What work do you undertake via Public Access?
You can look at my "Profile and Experience" page to see the range of my practice. I act on a Public Access basis across this range of work by, for example, drafting up court documents (called "pleadings"), advising either in conference with you or in writing, representing you in Court or in arbitration/mediation, or negotiating on your behalf in existing proceedings. Like all barristers, I carry out specific pieces of work (such as for example representing you at a 1-day trial) for a pre-agreed fixed fee. Barristers are not "on call" in the same way as solicitors and we therefore do not charge for our time on an hourly basis.
I regret that I do not accept Legal Aid instructions, or matters which do not fall within the range of work set out on my Profile page. If you have any questions at all about whether I can be of assistance to you, please don't hesitate to contact Kate, my clerk, who will be pleased to help you.
Until a few years ago, only solicitors were permitted to instruct barristers directly. Now, anyone can instruct a barrister either through the Bar's Licensed Access Scheme (for members of professional organisations), or the Public Access Scheme (for members of the general public). I am authorised by the Bar Council to accept instructions directly under both the Licensed Access and the Public Access scheme. If you need more information about the Public Access Scheme, you can find it on the Bar Council's website here.
Instructing a barrister directly isn't for everyone, and there are pros and cons. These are set out in the Bar Council's Guide to Public Access, which you can get here, though it isn't the most user-friendly of documents. I have tried to answer a few of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below, but for detailed information you need to look through the documents in the links. If you have specific questions about my practice that aren't covered here, you can email my clerk Kate here and she will do her best to help.
Land Litigation - SME Developers, Landlords & Trustees
The Public Access Scheme is particularly advantageous and useful for SME companies looking to keep down their professional costs. If you run such a company, public access allows you to come directly to me and obtain specialist advice from an experienced land litigator on the merits and prospects of a potential or ongoing lawsuit. There is no longer a need to instruct solicitors first. The administrative steps in the litigation can usually be kept in-house (and therefore low-cost) and the overall costs bill can often be very significantly reduced.
My contested land litigation experience is very wide, and it has been possible only to provide a selection of it on my Profile page. If your problem is not covered there, I am always happy to answer enquiries from SME developers and landholders about whether I may be able to help with either threatened, contemplated or ongoing legal proceedings. Ring me on 0798 657 5399 or email my clerk Kate on email@example.com asking for a callback.
What does it cost?
As with most professional services, the cost depends on how complicated the dispute is (including how many people are involved), how much specialist knowledge is required, and how long the work takes. There is unfortunately no easy answer to the question without contacting my clerk, Kate, and asking for a quote, which you can do without committing yourself to sending me instructions.
It is worth pointing out though that like all barristers I work on a fixed-fee as opposed to an hourly basis. That means that I quote a fixed fee for all of the work involved in carrying out your instructions: for example, to draft a Defence for you in the County Court. I do not charge per hour for the work. I also do not charge VAT on my fees.
Public (Direct) Access: "See you in court!"
Frequently Asked Questions
Instructing a barrister directly (in, say, a divorce financial remedy case or a trusts of land case) can be a very good way of getting expert help where you need it and dispensing with it where you don't. It enables you to use a limited budget to present your case in the best possible way, and get some advice about your prospects from someone who has experience of putting this type of case to a court.
However there are a few things you should be aware of if you're considering instructing a barrister directly in a family case. Barristers cannot conduct litigation*, so they can't file papers for you at Court or run the admin. side of your case -- that is something that you would have to do for yourself. You would need to be confident that you can understand the Court Rules and comply with them: it would be your responsibility to meet the deadlines. There will probably be stretches of the litigation where you will have to find your own way, and before starting out on the direct access route, you need to decide whether that is something you will find easy to do.
Public Access Family Litigation
If this is something you're considering, you may want to email Kate, my clerk, with some brief details of your current situation and the kind of assistance you are looking for. You can use the email form on the "Contact" page. We will always try to help, or to steer you in the right direction if we cannot. As far as going it alone is concerned, either for part of the way or the full journey, the Civil Justice Section of the Circuit Judges Committee has produced a Handbook for Litigants in Person. I have included a link to it on my Links page. It is full of useful information and advice; try not to be put off by the style. If you are acting for yourself in Trusts of Land proceedings, I urge you to read the relevant section in the Bar Council's Guide.
*There are plans at the moment to allow barristers to conduct litigation from (at the earliest) January 2014, but the Practice Rules do not allow this yet.