Below are some FAQs which you may find useful.
What is Public Access?
In the past it was necessary for clients to use a solicitor or other third party in order to instruct a barrister, but now the Public Access Scheme allows members of the public to instruct a barrister directly.
Is my case suitable for Public Access?
Most areas of law are now suitable for Public Access. We offer Public Access in the following practice areas, depending on availability and the suitability of cases:
– Family Law including financial cases
– Civil law
– Criminal Law
It may be that cases which require a high level of litigation would be better suited to involving a Solicitor, but once we have received your papers you will be advised by us in the early stages whether your case is suitable for Public Access or not.
How can I make an initial enquiry?
In order to make an initial enquiry, please either email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0115 9418851. To help us find the right barrister for you, we will require the following information:
* Your name and address (to check for any possible conflicts of interest)
* Type of Case (area of law)
* Your hearing date or date by which advice is required
* Hearing location
* Stage of Proceedings (a most recent order is helpful)
* Issue you would like to be resolved
A brief email with the above information can be the best and quickest way to check we have a barrister available to help you with your case.
What service will be provided for the fees I pay and how do I make payment?
You will receive a bespoke, easily accessible, professional service from our barristers, together with the help from our clerks to make sure you receive the support and guidance required. This depends entirely on the status and requirements of your case.
Depending on your case and the work you require completed, barristers can be instructed to provide advice (either in conference or over the telephone) and represent you at Court or tribunals.
A proposed fee will be provided by one of the clerks and, once agreed, the barrister will require payment before any work is carried out. We accept payment via card either over the phone or in person, or by bank transfer.
Can I instruct a barrister directly using public funding?
If you are eligible for public fiunding (also known as legal aid) or have already been granted funding for your case, a barrister will advise you to approach a solicitor. This is because barristers currently cannot do publicly funded work unless they have been instructed by a solicitor. Once you have instructed a solicitor, the barrister can be instructed through them.
You can see if you are eligible for legal aid here.
What work can a barrister do/cannot do under Public Access?
The Bar Standards Board rules specify that barristers can carry out the following on behalf of Public Access clients:
* A barrister can meet with you (a conference) and provide you with legal advice, or can advise in writing.
* A barrister can draft letters on your behalf and send them to another person.
* A barrister can prepare case documents (known as pleadings) such as a Claim Form, Particulars of Claim or Defence, or other documents such as a Form E.
* A barrister can appear on your behalf to argue your case at Court.
* If a witness statement is needed from you, a barrister can draft it from what you tell him. He may also be able to help finalise a witness statement from another person based on the information that person has provided.
* A barrister can advise you on the need for expert evidence and on the choice of a suitable expert, however they may not instruct an expert on your behalf.
A barrister is prohibited from carrying out the following:
* A barrister is not allowed to take responsibility for the general management of a client’s case.
* A barrister cannot hold his client’s money on account. This means they cannot make or arrange payment of Court fees, expert fees or witnesses’ expenses.
* A barrister cannot issue proceedings, file documents at Court or serve documents on other parties.
Your barrister is also under a professional obligation to tell you if they think your interests will be best served by instructing a solicitor.
What are the advantages of instructing a barrister directly rather than instructing a solicitor?
Previously clients were not allowed to engage the services of a barrister without first instructing a solicitor, so by instructing a barrister directly without going through a solicitor will save you money.
Another advantage is speed. If you require a barristers opinion urgently, it may be quicker to go to one directly rather than through a solicitor.
You may also feel like you have more control instructing a barrister directly. A solicitor will do all the work that is necessary on the case and charge you accordingly. Under the public access scheme, you can instruct a barrister to act in relation to a specified step in the process – for example to advise in conference or represent you at a hearing. You only pay for the work you ask them to do at a fee which is agreed between you and the barrister’s clerk in advance.
What information does my barrister need from me?
Once you have made an initial enquiry and we have a suitable barrister available either to attend your upcoming hearing, conference or provide an advice, your barrister will need to see the relevant documents, be it correspondence, emails, statements, photographs, plans, videos etc. The following point is however important and applies in every case:
All the documents you send must be copies. Barristers do not have the same facilities for storing files as solicitors and the Bar Council’s rules on Direct Access do not oblige a barrister to retain documents. For your protection you should keep all originals and only send copies to your barrister. In an exceptional case where it is not possible to provide a copy, please contact our clerks who will assist with making arrangements for safe delivery and return.
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