Members of the public now have the option of obtaining advice from a barrister directly – a “public access barrister” (like me) is a barrister who has received the necessary training to act on instruction from the public directly.
Previously, you had to pay a solicitor to listen to you and relay the same question to the barrister. Many people are capable of cutting the middle-solicitor-man out or bring a solicitor in later on (that is an invaluable option that should not be forgotten).
Looking at the flow chart, you can see how the advantages crystallise:
- Save money on legal fees (by saving on instructing a solicitor and a barrister);
- Save time, which can be better invested in your business (by saving time);
- Avoid the risk of litigation, in particular, the costs of the other side (by increasing the likelihood of an advantageous settlement); and
- Save goodwill between business partners.
There are classic cases where the public access scheme is ideal:
1) Upon receiving advice on the merits of the case, you (or me on your behalf) can be empowered to negotiate an advantageous settlement (per example in the flow chart).
2) Running a long running dispute, including court proceedings, where you are able to manage documentation – this could include bringing in a solicitor for the specialist tasks of e.g. disclosure exercise (providing relevant information to the other side that they might want to look at).
However, solicitors are good at what they do – if you are not happy with managing documentation or keeping track with deadlines, you may be happier to instruct solicitors – who will bring in a barrister when required. Of course, you will need to appreciate the likely increased legal costs.
How to Instruct me as a Public Access Barrister?
- Contact me or my chambers and book a client conference
– My clerks can help identify a time that works for you and me
- Attend the client conference (cost, circa £300 – £500)
– Can be face-to-face or skype etc.
- Receive written advice (cost, circa £500 – £2,000)
– The advice will cover agreed issues, e.g. chances of success or next steps.
- Attempt to settle matters by negotiation
– You (or me on your behalf) can then conduct negotiations with a handle of the strengths and weaknesses of your legal position.
What happens if matters do not settle through negotiation / mediation etc.
Consideration will need to be given as to whether court proceedings should be issued.
More information on public access
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If any readers have questions on this article, they will be happily received @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taj Uddin, MA Oxon
Barrister, Guildhall Chambers Portsmouth
Practising in London and the South (Salisbury to Brighton, Oxford to IoW)