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Lab fees: Is it just about money?

Written by: Alan Baker 14th August, 2014

The comments of the Forensic Regulator in 2013 left the door open for labs used by police forces to impose charges for the release of data and/or the use of their premises for an examination of, say, clothing items.

Since then it has become standard practice for the main providers to pass on these charges to the defence. At the cheapest end of the scale, a fee of about £100 is imposed for the release of paperwork. Whilst at the other extreme, it is usual for a fee of in excess of £300 to be charged when an expert visits a lab and uses bench space.

The payment of these fees is becoming a major headache to solicitors and consequently defence examiners.

Who should pay?

The labs refuse to release data without the financial undertaking.

The LAA suggest that they are aware of the problem and indicate that a fixed fee should be imposed.

Some solicitors feel that it is a prosecution cost and therefore of no direct consequence to any Prior Authority application.

The reality is that cases are being delayed by the apparent lack of direction on the payment of lab fees and this can only be solved by a decision that no fee can be imposed (and why should it be?) or that any such fee is restricted and will always get Prior Authority granted.