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.
(b) Travelling Allowance
(i) The amount of the travelling allowance that is to be paid to a witness (other than public service officers):
(a) the amount paid for fares in travelling to and from court using the most economical form of public transport; or
(b) if public transport is not available and a witness travels to and from court in a private vehicle, then the witness may be paid an allowance as determined by the Public Sector Employment and Management Act.
(ii) A witness is not entitled to the payment of a travelling allowance if no expenses are incurred by the witness in travelling to and from court.
(iii) If a witness travels to and from the court in a private vehicle with another witness only one payment is to be made for that vehicle.
(iv) If approval is given for the witness to travel to and from court by air, then such travel will be by economy class (or its equivalent) and will be arranged by the Office or the Prosecutions Liaison Officer.
(c) Accommodation and Meal Allowances (Interstate and Intrastate Witnesses)
(i) Accommodation will be booked and paid for by the Office for witnesses who are required to stay overnight for the purpose of attending court.
(ii) Where accommodation is not obtained at a hotel, motel or other establishment of the kind included in the definition of hotel in the Hotel-Keepers Act, the witness will, on production of receipt, be paid a daily meal allowance in accordance with section 2(c)(iii) of this Policy.
(iii) Meal allowance will be paid as determined by the Public Sector Employment and Management Act (for breakfast, lunch and dinner) and are provided for at the place of accommodation. Where a witness is only entitled to one or two of these meals a maximum allowance per meal is provided for as follows:
(iv) In circumstances where the witness does not eat at the place of accommodation, receipts must be produced in order for reimbursement to be claimed. Upon production of receipts, reimbursement not exceeding the prescribed maximum amount per meal provided for in section 2(c)(iii) will be provided.
(v) Reimbursement will only be paid at the conclusion of the matter and payment will be by way of cheque.
(vi) At no time will cash be paid to witnesses or interpreters from the Office.
(vii) Meal allowance will only be payable to witnesses who are necessarily absent overnight or for more than 12 hours from that person's place of abode.
(viii) If the person is a witness who is under the age of 12 years, the amount of the meal allowance is to be halved.
(d) Police Officers
(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.
(e) Public Servants - State and Commonwealth
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:
- (i) within the meaning of the Public Sector Employment and Management Act; or
- (ii) within the meaning of the Commonwealth Employment Service Act, or
- (iii) a police officer within the meaning of the Police Administration Act, or
- (iv) a prisoner of the Crown.
(f) People Accompanying Witnesses and Babysitters
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.
(g) Expert Witnesses
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.
3. Interpreters and Translators
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:
Interpreter - public servant
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.
Cases cancelled - interpreter no longer required
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.
Transport to be provided to and from court. This should include:
- return airfares or bus fares (where necessary)
- return taxi pick up from airport to hotel (where necessary)
- return taxi pick up from hotel to court and to hotel after assignment (where necessary).
Taxi fares within the Darwin or Alice Springs city centre areas are only provided to attend court in exceptional circumstances where the witness can prove hardship which may include adverse weather conditions or inability to walk to court due to a disability.
Where an interpreter's own vehicle has to be used a kilometre allowance may be payable at the current rate as set out in the Public Sector Employment and Management Act in circumstances where no scheduled passenger service (air, train, bus) is reasonably available to meet the specific needs of the situation. If a scheduled service is available, the amount payable to the interpreter is the equivalent bus fare within the NT or airfare for interstate interpreters.
(b) Accommodation and meals
To be provided in accordance with section 2(c) of this policy.
4. Overseas Witnesses
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.
(i) Any variation, in a particular case, to the foregoing allowances and fees will not be accepted by the Office 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 Crown Prosecutor in Charge ( Alice Springs ), General Counsel and the Business Manager are hereby designated as officers who may authorise such variations.
(ii) Notwithstanding anything that appears elsewhere in this statement of policy and procedures, it is recognised that from time to time emergencies may arise where witnesses are genuinely in straitened circumstances and need a small amount of cash for essential food items. In the event that a relevant member of staff of the Office (whether a prosecutor, member of the Witness Assistance Service or of the administrative staff) 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).
REX WILD QC
Director of Public Prosecutions