The Weekly Law Reports, Chambers Library The Weekly Law Reports, Chambers Library

AREAS OF WORK

Direct Access, Public Access

 

DIRECT ACCESS, PUBLIC ACCESS: EXPLAINED

What is direct access, public access?

You can now instruct a barrister directly, without going through a solicitor. This is called direct access or public accessDirect access which is also known as public access is available in all areas of law, including:

For further general information about the direct access, public access scheme, please see the Bar Council web page.

If you feel that you may be eligible for legal aid then you are advised to contact either the Legal aid authority or a solicitors firm that deals with legally aided work to investigate whether you are eligible prior to instructing Chambers.

What is the difference between barristers and solicitors?

Barristers give expert advice, draft documents and act as advocates (represent you at hearings).   Most barristers are specialists in one or more areas of law, such as personal injury or employment law.  Some solicitors will provide some of these services too.  Solicitors generally take responsibility for handling a client's affairs, clients' money and for the general management of a client's legal case (the conduct of litigation).  Barristers cannot undertake such work. 

Barristers tend to charge a fixed fee for a piece of work or for a hearing.  Solicitors tend to charge by the hour, including travel time and waiting.  Solicitors may also refer your case on to a barrister anyway, in which case you pay both the solicitor and the barrister.  Under the direct access, public access scheme, you only pay for the barrister, and you know the cost up-front.

What services can barristers offer under the direct access, public access scheme?

Barristers can represent you at court or at other tribunals, appeal hearings, committee hearings or similar.

Barristers can advise you about your case, or about how the law affects your situation, or about the legal or procedural steps you need to take.  The barrister will try to make the advice as practical and easy to understand as possible.

Direct access, public access barristers can advise on the evidence you need, but cannot investigate or collect evidence for use in proceedings.  This means that, for example, a barrister is not allowed to contact possible witnesses to investigate what evidence they may be able to give, but could meet a witness in conference to write down their statement in the correct form, or could extract the information from another document prepared by the witness

Barristers can advise on which expert would be appropriate to instruct, and can draft the letter of instruction for you to send, but you must instruct the expert yourself.

Barristers can draft documents for you, such as court proceedings, appeal forms, statements, contracts, commercial contracts, wills, trust deeds and so on. Direct access, public access barristers cannot "issue" (lodge with the court) any proceedings or applications on your behalf  or take other formal steps in proceedings.  You will need to do this yourself, as many people do already.

Barristers can also draft letters for you to send to others, but cannot sign them for you or use the barrister's notepaper. The letter itself can state that it has been drafted by a barrister.

Direct access, public access barristers cannot take responsibility for the general management of a client's case or of a client's affairs, nor can a barrister handle clients' money (except to receive payment of the barrister's fee).

Is a barrister obliged to accept public access, direct access work?

Only a small proportion of barristers undertake direct access, public access work and New Walk Chambers specialises in public access.  For those who do, the barrister must be satisfied that the case is suitable for public access, direct access.  If the barrister considers that it is not in your best interests or the interests of justice to proceed by way of publlic access, direct access he or she will decline your instructions and refer you to a solicitor.  Each case will depend on its particular facts: the barrister will consider the nature of the work that you wish him or her to undertake and your own ability to deal with the parts of your case that would otherwise have been handled by a solicitor.

Can I get public funding?

If you may be eligible for public funding, a barrister is likely to advise you to approach a solicitor.  Barristers cannot carry out the means assessment required to establish whether you would qualify for public funding, and are not allowed to apply to the Legal Services Commission for public funding on a direct access / public access basis on your behalf. If it appears that you may qualify for public funding, the barrister is likely to advise you to approach a solicitor with a franchise from the Legal Services Commission to investigate this possibility.

What about "no win no fee" arrangements?

The Bar Council has given guidance to barristers that Conditional Fee Arrangements (often called "no win no fee") are not generally appropriate for direct access or public access.  If you want your case to be funded on a no win no fee basis, the barrister is likely to advise you to approach a solicitor who is prepared to work on this basis, who can then instruct a barrister as appropriate.  

How do I instruct a barrister?

Please contact the Senior Clerk (Practice Manager) on +44 (0)116 255 9144, or by email on clerks@newwalkchambers.co.uk

Chambers also accepts instructions by fax on +44 (0)116 255 9084*

or by post to New Walk Chambers, 27 New Walk, Leicester LE1 6TE (please do NOT send original documents). Chambers does not accept original documents and will not accept responsibililty for their loss or their return.

What happens next?

The barrister may need a preliminary meeting or discussion by phone before deciding whether the matter is suitable for public access, direct access and may wish to see any relevant documents before making the decision.  The barrister will advise you whether or not you will be charged for this meeting or for considering the documents.

If the barrister agrees that your case is suitable for public access, direct access you and the barrister will have to agree the terms on which he or she is to carry out the work. Those terms will be set out in a client care letter which will be sent to you.  The client care letter is a very important document. It contains a description of the work to be undertaken, the basis on which you will be charged for that work, and the other terms of the agreement between you and the barrister. If you are unclear about any of the contents of that letter, you must raise your concerns with the barrister immediately.

The law requires the barrister, in certain circumstances, to obtain proof of your identity, i.e. proof of your name, date of birth and current address.  The barrister will advise you of the type of evidence required, which will depend on the circumstances.

