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Westminster introduces expenses for DA cross-examiners

The justice ministry for England and Wales will pay expenses to lawyers who sign up as a qualified legal representative to cross exam survivors of domestic abuse.

While hundreds have already joined the scheme, a new expenses policy is being introduced to encourage more to join, the ministry said. Previously no expenses were available: in future lawyers will be able to claim up to £180 for travel and up to £161 per day for other outgoings, including accommodation and food.

Though welcoming the addition of expenses, Nick Emmerson, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, said the fees are still too low because they are based on legal aid rates which have not increased since 1996.

Under the 2021 Domestic Abuse Act, alleged perpetrators are banned from interrogating their accusers in family and civil courts. Cross-examination is, instead, carried out by court-appointed legal professionals to ensure, the ministry says, justice is done fairly for both sides as well as reduce the risk of victims being retraumatised.

Full details of the expenses policy will be set out in guidance when it comes into force on 2 January.

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