Direct Public Access

What is Public Access?

Traditionally when someone wanted advice or representation from a barrister they first had to instruct a solicitor. Barristers were not allowed to deal directly with their clients. The roles of barristers and solicitors were very different. 

 

Often the solicitor would :

 

  • complete all the initial paperwork in the case that would start proceedings.

  • take statements from potential witnesses.

  • hold any money on account when necessary (to pay expert witnesses for example).

  • respond to any correspondence from the other side.

  • prepare the file of relevant papers ('the bundle') to be used by the parties and court at the final hearing.

 

The barrister would :

 

  • provide written advice about the strength of the case before starting proceedings.

  • meet the client to take instructions, usually with a solicitor present too.

  • attend at any court hearings necessary before the case can be resolved.

  • represent the client in court at the final hearing when the main issues are decided.

  • question any witness during that final hearing and make speeches (or submissions) on behalf of the client.

 

This arrangement provided a comprehensive service to anyone needing legal help... but it could also be expensive to employ two specialists.

 

Recently the regulations have changed and it is now possible for someone to instruct a barrister without also employing a solicitor. 

In a nutshell that's what 'Public Access' means - the option for members of the public to just use a barrister of their choice.

 

What are the advantages?

The obvious advantage is simply more choice and greater flexibilty. You can still choose to :

 

  • Represent yourself (in most types of hearings).

  • Instruct a solicitor alone.

  • Instruct a solicitor and a barrister.

 

But now there is the additional option of instructing a public access barrister for some or all of the hearings in the case.

 

​By doing this it may be possible to get excellent legal representation for less cost.

Is Public Access right for me?

Not always. It depends on the type of case and the issues involved. Anyone intending to use a public access barrister should expect to have a greater role in peparing the case before the final hearing. Clients can expect to get advice about what they need to do, but need to undertake more of the preparation work themselves.

 

Barrister's chambers do not employ large numbers of administrative staff as our focus is providing advice and representation at court. 

This is reflected in lower fees and the high quality service we are still able to offer.

 

Some types of cases will continue to benefit from the involvement of solicitors, for example :

 

  • Where the client is entitled to public funding (or 'legal aid') and wants to fund the case in this way.

  • Cases that require money to be held 'on account' for the client.

  • When a client will struggle to undertake the preparatory work and needs the extra support a solicitor can offer.

  • Complex matters that require the use of both a barrister and solicitor.

 

We initially assess whether your circumstances are suitable for public access instructions.

If the arrangement is not right for you, for any reason, we will always advise you how best to proceed.

What do I need to do?

Step 1

Identify the area of law your case concerns

  • Have a look at our page headed 'Practice Groups' and see if we undertake the type of work you need help with.

       There are some examples below if you're not sure. 

Family Law 

 

  • Couples divorcing or separating & trying to divide their assets 

      ('Ancillary Relief')

  • Deciding where children will live if their parents live apart

      ('Residence Orders')

  • Arrangements for children to spend time with parents or grandparents ('Contact Orders')

  • Disputes about particular matters concerning children ('Specific Issue Order')

  • Financial provision for children ('Maintenance' payments)

  • Problems with violence or harrassment from ex-partners

      ('Non-Molestation Injunctions')

Motoring Offences

 

  • Speeding offences

  • Using a mobile phone whilst driving

  • Driving without due care and attention

  • Failing to stop or report an accident

  • Drink Driving 

  • 'Totting Up' 12 point disqualification

  • Avoiding disqualification through 'Special Reasons' or 'Exceptional Hardship' submissions

  • Persuading the court to impose fewer penalty points ('mitigation')

Common Law

 

  • Tradesmen not completing work as agreed ('Breach of Contract')

  • Bad or cancelled holiday accomodation

  • Defective or shoddy shop purchases ('Sale of Goods')

  • Failure by a company to provide services as promised ('Misrepresentation')

  • Problems with property after the death of a family member ('Probate')

  • Civil actions against the police (Negligence or unlawful force)

 

Employment Law

 

  • Being sacked by your employer for no good reason ('Unfair Dismissal')

  • Being unfairly selected for redundancy

  • Prejudicial treatment because of sex or race ('Discrimination')

  • Unfairly disadvantaged because of age or disability

  • Employers contesting unjustified claims from staff

     ('Respondent defence' work)

  • Employers needing advice to ensure their procedures are fair

Step 2

Get in touch with us

  • Download and complete the Public Access Enquiry Form and email it back to us.

 

  • We will identify which barristers may be suitable for your case and check their diary.  We'll let you know who is available for the day of any hearing.

 

  • You can visit the 'People' section of our website and choose which available barrister you would like to instruct.

 

  • Let us know who you want.

 

The barrister will contact you by telephone shortly after to discuss whether your case is suitable for public access. There is no charge for this. 

 

If public access is suitable for you and your case we can arrange a meeting to discuss things more fully and identify what work needs to be done and the cost.

 

Step 3

Choose the work you want us to do

Access the level of service that suits you :

 

  • You may want a number of meetings to discuss developments or just one conference to decide whether you have a case.

 

  • You may want a barrister to represent you at every hearing or just the final hearing in the case.

 

  • At each stage of the court process we will agree a fixed fee before undertaking any work.

 

If you have any questions please email our clerks, they'll be happy to help.