Before 2004 it was not possible for members of the public to engage a barrister without first instructing a solicitor. That changed when the Public Access Rules for barristers were introduced in 2004. You may now instruct a barrister directly.
In certain cases, barristers can accept work directly from the public, other professionals, foreign lawyers, organisations and commercial companies without incurring the additional expense of a solicitor, potentially saving you a significant amount of money overall.
Communication with a specialist direct access barrister is faster because you are dealing with the barrister directly. Direct Access to barristers, however, may not be appropriate in the some cases – which are better suited to the traditional model of instructing a barrister through a solicitor.
Full details of the Bar Council’s public access scheme, including relevant guidance, can be found on their website at:www.barcouncil.org.uk. Not all cases will be suitable, but the Bar Council sets out the details of the sort of direct access work a barrister is permitted to conduct without a solicitor being involved.
In brief, a barrister working on direct public access cases can represent a client in courts and tribunals, and provide specialist legal advice including giving a second opinion. He or she can also assist in drafting correspondence, statements and documents required by the court, and he or she can advise on the use and instruction of experts in certain cases.
However, a direct access barrister cannot correspond directly with other parties in the case, or collect evidence or interview witnesses. They cannot issue court documents, instruct experts directly on your behalf, or handle clients’ money or hold money on account.