Direct Public Access – Narrowing the Divide

The legal profession has been in existence for hundreds of years and there has traditionally been a clear distinction between the roles of Solicitors and Barristers.  Solicitors would liaise with the lay client and give advice and legal support, ultimately advising on the necessary course of legal action.  Barristers, however, would take their instructions directly from a Solicitor, advising them on specialist legal points, giving opinions as to the lay client’s likelihood of success, and representing the lay client in court.

In recent years, the rules for who can appear in Court have changed dramatically and the traditional division between Solicitors and Barristers has significantly narrowed.  For many years Solicitors have been able to obtain “higher rights”, enabling them to exercise rights of audience in the Crown Court, High Court and Appeal Courts.  The effect of this has been to limit the lay client’s access to a Barrister and the specialist knowledge and skill that they can bring to a case.

Over recent years the role of a Barrister has similarly developed allowing us to provide legal services directly to a lay client through a process called ‘Direct Access’.  Members of the public are now able to instruct Barristers directly without needing to incur the cost and effort of consulting a Solicitor first of all.  The benefits of the Direct Access route are numerous for the lay client and may include significantly reduced costs of bringing or defending a claim, and enhanced expertise from the outset.

A member of the public who instructs a barrister through Direct Access can tailor what work they need doing, but generally speaking your Barrister would be able to:

  • Advise you on your legal status or rights
  • Draft and send documents for you
  • Represent you at Court, Tribunals or Mediation
  • Negotiate on your behalf and attend employment or investigative interviews and hearings where appropriate.

All of our Barristers at 43 Temple Row Chambers provide high quality Direct Access services.  To discuss potential instructions and for a no-obligation fee quotation, please contact our Clerks.

Thomas Wheeler

July 2015