As the amount and complexity of litigation has increased, there have been corresponding increases in demands for added compensation of witnesses. Like the juror, the witness often receives the time-honored answer that he cannot be heard to complain that his compensation is inadequate; the administration of justice is a mutual benefit to all members of the community, and each is under a public duty to further it.
At common law witnesses received no compensation. Time spent in testifying was held to be claimed by the public as a tax, paid by the witness to the system of law which protected the rights of all. Statutory provisions gradually were enacted, providing for various degrees of compensation. Today, there are such statutory provisions in every state as well as in the federal courts. The area is fraught with controversies and bears examination.
David W. Belin S.Ed.,
Civil Procedure - Compensation of Witnesses in a Civil Action,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol52/iss1/6