whether a prosecutor, Witness Assistance Service Officer or administrative staff member) gratuitously advances the cost of such food to a witness (by directly purchasing it rather than handing over cash) then on application reimbursement will almost invariably be approved (receipts for government accounting purposes will be requested).