If your case is not suitable for public access, direct access the barrister will tell you so. If you wish, he or she may recommend a suitable solicitor for you to instruct.

How will I be charged?

A barrister usually charges according to their level of experience, the complexity of the case and the length of time involved in dealing with it.  Our public access, direct access barristers will agree a fixed fee for each piece of work that you ask them to undertake, and will require this fee to be paid in advance.  There are no formal scales of fees for barrister's work, but our barristers will generally charge a standard fee for certain types of hearing or work that they do regularly.  Often, the barrister will ask his or her Clerk to agree the fee on the barrister's behalf.  Our barristers are all independent self-employed practitioners.

Where the fee relates to a hearing, the barrister is normally entitled to the fee, whether or not the hearing goes ahead. If that is to be the case, the barrister will tell you. You may, if you wish, try to agree a different basis for payment of the fee in such a case.

Where it is not possible to agree a fixed fee in advance, you should ask for an estimate. It may also be possible for you agree with the barrister that there should be a "ceiling" on the fee charged for a particular piece of work.  Where a fee is not fixed in advance and the work involves the production of paperwork (for example, the drafting of a contract), the barrister may nevertheless require you to pay for the work after he or she has completed it and before releasing it to you. If that is to be the case, the barrister should tell you at the outset. 

The barrister is required to keep sufficient records to justify the fees that he or she is charging. You are entitled to details to justify the fee that you are being charged.

The barrsiter will only do the work required once BARCO is in receipt of cleared funds. If cleared funds are not made available to the barrister in time to do the paperwork which has a deadline or a court hearing then the barrister will not be liable for any difficulties this might cause.

Can I instruct a barrister direct when I have already instructed solicitors?

You may instruct a barrister directly even though you have already instructed solicitors.  If you do so, the barrister will still have to consider whether he or she should accept your instructions. However, the fact that you have retained solicitors is not of itself a reason for refusing to accept your instructions; nor may the barrister contact your solicitors without your permission. However, there may be cases (for example, where your case involves existing litigation) where a barrister will refuse to accept your instructions unless you give him or her permission to contact and liaise with your solicitors. We would expect you to inform your solicitor if you do instruct a barrister.  

Confidentiality and compulsory disclosure of information

Your barrister will be under a strict professional duty to keep your affairs confidential.  Legal professional privilege protects your communications with your barrister from disclosure.  The only exception is that statutory and other legal requirements may cause a barrister to disclose information which he or she has received from you to governmental or other regulatory authorities and to do so without first obtaining your consent to such disclosure or telling you that he or she has made it.

Original documents

Please do not send original documents to Chambers. If originals are required at Court or for some other meeting then please bring them with you when you attend.

Chambers cannot accept responsibility for any originals that are lost whilst being conveyed to, or by, Chambers or whilst in our care.

The public access, direct access barristers deal regularly with work in the following towns (among others):

  • Leicester
  • Nottingham
  • Coventry
  • Northampton
  • Peterborough
  • Derby
  • Lincoln
  • London
  • Manchester
  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Milton Keynes
  • Southampton
  • Portsmouth
  • Newcastle
  • Sunderland
  • Liverpool
  • Skegness
  • Boston
  • Newark
  • Sheffield
  • Telford
  • Wolverhampton

The direct access barristers group consists of:

Public access, direct access initial instruction

1. Please email (clerks@newwalkchambers.co.uk) or fax (+44 (0)116 255 9084) the clerks with clear details of the work you require and the facts of your case so far. if you are attaching copy documents, letters and court documents then please place them in date order and number each document so that the barrister can easily and quickly understand your case.

You may find the following form useful in writing to us. click here

Please also attach a separate document titled, LIST OF DOCUMENTS,with the number of each document down the left side and to the right of that a short note as to what the document is. an example is listed below:

Example

LIST OF DOCUMENTS

1. Letter from Mr. Smith dated 14th January 2010

2. Invoice from A. Carpentry & Co dated 19th January 2010

3. Copy of contract dated 20th January 2010

4. Court listing notice dated 14th March 2010

5. ................. Etc

Within your email please also include your full contact details and copies of documents which prove your identity, your date of birth and your address.

If there are any court dates or dates where paperwork or a response is required then this must be clearly set out at the top of your fax or email.

The barrister will normally make no charge for looking at the documents. If the barrister feels that your case is suitable for direct access he will send you a letter, which will be a contract between you, which will set out the work he can do for you and the charges. If you do not wish to proceed at this point, please let us know and we will make no charge. If you are happy to proceed then please sign and date a copy of the letter and return it with payment. Our preferred method of payment is by use of BARCO Escrow Account and for details of this please contact the clerks.

Important

Please call us on +44 (0)116 255 9144 to confirm with the clerks that they have received your direct access / public access correspondence and in order that they may indicate when you are likely to receive a response. If you have not received a response within a week then please call the clerks again to get an update on your case.

 

Identification Checks

Please Note We may undertake a search with Experian for the purposes of verifying your identity. To do so Experian may check the details you supply against any particulars on any database (public or otherwise) to which they have access.

If this form of check is not conclusive, then we may have to go through the full process for identity checks whereby you will be required to show an original passport, driving license with photo ID and two utility bills for us to copy and verify your identity.
 

 



Website developed by Focus New Media