January 2014 saw a major invoative step forward in the rules regarding Direct (Public) Access. Barristers can now provide a more comprehensive to those clients who do not wish to engage the service of a solicitor.

A change in Law

Until 2004, barristers were only able to undertake work on the instructions of a solicitor.

However, a change in the law meant that barristers are now able to accept instructions from public and professional clients direct, without the need for instructing a solicitor in the first place.

Known as Public Access or Direct Access barristers, they do what barristers do in their normal course of business: they provide specialist legal advice, draft legal documents including documents needed during litigation, and provide specialist representation and advocacy before Courts and other Tribunals.

What are the benefits?

  • You only pay one legal advisor rather than two
  • You will know in advance the basis on which the work will be charged for
  • You can be advised and guided through the legal process by 1 person (your barrister) rather than by two (your solicitor and your barrister)
  • You can also get advice about setting up a business, drafting employment and other contracts, specifically with the aim of avoiding or reducing disputes in the future.
  • You can get a second opinion where solicitors have already been retained
  • You can get advice and/or representation before Tribunals including Criminal Compensation claims, Employment claims, Special Educational Needs and Disability Discrimination claims, and all other tribunals or formal hearings at which you are entitled to be represented

Your barrister will be able to inform you if you do need a solicitor, or the help and advice of another specialist, and may be able to recommend one. You are free to choose a solicitor or another specialist of your choice or even to consult with another public access barrister on the same or another matter.

What areas of law are suitable?

Public access is available in all types of work that barristers can including work funded by Legal Aid.  It is most suitable for reasonably straightforward cases particularly for advisory work affecting individuals and businesses and litigation support in all where proceedings are being made by or against individuals or businesses. If the barrister considers that your case would benefit from the involvement of a solicitor, he or she will tell you so.  A barrister may choose whether or not to take a public access case. If you are unsure of whether your legal issue is covered by Public Access, please contact Velda Middleton at velda@middleton-chambers.com or fill out our direct access enquiry form.

Read more about Direct Access barristers.