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Judicial expenses

Judicial office-holders may claim expenses only in limited circumstances.

The guidelines for claiming allowances and expenses are similar in terms of eligibility criteria and process to those used by the Civil Service. Judges may claim travel and subsistence expenses they incur in the course of their judicial duties. All claims are checked and authorised for payment by someone with appropriate authority for the relevant budget, and then sent to Liberata, which organises payments on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.

The rates for salaried and fee-paid judiciary were set in 2002 by the Lord Chancellor with the approval of HM Revenue and Customs and have not been increased since.

The expenses claims of High Court Judges and above are recorded in such a way that they can be attributed to individual judges and published at regular intervals.

Details of Judicial Expenses

Judges can only claim expenses in limited circumstances broadly the same as those applying to civil servants in the Ministry of Justice. They may claim travel and subsistence expenses they incur in the course of their judicial duties.

Travel expenses may only be claimed for travel on judicial business. Some of the senior judiciary may from time to time make use of the Government Car Service on judicial business, and the most senior judges may use the Government Car Service for journeys to and from their home. Overnight expenses may only be claimed when a judge is unable to return home because of judicial business. Expenses payments are generally made on the production of receipts and claims must be authorised by a civil servant with delegated budget management responsibility for the budget concerned. Some allowances (for example the 24 hour allowance and personal incidental expenditure allowance where it is necessary for a judge to stay overnight away from home) are paid at a flat rate and may be claimed without producing receipts.

Rates of travel and subsistence payments which apply to judges

Travel

  • By rail: 1st class fare
  • By car - rates per mile:
    • First 10,000 miles - 45p
    • Over 10,000 miles - 25p
  • Motorcycle allowance: 24p per mile
  • Pedal cycle allowance: 20p per mile
  • Passenger supplement (not payable for motorcycle travel):5p per mile for passengers whose fares would otherwise be paid from public funds.
  • Air fares incurred travelling on judicial business are also reimbursable where appropriate.

Subsistence

Night subsistence payments are only payable where a judge is required to be away from his or her normal home on judicial business. The following rates are payable for each night of absence:

  • Hotels and similar accommodation in London:
    Actual expenditure up to a ceiling of £120 for bed and breakfast costs plus 24 hour allowance of £21 and personal incidental expenditure allowance of £5.
  • Hotels and similar accommodation elsewhere:
    Actual expenditure up to a ceiling of £100 for bed and breakfast costs plus 24 hour allowance of £21 and personal incidental expenditure allowance of £5.
  • Staying with friends/relatives:
    £32.45 (N.B. This allowance is subject to tax) or a non-taxable payment of up to £21 a night for receipted food costs plus the £5 allowance for personal incidental expenditure (PIE).
  • Own secondary property in London:
    Reimbursement of expenses necessarily incurred up to a limit of £32.45.
  • Own secondary property elsewhere:
    Reimbursement of expenses necessarily incurred up to a limit of £31.
  • Rented accommodation in London:
    Actual expenditure up to a ceiling of £60 for rental costs plus 24 hour allowance of £21 and personal incidental expenditure allowance of £5.
  • Rented accommodation elsewhere:
    Actual expenditure up to a ceiling of £50 for rental costs plus 24 hour allowance of £21 and a personal incidental expenditure allowance of £5.

Relocation

Salaried judges whose work requires them to move on a permanent basis to a different part of the country (for example Circuit Judges who are transferred to a different Circuit, or former Circuit Judges who are required to move to London on appointment to the High Court) are entitled to claim assistance towards the additional costs of travel or relocation on the same basis as Ministry of Justice civil servants. The receipt of various expenses and allowances are time-limited. The period for which an allowance is payable will depend on the circumstances of each case.

Excess fares allowance

Excess fares allowance is taxable and as with civil servants, Judges in these circumstances who prefer not to move their homes and decide to continue living at home and commute are entitled to an excess fares allowance for a period of five years. Excess fares allowance is calculated on the basis of the actual cost of the journey to the old permanent court and the most cost effective and reasonable means of travel to the new permanent court. The allowance is capped at a maximum of £32.50 per day, and may be used towards the cost of temporary accommodation rather than travel if the person concerned prefers. No assistance is provided for weekend travel.

