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Claim expenses for attending court

You can claim back any money you spend, or wages you miss out on, as a result of being asked to attend court to give evidence as a witness in a trial.

Who can claim?

If you have been asked to attend court as a witness to give evidence in a trial you can claim back expenses.

If you have to attend court as an accused person you cannot claim back expenses.

What can I claim for?

Travelling costs

You can claim for the cost of your travel to court if you are asked to attend as a witness. You can only claim for travel to and from the address on your witness citation and the court.

You must include a receipt or your ticket showing the price with all travel expense claims.

You can claim the cost of travel by bus or train. In cases of rail travel, we will only cover the cost of standard-class rail fares.

We do not usually cover the cost of travelling by taxi unless there is a reason you cannot travel by bus or train, such as if you have a disability or mobility issue. Please contact COPFS in advance if you wish to travel by taxi to make sure we will approve your claim.

You can claim expenses for travelling by car. Parking costs are not usually covered.

Long-distance travel

If you need to travel to court by air, please contact us as soon as possible. COPFS may book the flights on your behalf. If you do not do this, you may not be able to reclaim the cost of your flights.

Overnight accommodation

If you need to stay overnight in a hotel please contact us. COPFS may arrange the hotel on your behalf. If you do not do this, you may not be able to reclaim the cost of your hotel.

Food and drink

We will provide you with a fixed amount of money, called an allowance, to cover any snacks and meals you have at court. The amount of money will depend how long you spend at court.

We do not need to see receipts for food and drink. If you spend more than the allowance on food and drink while at court we will not refund you.

Childminding and caring

You can claim expenses if you need to pay someone to look after your children or other people you care for while you attend court.

Loss of earnings

You can claim expenses if you have to miss work and are paid less because you attended court.

If you’re employed

Your employer must complete your claim form and include a company document confirming your income. Our payment will be tax-free.

Claims over £50 (or £25 if you were at Court for 4 hours or less) must be supported by a letter from your employer. The figures should show the exact loss of hours and net take-home pay.

If you’re self-employed

We will pay for lost earnings up to £50 where your claim form is supported by a document with your company branding. Claims over £50 can only be paid if you send in a tax return or set of recent accounts signed by an accountant. These payments are taxable.

If your business is new, you may not yet have audited accounts. Claims can still be paid if supported by a written independent professional estimate of lost earnings.

Where you have paid a substitute to run your business while you're at court, these costs can be refunded. Please include their receipt.

People accompanying witnesses

If you have to attend court to support someone who is a witness you may be able to claim expenses.

You can claim expenses if you are:

  • the parent or guardian of a child witness
  • the carer of a vulnerable or disabled witness
  • supporting someone giving evidence and COPFS has asked you to attend

The items you can claim for are below.

Parent or guardian of child witness

You can claim for travel costs, meals, loss of earnings, and childminding expenses.

Carer of vulnerable or disabled witness

You can claim for travel costs and meals.

You cannot claim for loss of earnings or childminding expenses.

Supporter for child or vulnerable witness (other than parent or carer)

You can claim for travel costs and meals, but only if COPFS has invited you to attend as a supporter.

You cannot claim for loss of earnings or childminding expenses.

How much can I claim for?

Mileage allowances

You can claim for:

  • motor mileage allowance – 28p per mile
    • additional witnesses carried as passengers:
    • first additional witness – 2p per mile
    • further additional witnesses – 1p per mile
  • motorcycle – 28p per mile
  • bicycle – 7p per mile

Food and drink

You can claim for:

  • attendance at court of five hours or fewer – £2.50
  • attendance at court of 5 to 10 hours – £5
  • attendance at court of 5 to 10 hours – £10
  • attendance at court over 15 hours – £15

Childminding and caring

You can claim for caring costs:

  • unregistered childminder – £1 per child per hour
  • registered childminder – £3.50 per child per hour
  • carer cover – £3.50 per person per hour

Loss of earnings

You can claim for loss of earnings due to attending court, where your employer does not pay you for this day, or you lose earnings due to attending court (see above for employed and self-employed).

Additionally, you cannot claim for loss of earnings due to attending court if you were furloughed at the same time.

How do I make a claim?

Fill in the expense claim form on the back of your citation. The citation is the letter which tells you where and when to come to court. Complete all relevant sections and either:

  • hand it in at the COPFS office who sent your citation; the cashier can check your papers are in order whilst you wait
  • scan and email it to the COPFS office who sent your citation (see addresses for individual offices)

Childminding expenses form

If you are claiming for childminding or childcare expenses. You should also complete the childminding expenses form (below) and return it to the office who sent your citation.

When can I make my claim?

Once you are no longer needed at court you can make an expense claim, even if the trial is still taking place. Please make sure that you have included all the supporting documents for your claim, as explained above. There is no time limit for submitting your form.

How long will it take for COPFS to pay back my expenses?

We pay expenses within seven working days of receiving a correctly completed form. Payments are made by direct bank transfer.

Please contact us if you cannot afford to attend court. If you are struggling financially, we may be able to pay you in advance or reimburse your expenses in cash.

Help with claiming expenses

If you need help filling in your expenses form, contact us on 0300 020 3000 or _EnquiryPoint@copfs.gov.uk. You can also contact us and we will send you a new expenses form.

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