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What is Direct Public Access?

In 2004 the Bar Standards Board set in motion a revolutionary scheme that allows Barristers in England and Wales to receive instructions directly from members of the public and SMEs. Some 17 years later many people are still unaware that a Barrister can now be instructed in place of a solicitor, to engage directly with clients, often at a much lower cost. The purpose of this directory is not to single out any particular legal individual, but to provide members of the public and small/medium size businesses with an introduction to a selection of Public Access Barristers and Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) professionals (Mediators & Arbitrators), that are suitably qualified to deliver this service.

Depending on the service you require, you can access our online directory by clicking on one of the two links above. Selecting ‘Barristers’ will take you to a selection of Public Access qualified Barristers, capable of handling a variety of legal work, each of which have undergone public access training, and will hold a full practising certificate issued by the Bar Standards Board. For legal help that requires the use of either a Mediator or Arbitrator, then by selecting the ‘ADR’ link you will be taken to a directory of qualified professionals who have been appointed to handle this style of work. In many cases Barristers who are qualified for Public Access work are also qualified to handle Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR).

The following answers relate to a number of common questions from people who are considering using Public Access for the first time. The answers have been provided by the Bar Standards Board in a Guidance Handbook which can be downloaded HERE. A more comprehensive list of questions and explanations can be found within the handbook.
SOME OF YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Advantages of the Public Access Scheme
The main advantage of the public access scheme is that it could potentially save you money, since you would be paying for a barrister only, instead of a barrister and a solicitor. However, although the barrister would be able to deal with many aspects of the case, you may have to assist in some areas, including filing documents with the court, unless the barrister is also authorised to conduct litigation on your behalf.
Is my case suitable for Public Access?
Public access is available for all types of work that barristers can do, except for work that is funded by legal aid. Some cases may not be suitable for public access because of their emotional nature, because they are particularly complex or because the type of work that needs to be done in order to prepare the case would be difficult for you and may not be able to be done by a barrister. If you are not sure whether your case would be suitable for public access, you should contact an appropriate barrister or chambers clerk for an initial discussion. If the barrister or chambers considers that your case would benefit from the involvement of a solicitor, they will tell you so.
What if I qualify or may qualify for legal aid?
If you are eligible for public funding (also known as “legal aid”) and wish to take advantage of this funding, a barrister should advise you to approach a solicitor. This is because barristers cannot do legal aid work unless they have been instructed by a solicitor. If you are not sure if you qualify for public funding and you would like to talk to someone in more detail about getting legal aid, you should contact a solicitor who does legal aid work.
Can a Barrister conduct litigation?

Self-employed and employed barristers can apply to the BSB for an extension to their practising certificate, authorising them to conduct litigation. If a barrister is not authorised to conduct litigation, they should not file proceedings on your behalf with the court or file other applications, or take other formal steps in court or other proceedings. (If the barrister has not been authorised to conduct litigation, you will have to send the documents to the court, although the barrister could help prepare them for you.)

Does a Barrister require special training to take Public Access work?
Yes. Before a barrister can accept public access work they must satisfy number of conditions, which includes undertaking a Public Access training course, approved by the Bar Standards Board, holding a full practising certificate, and notifying their regulator (the BSB), that they wish to offer Public Access services.
How will I be charged?
A barrister usually charges according to their level of experience, the complexity of the case and the length of time involved in dealing with it. It is important that the cost to you, and the stage at which the fee is payable, is agreed at the outset, and that the terms of the agreement are clear to both you and the barrister. There are no formal scales of fees for barristers’ work. The amount to be charged for any particular piece of work, and when the fee becomes payable, is a matter for negotiation between you, the barrister and their clerk. All public access barristers are independent self-employed practitioners, competing with each other. If you consider the fee proposed by one barrister to be too high, try another barrister.
What is ADR?
The government wants to encourage the development of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), which refers to ways of resolving disputes between consumers and traders, or between partners in family matters, that don’t involve going to court. Common forms of ADR are Mediation, where an independent third party helps the disputing parties to come to a mutually acceptable outcome, and Arbitration, where an independent third party considers the facts and takes a decision that’s often binding on one or both parties. Many forms of ADR can be tried even if a court case has already started.
Where can I get more information on Public Access
  1. Click HERE to take you to the Bar Standards Board ‘Guidance for Lay Clients’
  2. Click HERE to take you to the Bar Standards Board ‘Barristers Register’
  3. Click HERE to take you to the Bar Council ‘Direct Access Portal’
  4. Click HERE to take you to the Bar Standards Board ‘Using a Barrister’
  5. Click HERE to take you to the Bar Council ‘Public Access’

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