Relocation packages

If a judge or civil servant moves home as a result of the relocation of their work, the Ministry of Justice may reimburse some or all of the expenses incurred. The relevant budget holder within the Ministry of Justice is responsible for approving a permanent compulsory move with home removal terms, provided there is a strong business case.

When establishing eligibility and the level of relocation assistance, the following points are taken into consideration:

  • the business interests of the Ministry;
  • the estimated cost of relocation;
  • the actual cost of the employee’s current journey;
  • the most cost effective and reasonable means of travel to the new office; and
  • any previous change of employment that attracted relocation assistance which may impact on the need to reassess existing allowances.

If a change of residence is deemed necessary the relevant Ministry of Justice budget holder takes the following into account:

  • marital status and dependants;
  • current home (type and status);
  • proposed new home (type and status); and
  • any previous change of employment that attracted relocation assistance.

Actual levels of reimbursement vary depending on an individual’s circumstances. Reimbursement of up to £8,000 is exempt from tax and National Insurance contributions under HM Revenue and Customs rules, provided certain conditions are met.

Categories in which reimbursements may be made include:

  • Disposal of old residence
    (legal fees, mortgage redemption fees, estate agent fees;)
  • Acquisition of new residence
    (legal fees, stamp duty, survey fees, search fees, mortgage arrangement fees, land registry fees;)
  • Transporting of belongings
    (removal, storage.)

Depending on the sum granted, reimbursement can also be made in respect of temporary accommodation.

In exceptional cases, the Ministry will also consider paying the following allowances:-

  • Overlapping rent allowance, where a rented property is still subject to a tenancy agreement in the old place of work, but a new property has been purchased in the new place of work;
  • Other removal expenditure grant - lump sum payment for the purchase of domestic goods for the new property;
  • Advance of salary for house purchase - which can be up to 12 months’ salary. Repayable over a maximum of 12 years. This is for moves to dearer areas;
  • Additional housing costs allowance - paid up to maximum of nine years for moves to dearer areas.

The amounts actually paid, if any, will vary from case to case according to circumstances. Relocation packages are normally paid for no more than three years.

The Magistracy

The arrangements set out above do not apply to the 30,000 unpaid magistrates, whose arrangements are set out on the Magistrates’ Association website

Approximately 30,000 magistrates serve the community voluntarily and they are not paid for their work in the courts. However they are entitled to some allowances such as travel, subsistence and financial loss, which is limited to a specific amount. The amount that may be claimed by justices for financial loss allowance is subject to an upper limit which varies depending on whether they are employed or self employed, the current maximum payable for sittings exceeding four hours is £116.58 for self-employed justices and £93.27 for other justices.

The claims made in the past three years were as follows:

2007/2008

2008/2009

2009/2010

Magistrates’ Travel and Subsistence £10,472,196 £12,132,262 £11,315,837
Magistrates’ Loss of Earnings £7,485,078 £8,027,584 £7,669,836
Total £17,957,274 £20,159,846

£18,985,672

Expenses claimed by the senior judiciary

The Lord Chief Justice and Judicial Executive Board have agreed that as from October 2009 expenses claimed by High Court judges and above from the Ministry of Justice will be recorded and published for each term.

This website sets out details of what may be claimed: judges are treated broadly in line with Ministry of Justice civil servants. This means that they may claim back travel expenses and certain incidental expenses actually incurred by them in the course of their duties, and may claim accommodation expenses up to specified limits if they incur such expenses.

The expense chart for each term is broken down by individual judge: some claims, although paid for in term, also include expenses incurred by sitting during a preceding vacation period. The claims primarily relate to the expenses incurred by High Court judges (mainly of the Queen’s Bench and Family Divisions) in travelling to and from the different Circuits to try cases at local courts. Other expenses were incurred on other official business.

Staff in the private offices of the Heads of Division sometimes book rail tickets and accommodation for them or other judges in advance, using the Government Procurement Card. These expenses are not claimed by the judges concerned, but are included in the attached table for completeness.

The most senior judges, including the Lord Chief Justice, have access to the secure Government Green Car Service. Their use of the Government Car Service is above in the 'Related Information' box .

The figures published here do not include costs incurred by HM Courts Service in providing and maintaining judges’ lodgings, nor the costs of transporting judges from the lodgings to court and back; such costs are not claimed by or paid to individual judges as expenses, and are recorded separately and published from time to time by HMCS.

 

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