Direct Access

Organisations and members of the public can instruct our barristers directly on most civil matters without having to go through a solicitor or other legal intermediary.

Barristers at Outer Temple are able, in appropriate cases, to receive instructions under the Direct Access Scheme described below. Our practice management team are trained in managing direct access matters and are happy to answer any questions you may have.

The scheme is run by the Bar Council. You can find out more information on the Bar Council’s Direct Access pages or by reading the attached Public Access Guide for Lay Clients.

What is Direct Access?

Direct Access is also commonly referred to as Public Access and is the term used to describe members of the public going directly to a barrister, rather than through a solicitor or other authorised litigator. Only barristers who have completed special direct access training are allowed to deal with members of the public directly. Some cases may not be suitable for Direct Access because of their emotional nature, because they are particularly complex, or because the type of work that needs to be done to prepare the case would be difficult for you and also may not be able to be undertaken by a barrister. If a barrister believes that your case would benefit from the involvement of a solicitor, we will tell you so.

The Direct Access Scheme allows you to engage a barrister directly. You can get the specialist of your choice, avoiding duplication of time, effort and cost. However it does mean that you, the potential client, must take responsibility for some of the preliminary work normally done by a solicitor or other professional. Research suggests that direct access to the Bar can be cheaper and can produce a better service for many legal issues, rather than going through a solicitor first. Barristers frequently have lower overheads and therefore lower hourly rates and if you come direct to the Bar, you may not have to pay for the services of a solicitor at all.

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What can a Direct Access barrister do?

While not every matter is suitable for Direct Access work, in the right circumstances you can benefit from a complete package of legal services without the need to pay for an additional legal team. Our barristers can provide you with direct, expert legal advice on a wide range of legal issues, involving the right experts as appropriate. This includes drafting contracts, terms of business and correspondence, statements from litigants and witnesses and instructions to expert witnesses, advising on the next steps in proceedings, drafting formal court documents and representing you in court or at a tribunal.

What can they not do?

If you are using a Direct Access barrister you may in some cases need to do some things yourself, including conducting litigation. “Conducting litigation” includes filing documents at court and serving documents on others. “Serving documents” on another person means a formal handing over of those documents to them. A Direct Access barrister should be able to tell you – before their appointment – what they can and can’t do and what you might need to do for yourself. You may need to be able to tackle certain administrative tasks to help your case along, without the help of another legal professional. For example, you may need to be able to gather together the papers and the evidence in support of your case. You may also need to file documents at court (for example, submit documents such as expert reports, case summaries or witness statements, depending on the case) and write to the court and other parties (although the barrister will be able to draft letters and other legal documents on your behalf). If you are not sure if you will be able to assist with the various administrative tasks for whatever reason, it is worth considering if it would be better to have a solicitor assist you with your case.

“Litigation” is when a legal case is taken to and through a court and some tribunals. Unlike solicitors, not all barristers are able to conduct litigation. If a barrister cannot do this for you and you have no solicitor acting for you, you will be a “litigant in person” and will be treated by the court and the other side as though you were acting without any legal assistance.

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What instructions do you take via Direct Access?

We are very experienced at taking direct instruction from company directors, owner-managers, senior partners and other professionals, and from trade unions and their members. These instructions are provided to the same exemplary standards that we apply to all our clients.

We are often instructed by members of the public, through the Direct Access route, to advise on employment law, disciplinary & regulatory matters, professional negligence, Inheritance Act advice as well as health & safety disputes.

If we can help you with your case we will put in writing what work we will do for you and how much it will cost. You have 14 days to change your mind if you decide not to go ahead for any reason.

Further information sheets, which include details of pricing and service, are provided in relation to direct access work concerning:

We are unfortunately unable to take on Conditional Fee Arrangements (No-Win No-Fee) through this scheme. These arrangements are often used in personal injury and clinical negligence claims due to the complexity of the claims. We would advise that you speak to a solicitor in the first instance and they can then instruct a barrister as appropriate. If the case is funded on a CFA, the costs of instructing your solicitor and barrister will normally be passed on anyway.

