12th September 2016
It is now possible to go directly to a barrister for advice or representation without having to go through a solicitor – which was the only way for several hundred years. The new approach is known as ‘direct access’ or ‘public access’ and it is available in both civil and criminal cases.
The first advantage of instructing a barrister direct is that you will save the cost of having a solicitor prepare a brief for the barrister. You may also, with the advice the barrister gives you, be able to correspond with the other party directly yourself – again saving the costs of solicitors’ letters.
Secondly, when instructing a barrister direct, much of the work that would normally be done by a solicitor, such as collating documents and photocopying, will be done by you. Which means more cost savings.
It has been estimated that clients who come direct to barristers can save between 50% and 60% of their legal costs in suitable civil and criminal matters.
By going direct you may also find that the job is done quicker, and that you have more control over your case.
You may be wondering, what is the difference between a barrister and a solicitor?
The answer is that most barristers are specialists in certain areas of the law and in courtroom advocacy, whereas most solicitors are generalists, providing the first point of contact with members of the public who think they may need advice or representation.
Solicitors refer work to barristers for specialist legal advice and to represent their clients in court. In these situations the solicitor will have provided the initial legal advice, prepared the case and dealt with the other side on the client’s behalf.
A good analogy is that solicitors work like general practitioners in medicine – referring clients to specialist barristers as the need arises in much the same way as GPs refer patients to specialists or consultants in particular areas of medicine.
When instructed on a direct access basis your barrister will usually be involved in your case from the outset. Involvement in a case from an early stage doesn’t just mean that your barrister will have a more intimate knowledge of your case by the time it reaches court but it could also increase the chances of your case settling.
A word of caution …
Direct public access is not suitable for all cases. If your case is unsuitable, I will advise you immediately and, if you wish, help you to select a specialist solicitor to work with.
Not all barristers are allowed, or are willing, to accept work direct from members of the public. Specialist training is needed and those accepting direct access work must be approved to do so by the Bar Council.
I accept direct access instructions in the following areas:
Employment law including claims relating to:
- unfair dismissal
- constructive dismissal
- unfair selection for redundancy
- harassment in the workplace
- discrimination claims
- breach of contract claims
- ‘TUPE’ transfers
- unlawful deductions from wages
- contracts in restraint of trade
Motoring/Road Traffic law including cases relating to:
- drink driving
- dangerous and careless driving
If you would like to talk to me about your situation please click here to contact me. My initial advice will be free of charge and without obligation.