“I didn’t know that I could go direct to a Barrister but at Cumbria Law Chambers I received expert advice and it cost less than going through a solicitor.”


PUBLIC ACCESS - UPDATED DECEMBER 2020


WHAT IS PUBLIC ACCESS?

Cumbria Law is equipped to accept work under the Direct Public Access scheme, which came into force in July 2004. The scheme enables members of the public and businesses to instruct barristers directly to provide legal advice, act on their behalf in a legal dispute and represent them in court. Dr. Tristan McGee is a registered public access barrister.

The barrister's role remains essentially the same as when they are approached by a solicitor or another intermediary. Public Access accredited barristers still receive instructions from solicitors and can assist you in deciding whether or not your case requires a solicitor.

Where your case does not require a solicitor, a public access barrister will be able to represent you directly, including drafting legal documents, court forms and letters, negotiating on your behalf, attending investigative interviews and hearings and representing you in court or at a tribunal or mediation. Where your case does require a solicitor your public access barrister can assist in finding the right solicitor for you.

A link to the Public Access Guidance for Lay Clients can be found on the BSB’s website (refer Rule 3 above). This can be accessed here

If you would like to speak with someone about Public Access and what Cumbria Law can do for you, including a Free no obligation assessment of your case, call 017684 86508  or  apply online and we will call you within 24 hours..

Public Access Explained

What is direct public access?

Members of the public, companies and businesses may now go directly to a barrister without having to involve a solicitor or other intermediary. This is called direct access or public access and is available in all areas of law. In the past it was necessary for clients to use a solicitor or other third party in order to instruct a barrister. Although the barrister's role remains essentially the same, members of the public may instruct a barrister directly through the public access scheme.

What are the advantages of the public access scheme?

There are three main advantages from going direct to a barrister:

1. You will receive expert opinion on your legal problem at every stage of your case;

2. Your case is likely to be resolved at a much earlier stage;

3. It is highly likely that we will save you time and money.

Although the public access barrister would be able to deal with most aspects of the case, you may have to assist in some areas, such as filing documents, prepared or overseen by the barrister, with the court.

Is my case suitable for public access?

Public access is available for all types of work that barristers can do, except for work funded by legal aid. It is most suitable for reasonably straightforward cases. If Tristan considers that your case would benefit from the involvement of a solicitor, or that your case is not suitable for a public access barrister, he will tell you so and there will be no charge for this.

What is the difference between barristers and solicitors?

Barristers provide expert legal advice, draft documents and represent clients at hearings and court. Most barristers specialise in one or more areas of law, such as contractual law, personal injury or employment and discrimination. Solicitors generally take responsibility for the management of their client’s legal case (conduct of litigation). Solicitors handle a client’s affairs and money, give advice and draft documents. Barristers can undertake this work only where they are authorised to conduct litigation.

Barristers tend to charge a fixed fee for a piece of work or for a hearing. Solicitors tend to charge by the hour, including travel time and waiting. Solicitors may also refer your case on to a barrister, in which case you pay both the solicitor and the barrister for their respective work. Under the direct public access scheme, you pay for the barrister only, and where a fixed fee is agreed you know the cost up-front.

What work can public access barristers carry out?

Public access barristers can carry our work in most areas of law. Cumbria Law accepts public access work in the following areas of law:

  • Employment Law.
  • Contractual Law.
  • Personal Injury Law.
  • Planning Law.

In relation to the above areas of law, our public access barrister Dr. Tristan McGee can:

  • represent you at court or at tribunals, appeal hearings, committee hearings and reviews;
  • give you legal advice about your case;
  • negotiate on your behalf;
  • advise you on the legal or procedural steps which need to be taken in your case;
  • draft documents for you, such as court proceedings, statements, contracts, commercial contracts and wills;
  • draft letters for you to send to others - the letter can state that it has been drafted by a barrister;
  • prepare your witness statement from what you tell them for use in proceedings;
  • prepare witness statements from another person based on the information which that person has provided;
  • advise on the evidence you need, but cannot investigate or collect evidence for use in proceedings;
  • advise you on the choice of a suitable expert and may draft a letter of instruction for you to send on your own notepaper.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of Public Access work and what we can do for you we will be pleased to hear from you.

What are the key stages in public access work?

In simple terms our key stages in carrying out public access work include the following:

1. Identify the area of law that your case falls to by reference to the Specialist Sections on our website.

2. Identify whether your case is suitable for public access by reference to our website or by calling us.

3. Call us to discuss your case, alternatively complete the Enquiry Form via the email link on our website.

4. Receive our request and send relevant documents for assessment by a barrister free of charge.

5. Receive a call within 3 working days to confirm whether your case is suitable for public access and to provide an indication of the cost of having a barrister manage your case and what work will be undertaken.

6. Agree Terms of Business, Work Plan, Fees and Instruction.

7. Pay the fee in advance and receive written confirmation of instruction and client care documents for signing and return as appropriate.

8. Commence work and follow through according to the agreed work plan for your case.

9. If it transpires that your case requires more or less work than anticipated we will inform you immediately. Where more work is required we will advise you of the cost and you will have the opportunity to decide whether you want us to carry out the additional work or not.

WHAT WILL IT COST?

The cost of a public access case will depend on a number of factors including:

  • The tasks your barrister is required to carry out for you.
  • Seniority of barrister.
  • Complexity of the case.
  • The volume of documents and evidence.
  • The time it takes to prepare.
  • The length of the hearing, tribunal, review.
  • Any novel points of law or additional research required.

Before we commence any public access work for you we will provide you with a clear pricing structure for the work. If having received our pricing structure you decide not to proceed we will return your documents to you free of charge. You will never be charged for work that you have not already agreed should be carried out. You will be asked to pay in advance for work you have agreed to be carried out.

If it transpires that your case requires more or less work than anticipated we will inform you immediately and advise you of the cost. You will have the opportunity to decide whether you want us to carry out the additional work or not. You will be asked to pay in advance for agreed additional work.

Our public access barrister is able to work on a fixed fee for a specific instruction or task or on an hourly rate and will discuss this with you in advance to establish the most appropriate fee structure in your personal circumstances. Payment can be made by cheque or by BACS transfer. We do not accept payment by Credit or Debit Card.

Hourly rates for our public access barrister range between £150 and £400 depending on area of expertise and the nature and complexity of the work to be carried out. Please contact Chambers to discuss rates. We are happy to provide a cost estimate for any case on request. Fees will not normally include VAT, but will attract VAT at the Standard rate. This will be made clear to you both in advance and in the written agreement. Any additional costs will be set out in the written agreement. The most likely additional cost is reasonable travel expenses. There will be no hidden additional costs. All work carried out for clients will be on the basis of the written instructions received.

USEFUL LINKS

The Bar Council’s website

The Bar Council’s explanation of what barristers do

The Bar Council’s Public Access website

The Bar Council’s Public Access Directory

The Bar Standards Board’s Barristers’ Register

The Bar Standards Board’s Public Access Guidance for Lay Clients

The Bar Standards Board’s Rules relating to public access

Chambers Guiding Principles

  • to aim for the best result for you
  • to approach your case with determination to win
  • to have the resolve to succeed
  • to work together as a team
  • to keep our fees highly competitive

For information on Fees refer our Terms of Business

Please visit our specialist sections for more information.

Regulated by the Bar Standards Board

For a Free no obligation assessment of your case call 01768 486 508 or  apply online and we will call you within 24 hours.