Legal Aid

If you instruct a barrister using the Direct Access scheme, you will not be able to apply for legal aid. A Direct Access barrister or our practice management team should be able to help you make an informed decision about whether to apply for legal aid using a solicitor, or proceed with Direct Access.

Licensed access

Under what is known as the licensed access scheme, our barristers can accept instructions from certain professional individuals and organisations licensed by the Bar Standards Board. All instructions received under the licensed access scheme will be accepted on the basis of the Bar Council’s Licensed Access Terms of Work. Further information on the scheme can be found on the Bar Standard Board’s website, including a list of licensees.

How do I make a Direct Access enquiry?

To make a direct access enquiry, please use the direct access enquiry form.

Once we receive your details, we will review your request and get in touch. If we think one of our barristers can assist you and deal with your case (under the direct access rules set by the body that regulates barristers, the Bar Standards Board) we will discuss with you the best way forward.

The barrister may need a preliminary meeting or discussion by phone to establish if the matter is suitable for Direct Access. The barrister will advise you on any costs involved at this fact finding stage.

We will undertake identity checks to comply with regulations concerning anti-money laundering and may in certain circumstances undertake credit checks.

The law requires the barrister, in certain circumstances, to obtain proof of your identity (name, date of birth and current address). The barrister will advise you of the type of evidence required, which will depend on the circumstances.

We would please ask that you do not send us any associated documents (especially originals) before we have agreed with you that a barrister will be able to assist you. If we need to see specific case-related documents, we will discuss this with you at a later stage.

We aim to respond to any enquiry within three working days of receipt of your enquiry.

What happens after you accept my case?

If we can help you with your case we will set out our terms in a client care letter. This client care letter will detail the work to be undertaken, the basis on which you will be charged for that work, and the other terms of the agreement between you and the barrister. You then have 14 days to review and decide if you wish to proceed.

If your case is not suitable for Direct Access, the barrister will advise accordingly and may recommend a suitable solicitor for your needs.

Costs

Costs will be discussed at the fact finding stage. You may be offered a fixed fee or an hourly rate. The rates depend of the area of law, the complexity of the work and the seniority of the barrister required.

Court hearings are usually charged on a fixed fee basis. Paperwork is generally charged based on an hourly rate.

Our quotes are exclusive of VAT but all our barristers are VAT registered so you will need to account for this on any invoices. This will be set out in the letter of retainer.

Extra costs may include travel expenses, accommodation, copying charges and search fees. Insofar as these fees are payable by the barrister on the basis that we will recover them from you, we will agree them with you in advance wherever possible.

Court fees are payable direct to the court. Unless you specifically agree otherwise, where the barrister’s fee relates to a hearing, the barrister (and therefore you) will be entitled to be paid that fee, irrespective of whether the hearing goes ahead.

Where it is not possible to agree a fee in advance, you should ask for an estimate. It may also be possible for you agree with the barrister that there should be a “ceiling” on the fee charged for a particular piece of work. Where a fee is not fixed in advance and the work involves the production of paperwork (for example, the drafting of a contract), the barrister may require you to pay for the work in accordance with the terms set out before releasing it to you.

The barrister is required to keep sufficient records to justify the fees that he or she is charging. You are entitled to details to justify the fee that you are being charged.

From time to time barristers may increase the rate at which they charge. This would generally not affect all cases but may affect if you have a long-running case. If it does, we will let you know and you will have the option either to agree to pay the barrister at the increased rate or to instruct another barrister.

Specific information about the pricing model, fees (and the circumstances in which they may vary) as well as additional costs and a description of the key stages of certain services is set out in the relevant information sheets above.

Further Information on Direct Access

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) regulates barristers and has produced guidance on the Direct Access Scheme for consumers called Public Access Guidance for Lay Clients.

Feedback On Our Services

We invite you to provide us with feedback on your experience working with Chambers. Please complete our online Client Satisfaction Survey to help us improve our services.

What To Do If You Have A Complaint

We pride ourselves on delivering a quality service to our lay clients. However, if you are unhappy with our service for any reason please contact Rhonda Murkin, HR & Regulatory Manager.

You can find out more about our Complaints Procedure here.

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