How to instruct a barrister

What does a barrister do?

A barrister (sometimes called counsel) is a type of lawyer who gives specialist legal advice, who drafts important legal documents, and who represents people in court. The main other type of lawyer is a solicitor. Solicitors undertake the general aspects of giving legal advice and conducting legal proceedings. Although solicitors represent people in court, they often tend to instruct barristers to provide such representation. They also tend to instruct barristers to provide specialist legal advice and to draft important legal documents.

How do I instruct a barrister?

The usual route to a barrister is through a solicitor and you should discuss with your solicitor whether it is important to have a barrister’s involvement in your case. Should you wish to instruct a barrister from Garden Court North Chambers your solicitor can contact our Practice Management Team and make the necessary arrangements.

Whilst all the barristers at Chambers accept instructions from solicitors, it is now possible, in certain circumstances, for those who have received the appropriate training to accept instructions directly from members of the public. This is known as Public Access.

If you would like to instruct one of our barristers through Public Access you should first read the rest of this page and then complete the form at the bottom of the page.

How does Public Access differ from instructing a solicitor?

The barrister’s role remains essentially the same as when they are approached by a solicitor or another intermediary. Barristers can advise you on your legal status or rights. Barristers can draft and send documents for you and can represent you in court, tribunal or mediations. They can also negotiate on your behalf and can attend interviews and hearings where appropriate.

Incidences where a member of the public may be able to instruct a barrister using Public Access include where:

  • You need legal advice and analysis;
  • You are engaged in a course of correspondence;
  • You want work carried out before litigation starts;
  • You wish to negotiate with the other side;
  • You wish to appeal;
  • You are engaged in a hearing before a tribunal;
  • You wish to avoid litigation altogether;
  • You wish to engage in Mediation;
  • There will be a trial without many, or any, issues of fact;
  • The case involves points of law rather than fact; or
  • The case is not contentious at all, but requires advice or drafting of a letter or document.

What are the advantages of Public Access?

The main advantage of Public Access is the money you will save by not having to instruct and pay a solicitor for additional legal support because the barrister can conduct the case.

Some barristers still work closely with solicitors in cases which are not suitable for Public Access. A barrister may also recommend a solicitor to you for some stages of a Public Access case, such as issuing and serving claims, instructing experts, handling money or interviewing witnesses.

What is Chamber’s Public Access Policy?

The Public Access barristers at Chambers accept instructions from the public on terms that are strictly compliant with the latest version of the Bar Standards Board Handbook. Barristers who may accept instructions from the public may be found at the Bar Council Direct Access Portal.

Under the rules, barristers are not usually allowed to ‘litigate’ unless they have applied for and been granted an extension to their practising certificate that allows them to litigate. This means that, in most cases, barristers are only entitled to advise you and represent you in court and are not allowed, for example, to file documents at court or to exchange letters with the other side in the case. Because of these limitations you may be advised that your case is not suitable for Public Access. For further information please see the Public Access Scheme Guidance for Lay Clients especially at paragraphs 4 to 8 under the heading “Is my case suitable for public access?”.

Please note that the ‘Cab Rank Rule’ that requires barristers to accept instructions in certain circumstances does not apply to Public Access work. Public Access barristers are not required to accept instructions from a member of the public in any circumstances and may refuse to accept your case.

If you are dissatisfied with the service you have received, Chambers has a Complaints Procedure and information about it will be provided to you with your Client Care Letter.

If you instruct a Garden Court North barrister on a public access basis, then we will follow the procedure set out below, in strict compliance with the Bar Standards Board Handbook.

After you have filled out the Public Access Enquiry Form below, our Practice Management Team will allocate your case to a barrister who is licenced to take instructions directly from the public, ie a Public Access barrister. If you have asked for a specific barrister, that person will be asked to consider taking on the case first. If he or she is unable to take the case for whatever reason, the Practice Management Team will ask if any other appropriately qualified barrister is available, unless you tell them not to. You will normally be told within two clear working days of making your enquiry if someone is available to take your case. For example, if you enquire on a Monday at any time before 5pm, you will normally be told by the end of business on Wednesday of the same week whether a barrister is available; if you enquire on a Friday, you will be told before the end of the next Tuesday, etc.

You may be asked for further details about your case or further documents. If your case is complex or if there is delay in obtaining the further information from you, then allocation may take longer than two days. Please do not contact Chambers while you are awaiting a response unless you are asked to provide further details. Repeated enquiries about your case may delay allocation.

If you choose to instruct a barrister that is available, you will be sent a Client Care Letter that sets out the problem you have described, what you have asked for, the steps the barrister will agree to take, precisely what work will be done, the time it will take and any notable deadlines, and what he or she will charge you for that work.

Please read the Client Care Letter carefully. You must sign and date one copy of the Client Care Letter and send it back to us, along with payment in the full amount as set out in the Client Care Letter. The barrister cannot begin work on your case until you do this. All work that the barrister agrees to perform must be paid for in advance.

The Client Care Letter is a contract between you and the barrister for the work described in it. Any further work will require a new Client Care Letter and further payment.

The Client Care Letter will contain advice on the next steps in your case. The barrister may ask you to make an appointment for a conference by contacting the Practice Management Team. Or, if there is no need for a conference, the barrister may ask you to send in your case papers by post or as scanned attachments to an email (but not by fax). Please note that a reasonable charge for printing will be included if you expect us to print your case papers.

You may need to gather certain documents or information, or to contact people for other evidence. Also, you may need to send certain documents to the court, or to the other side in the case. The Client Care Letter will explain what you need to do.

The Client Care Letter will also explain what the barrister will do after you have returned a copy of it with payment. Remember that the barrister cannot begin work on you case until you return the Client Care Letter with the agreed payment.

How do I know if a barrister accepts Public Access instructions?

If you would like to know which of our barristers are trained to accept Public Access please visit our barristers page and look for the term Public Access, which can be found next to the barrister’s full name.

If you are unsure about whether or not you can instruct a barrister by Public Access please contact the Practice Management Team on 0161 817 6377 or at gcn@gcnchambers.co.uk

Public access inquiry form

  • Area of law

  • Include date of hearing already listed
  • Please bear in mind that we cannot guarantee that a specific barrister will be able to take a case on.
  • Drop files here or
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