public access barristers
Public Access barristers can be instructed directly by members of the public or businesses to provide legal advice or representation in court.
Public Access barristers are normal barristers (a type of lawyer) with an extra legal qualification. Before a barrister can undertake Public Access work, he or she must have completed a special course. Once qualified, they can provide legal advice and representation directly to members of the public, without the need for a solicitor involved. Most areas of law are covered by Public Access barristers, and they appear before most courts and tribunals across England and Wales.
What do barristers do?
Barristers provide expert legal advice and are specialist advocates. Being a lawyer, they can draft legal documents for clients, both general legal documents (e.g. wills or contracts) and litigation documents (e.g. Claim Forms, Particulars of Claim and Defences), provide legal advice where there is a claim or legal dispute (e.g. what your chances of success are), and advise and represent clients in court or before tribunals.
What can public access barristers do?
Public access barristers are able to do the following things:
(1) represent you in court or before a tribunal;
(2) give legal advice to assist you with your problem. This can be before or after formal legal proceedings are issued and could relate to the merits of your claim or your defence, the strength of the evidence and what further evidence, including expert evidence, could be obtained. Your barrister can advise you on how to prepare documents for trial and on how to appeal if required;
(3) negotiate a settlement for you;
(4) investigate and collect evidence for you, though subject to some limitations (such as paying experts and finding witnesses);
(5) draft formal litigation documents, such as a statement of case (i.e. a document setting out the claim or defence) or witness statements based on information you or your witnesses provide;
(6) draft routine legal documents for example, leases, wills, deeds or contracts.
What can't public access barristers do?
Barristers are not allowed to do certain things. A client may be expected to do some of these things themselves:
(1) barristers are not allowed to actually issue proceedings or applications in court on your behalf, although of course they can represent you once the claim or application has been issued. The barrister can draft these documents for you and advise you on how to issue at the court office. What the barrister is not allowed to do, and what you will need to do, is to attend the court building with the claim or application documents (and the issue fee) and have the proceedings formally issued;
(2) barristers cannot instruct an expert witness for you. A barrister can advise you as to which expert is suitable and draft the appropriate letter of instruction for formally contracting with the expert, but you will have to send this letter and agree to pay the expert yourself;
(3) a barrister is allowed to use his or her notepaper (or Chambers' notepaper) to send letters on your behalf but only in certain circumstances, closely linked to barrister's normal work. In any event, a barrister can always draft letters for you and send them to you to adopt. You then send the barrister's letter to the otherside but in your own name;
(4) barristers are not allowed to take responsibility for handling their client’s affairs generally, or the day to day management of a client's case. Barristers are instructed for particular legal disputes, claims or issues, rather than instructed permanently to deal with whatever issues arise day to day. The address for service of documents will be your address rather than the barrister's address;
(5) barristers are not allowed to handle client’s money;
(6) barristers cannot accept work that is paid for by legal aid. You can instruct the barrister to represent you if you agree to pay the barrister privately, waiving any entitlement you may have to have your legal expenses paid for by legal aid.
These rules are imposed on barristers by the Bar Standards Board, the body which regulates the profession. Consequentially, barristers are not able to waive these restrictions.
Once again, it is important to note that the role of the barrister remains the same. It is the access to a barrister which has been opened up to more people.
Because the role of barristers has not changed, the client takes on a more extensive role than he would do if he were instructing a barrister through a solicitor. Since there is no solicitor acting between the barrister and the client, the client has to do some of the routine work traditionally undertaken by a solicitor (under the watchful guidance of the barrister). Of course, whatever work you do yourself will be work you will not be billed for and so, potentially saving you money.