The public access scheme allows members of the public to instruct a barrister directly. In the past it was necessary for clients to use a solicitor or other third party in order to instruct a barrister.
The main advantage of the public access scheme is that it could potentially save you money, since you would be paying for a barrister only instead of a barrister and a solicitor. However, although the barrister would be able to deal with many aspects of the case, you may have to assist in some areas, including filing documents with the court, unless the barrister is also authorised to conduct litigation on your behalf. In some cases, I may recommend that you instruct a solicitor because of the complexity of the case or because you may need more assistance than the barrister alone can provide.
Public access is available for all types of work that barristers can do, except for work that is funded by legal aid. Some cases may not be suitable for public access because of their emotional nature, because they are particularly complex or because the type of work that needs to be done in order to prepare the case would be difficult for you and may not be able to be done by a barrister. If you are not sure whether your case would be suitable for public access, you should contact my clerk and seek an initial view. If I consider that your case would benefit from the involvement of a solicitor, I will tell you so.
If you are eligible for public funding (also known as “legal aid”) and wish to take advantage of this funding, I will advise you to approach a solicitor. This is because barristers cannot do legal aid work unless they have been instructed by a solicitor.
I may choose whether or not to accept a case that is suitable for public access work.
However, I may not refuse to accept instructions:
(a) On the grounds of race, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, citizenship, sex, gender re-assignment, sexual orientation, marital or civil partnership status, disability, age, religion or belief or pregnancy and maternity;
(b) On the grounds that the nature of the case is objectionable to me or to any section of the public; or
(c) On the grounds that your conduct, opinions or beliefs are unacceptable to me or to any section of the public.
Barristers specialise in providing expert legal advice, advocacy in court and the drafting of documents. Solicitors normally give advice to and draft documents for their clients or may instruct a barrister to provide this service. In a public access case you will need to perform these roles yourself.
I am not able to provide some of the services that solicitors offer:
I will not be able to conduct litigation on your behalf; and
I am not allowed to handle client money.
I am able to:
appear on your behalf at court;
give you legal advice;
draft legal documents for you, such as a statement;
advise you on the formal steps which need to be taken in proceedings before a court or other organisation and draft formal documents for use in those proceedings;
draft and send letters for you;
assist you with drafting letters if your case goes to court but the letters will need to be sent out in your name;
if a witness statement from you is required in proceedings, I may prepare that statement from what you tell me. I may also help to prepare witness statements from another person based on the information which that person has provided;
If your case requires an expert witness (for example, a doctor) I may advise you on the choice of a suitable expert and may draft a letter of instruction which you can then send to the expert as a letter from you on your own notepaper; and
I can negotiate on your behalf and can attend hearings where appropriate.
Yes. Before a barrister can accept public access work they must satisfy number of conditions and I am licenced to do so by the Bar Council.
The process is very simple. If you would like to discuss your matter with my clerks, they will be happy to assist you and tell you what to do next. Please telephone or email my clerks on the details provided on the home page of this website.
My clerks will explain my fees to you when you contact them and provide you with all of the information that you need. I will then consider your matter and the fee is payable will be agreed at the outset so that the terms of the agreement are clear to both you and me.
I will require that the agreed fee is to be paid before carrying out the work on your matter. Furthermore, I will keep sufficient records to justify the fees that I am charging. You are entitled to ask for details to justify the fee that you are being charged.
Yes, but this will only happen in a small number of cases. There will be some rare occasions when I have to stop acting for you. In public access cases, the barrister must stop acting for you if they consider that the case is no longer suitable for public access. The barrister may be able to assist if, as a consequence of them no longer continuing to act for you, you will or may experience difficulties in relation to an imminent hearing.
In public access cases, a barrister is also required to cease to act where they have formed the view that it is in your interests or the interests of justice that you instruct a solicitor or other professional person. In the unlikely event of this occurring, I will discuss this fully with you.
Yes, 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 they should accept your instructions. However, the fact that you have retained solicitors is not in itself a reason for refusing to accept your instructions; nor may the barrister contact your solicitors without your permission. However, there may be cases, eg where your case involves existing litigation, where a barrister will refuse to accept your instructions unless you give them permission to contact and liaise with your solicitors and you also give your solicitors the necessary permission to provide information to the barrister.
I am under a strict professional duty to keep your affairs confidential. This legal professional privilege protects your communications with me from disclosure. The only exception is that any lawyer, eg a barrister or a solicitor, may be required by law to disclose information to governmental or other regulatory authorities, and to do so without first obtaining your consent to such disclosure or telling you that they have made it.