All barristers are registered with the Bar Council which keeps records of those barrister trained and authorised to undertake direct access work.
Over the last few years the Bar Council has relaxed the rules to allow members of the public to take advantage of a Barrister’s expertise without having to go through a solicitor.
As a barrister who is authorised to undertake direct access work, Michael is qualified to do the following:
~ Meet with clients and give initial advice about law, procedure and possible outcomes;
~ Draft letters on clients’ behalf;
~ Draft court documents;
~ Advise clients on an ongoing basis;
~ Attend court with clients;
~ Act as an advocate during court hearings
A direct access barrister will be able to give immediate advice but will not necessarily expect to undertake any additional work. The benefit to clients is a proper understanding of where they stand, what their options are and what steps might be taken without committing to ongoing legal expenses.
Clients generally need immediate advice when a relationship ends to understand their rights and obligations regarding their children and their former spouse or partner. They need advice on how their joint assets might be divided and on how to manage financially in the meantime. Some will need advice about a situation that may be dangerous or abusive or on how to get their ex out of the family home. Some people will need urgent advice to prevent their children being removed.
With advice clients can very often act to resolve their situation directly with their ex and may only feel the need to take further advice only if they cannot reach an amicable agreement. In that case they can return to their direct access barrister to:
~ Discuss applying for court orders;
~ Seek advice about any court action their ex may be taking against them;
~ Receive help with drafting statements and other court documents;
~ Be represented at court hearings
How do Direct Access Barristers Charge?
Barristers usually charge by the hour for meetings, telephone advice and reading or drafting documents. Court representation is usually carried out for a fixed fee that will include all the preparatory work and a follow up letter setting out what happened during the hearing and what needs to be done next. All payments are made in advance so clients know exactly how much each stage of the work will cost and bills are not being run up unexpectedly.
Direct access is not suitable for clients who may be eligible for Legal Aid, who will need to apply for funding through a solicitor.
It is difficult to estimate how much money clients may save by using a direct access barrister instead of paying a solicitor, and possibly a barrister too. Each case is different and the cost saving will depend on how much of the work clients are able to do themselves. As the barrister will not undertake the day to day running of a case the savings are likely to be significant. Furthermore because clients pay in advance there are no nasty shocks when a bill arrives. The client’ control how much is spent as the case progresses.
For more information, or to see how a Direct Access Barrister can help, please call me on 020 7353 2532 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org