The Direct Access Scheme has shaken up how consumers are able to use barristers and has reduced their costs accordingly.
I am qualified to accept direct access instructions and am a member of a number of platforms that promote direct public access to Barristers, including the Bar Council's Direct Access Portal, however you can also contact me through this link.
What is the Direct Access Scheme
In this short video I explain what the Direct Access Scheme is, how it can save you a considerable amount of money and time.
Top Tips for making the Direct Access Scheme work for you
In this video I give you 10 tips fro making the Scheme work best for you
Getting the best from your Direct Access Barrister
In this video I show how to complete a bundle index and arrange attachments to an email to assist your barrister deal with your papers. A link to the bundle index file I use is here.
Direct Access Frequently Asked Questions
Both solicitors and barristers are lawyers, however their skills and experience a considerably different.
Barristers historically were trial advocates who can advise on tactics, draft documents and appear in court, they are generally seen as expert in one or more areas of law, and are self-employed and not responsible for the overheads or staff costs of a company.
Solicitors are experienced in conducting litigation (which many barristers cannot undertake), solicitors are experts in the "project management" side of your case and will be able to handle your money and serve documents on the other side or on the court. Again, historically they would take the case up to the hearing and
Barristers often work on a fixed-fee so you will know the cost for the particular piece of work in advance of the work being commenced.
Generally all matters are suitable for the direct access scheme, however the scheme has limits which may mean your particular case is best not dealt with using it.
For instance, matters that require the gathering of evidence, serving documents on the other side or court, instructing experts or other steps that are considered as "litigation" are not, generally, able to be undertaken by barristers (although some have qualified to conduct litigation).
Barristers can represent you in court or in tribunal or other disciplinary hearing, provide legal advice, help you draft letters to the other side, and give you advice on tactics and the law.
If after reviewing your case the barrister considers you need a solicitor to assist your case then the barrister is obliged to tell you. It will then be a decision for you as to whether you do instruct a solicitor, or conduct the litigation yourself.
Barristers are generally obliged to comply with the "cab rank rule" that requires them to accept a case if they are available for work on that day, the work is within an area they are suitably experienced in and the fee is considered reasonable. However, this rule does not apply to cases brought through the direct access scheme, so a barrister can refuse the case.
Every barrister's practice differs, but, if the instructions are for a court hearing, the barrister will usually check their diary to see if they can assist on the particular day. They should then let you know.
If they are able to help then there may be a short preliminary communication (usually by email) for the barrister to gaiters the facts of your case and then to provide a quote for the work.
If the quote is accepted then the barrister will draw up a Client Care Letter ("CCL"). The CCL forms a contract between you and the barrister, and a signed copy of the CCL will need to be returned to the barrister (often with payment for the work) in advance of them commencing the work.
Any discussion you have with a barrister is subject to legal privilege, that means the discussions are confidential between you and your barrister.
You should be aware however that there may be a legal obligation on the barrister that can require them to disclose information to governmental or other regulatory authorities and to do so without first obtaining your consent or telling you it has been made. These are not obligations that are unique to a barrister, as the same apply to solicitors.