Public Access

For centuries, the only way in which you could in instruct a barrister was to also instruct a solicitor. The introduction of the Public Access (sometimes called Direct Access) Scheme in April 2013 changed that. You can now instruct an expert barrister to represent you without also instructing a solicitor. This will enable you to instruct a barrister of your choice directly and much more cost effectively than instructing a solicitor alone or instructing both a solicitor and a barrister.

Directly instructing a barrister under the Public Access Scheme will usually be the most cost effective option because:

  • Barristers are self-employed and have much lower overheads than a solicitors.
  • You can instruct a barrister to deal only with the aspects of your case that you cannot deal with yourself, whereas a solicitor will generally expect to deal with everything.
  • Barristers will in the vast majority of cases agree a fixed fee in advance of any work requested, enabling you to keep tight control over your budget.

Whilst the majority of cases are suitable for Direct Public Access, there are some that are not and which require a solicitor and a barrister. The cases that are not suitable for Direct Public Access are generally those that require action of some sort on a daily basis. As barristers spend much of their day in court, they cannot always respond immediately to correspondence or requests for urgent advice. Also, if you do not feel able to have day to day conduct of your case, for example by corresponding with the other party and the court, then you may require a solicitor. If I do not think your case is suitable for Public Access, I will tell you so.

The Bar Council has issued guidance for the public on the Public Access Scheme. To read it click here.

If you would like advice on whether or not your case is likely to be suitable for Public Access, please contact me.