Art in Chambers:
Charing Cross Road
London 1937 by Wolf Suschitzky
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What is Public Access?
Until fairly recently, anyone who wanted to consult a barrister was obliged to do so through a solicitor (or occasionally through another professional such as an accountant). On 6th July 2004 this position changed: companies, businesses and members of the public can now engage a barrister directly as long as that barrister has undertaken the necessary training and is authorised to accept instructions under the Public Access scheme.
What has changed?
The kind of work which barristers can and cannot undertake has not changed. What has changed is that they can do this work for you directly and you do not have to use solicitors or other intermediaries.
What services do barristers offer?
Members of Chambers provide specialist legal advice and advocacy. The public view of a barrister is as an advocate, conducting cases in courts and tribunals. As barristers, however, we perform a wider range of services; for example:
- giving specialist advice on legal problems
- drafting formal documents such as contracts and standard terms of business
- drafting letters for you to send
In the context of litigation, as well as appearing in courts and tribunals, a barrister can:
- advise you on the formal steps to take in proceedings
- draft formal court or tribunal documents (applications, claim forms, defences)
- prepare witness statements from information supplied by you
- advise on the choice of an expert witness and draft the letter of instruction to the expert
- advise on the contents of an expert's report
What are barristers not permitted to do?
There are some services barristers are not allowed to undertake. Examples are:
- issuing court or tribunal documents or taking other formal steps in proceedings
- writing letters directly on your behalf using your own writing paper
- contacting potential witnesses or investigating evidence
- instructing an expert witness on your behalf
- undertaking the general management of your case or your business affairs
- handling your money
If a barrister cannot do these things, what should I do?
If you are willing and able to do these things yourself, we can help you to do them. However, if we believe that you need to consult a solicitor, we are obliged to advise you to do so and we can help you to choose a suitable solicitor.
Is any kind of work outside the Public Access scheme?
Yes. Outside the scheme are the following types of work:
- all immigration work
- most family work
- most criminal work
Can any of the barristers at 1 Chancery Lane help you?
1 Chancery Lane operates as a group of independent, self-employed barristers each with his or her own areas of practice. Together, members of Chambers can provide specialist help over a wide range of legal areas. If you want to find out more about the services we offer, look at the 'Practice Areas' section of our website to see what we all do and at the 'Barristers' section to see each barrister's personal qualifications and experience. Those barristers who are currently authorised to accept Public Access instructions are Andrew Warnock QC, Nicholas Yell, Alastair Hammerton, Marc Rivalland, Justin Althaus, Geoffrey Weddell, Karen Shuman, Paul Stagg, Zachary Bredemear, Samantha Jackson, Kiril Waite, Ian Miller, Laura Johnson and Carla Revere.
Who can benefit from Public Access to 1 Chancery Lane?
As can be seen from the kind of work we do, we believe that we are able to help:
- companies and businesses
- professional individuals
- public bodies, local authorities and housing associations
We can of course help other individuals but it is quite likely that it would be more sensible for you to speak to a solicitor first.
What will it cost?
The cost will depend on a number of factors
- the seniority and experience of the barrister consulted
- the difficulty of the case
- the amount of work involved
We can undertake work at an hourly rate or we can quote you a flat fee for particular pieces of work. But in all cases:
- the rate or fee will be negotiated and agreed with you before the work starts and we will stick to it;
- if it is clear that your case needs further work once the barrister has completed the agreed work you will be advised of this. If you want the barrister to do the further work and he or she is willing to undertake it, a new rate or fee will need to be negotiated and agreed before the further work is undertaken.
You may be asked to pay any fees in advance of the work being done.
Can I get public funding?
At present, public funding is not available for work undertaken by barristers under the Public Access scheme. We are not able to advise you on your eligibility for public funding.
How do I instruct a barrister at 1 Chancery Lane?
If you believe that we may be able to help you, please either call our clerks room on 0845 634 6666 or email our clerks at email@example.com setting out a short summary of your position.
Please do not send us any documents (especially original documents) until a barrister has agreed to take your case.
What happens next?
We cannot accept any responsibility for advising you until the barrister you want to instruct has agreed to take your case. Once the barrister has agreed to act for you, you will be sent a 'client care letter'. This letter will be your contract with the barrister for the work to be done.
Can the barrister, once instructed, decide to stop acting for me?
In some circumstances, yes. The barrister has a duty both to you and to the interests of justice in general. The time might come when the barrister decides that it would be appropriate for you to instruct a solicitor or another professional. This does not necessarily mean that the barrister has to stop acting for you: what it means is that some work needs to be done on your case which a barrister cannot undertake.
For example, if you needed to sue someone but you did not feel confident that you could do all the administrative tasks a solicitor would do (issuing proceedings etc) then those tasks would have to be handed over to a solicitor. The barrister could still draft documents and represent you in court.
If this happens:
- we will tell you at the earliest opportunity
- we will help you to find a solicitor or other professional if you want us to do so
- we will tell you what steps you need to take to preserve the position while the solicitor or other professional is brought on board.