Direct Public Access
How Does It Work at 9 KBW
9 King’s Bench Walk is a forward thinking long established set of barristers offering advocacy and advisory services in the fields of criminal, family, immigration and general civil law.
We aim at all times to:
Provide a high quality, efficient and reliable service to our professional and direct public access clients.
Offer a range of specialist member services in diverse areas of law.
Continually strive to improve the standards of our services.
Seek and listen to the views of our clients.
Show our commitment to equality before the law and access to justice for all.
Members of the public seeking legal advice or representation can either instruct a Solicitor and/or barrister to represent them in legal matters or they can instruct a barrister directly without the need to, first, instruct a solicitor.
Barristers can offer services of advocacy, negotiation and advice. A lay client does not always need to instruct a solicitor in order to obtain access to or advice from a barrister. At 9 KBW we are pleased to be able to offer you the choice of several barristers with wide expertise in the fields of crime, immigration, motoring and licensing law . By instructing one lawyer instead of two you will save time and will usually reduce your costs considerably. Barristers hourly rates are generally much lower than those of a Solicitor
By instructing a barrister directly you will ensure that you are represented by a qualified and experienced lawyer; they must hold a current practicing certificate, extensive insurance and have completed the relevant public access training
Practice Areas The direct access team at 9KBW is a strong one and we are rapidly expanding the areas in which we can offer this service. Currently members accept instructions in matters of;
What a barrister can do on your behalf:
Although these are the main areas in which direct public access work is normally undertaken we are happy to receive enquiries about other areas of law including civil disputes.
There are guidelines published by the Bar Standards Board as to what services it is proper for a barrister to provide once instructed on a direct access basis
Some examples of work which a barrister is allowed to do:
a. A barrister may appear on your behalf at Court.
b. A barrister may give you legal advice.
c. A barrister may draft documents for you,
d. A barrister may advise you on the formal steps which need to be taken in proceedings before a court or other organisation and draft formal documents for use in those proceedings.
e. A barrister may draft and send letters for you on his Chambers’ headed paper.
f. If a witness statement from you is required in proceedings, a barrister may prepare that statement from what you tell him or her. A barrister may also help to prepare witness statements from another person based on the information which that person has provided.
g. Where a case requires an expert witness (for example, a surveyor), a barrister may advise you on the choice of a suitable expert and may draft a letter of instruction which you can then send to the expert as a letter from you on your own notepaper.
What a barrister cannot do on your behalf:
The following are examples of work that a barrister is not allowed to do:
a. A barrister cannot issue proceedings on your behalf or to issue other applications or to take other formal steps in court or other proceedings. You would have to send the documents to the court, although the barrister could help prepare them for you.
b. A barrister is not allowed to instruct an expert witness on your behalf.
c. A barrister is not allowed to take responsibility for the handling of clients’ affairs, or to handle clients’ money.
In each case the barrister must consider whether the case falls within the guidance and is suited to the direct access scheme. Some will not be and you will still require the services of a Solicitor
Any barrister must be certain that in accepting direct instructions the needs of the client and the administration of justice are both being properly served
Initial enquiries should be made to the clerk’s room by e mail or telephone, setting out the brief nature of your case and whether or not you have a hearing date, if your case has reached the stage of court proceedings.
Your enquiry will be referred to a barrister who specialises in the area of law concerned and at that stage you may be asked to supply some or all of the documentation in the case to enable a decision to be reached as to whether your case is suitable for direct access.
Initial instructions to Counsel and documents we may require
We need to know;
Your name and contact details
The nature of the case; e.g charged with a criminal offence, motoring offence, dispute with an ex partner over children or assets, deportation order ( just brief details will suffice)
The background to your claim
The stage you have reached now
Any important dates e.g. a hearing date or any time limit for serving evidence or accepting an offer from another party
What it is you want your barrister to do e.g. advise or attend a hearing.
If you are asked to provide documentation this may include the following;
Two forms of identification showing your current address. These may be in the form of a passport, driving license, utility bill, bank statement or similar. Please do not post originals. Scanned or faxed copies are acceptable
Any relevant correspondence between parties or the court
Any relevant statements, photographs, plans, audio tapes, DVD’s, CCTV, video tapes
Anything else that may have a bearing on your case
In some cases the barrister may suggest that you have a preliminary meeting, in order to explore the situation in greater depth, before deciding whether or not to proceed with the instructions
At that meeting the barrister will also explore with you whether you may be entitled to public funding and will advise you to apply through a solicitor if it seems that you may qualify for funding.
Information about legal aid eligibility
At 9KBW we do undertake Direct Public Access cases in areas of law in which clients may be eligible for legal aid and it may therefore be useful for you to check your eligibility through the link to the legal aid eligibility calculator on the gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid. This will help lay clients to understand whether you may be eligible. Lay clients must however also be aware that barristers cannot do legal aid work unless they have been instructed by a solicitor. Each client will need to make an informed decision about whether to apply for legal aid, or to proceed with Public Access.
If you do not qualify for legal aid, you might like to consider whether you have any insurance policies that might cover your legal fees, or if the fees may be paid by someone else, for example a trade union. Further information on legal insurance can be found on the legal insurance page on the Legal Choices website: https://www.legalchoices.org.uk/legal-choices/money-talks/after-the-event-insurance/.
A barrister can advise and represent you if:
you make an informed decision not to seek public funding;
you make a public funding application, eg you have applied to get legal aid to help fund your case, that is rejected;
you do not wish to take up an offer of public funding (perhaps because you consider that the level of contribution you will be required to make is too much).
Is my case suitable for public access?
In considering whether your case is suitable for Public Access, the barrister is likely to take into account
a. The nature of the work which you wish him or her to undertake
b. Your ability to deal with any aspects of the case which would normally be carried out by a solicitor that cannot be covered by a public access barrister
c. Whether your case is such that (whether because of its complexity, or because of the stage which it has reached) it is not suitable for public access and that a solicitor is required. In this situation, you should be told by the barrister why your case is not suitable and that he or she would be prepared to act for you if instructed by a solicitor. In such circumstances you can ask the barrister to recommend a suitable solicitor to you.
Factors which may affect the timescales of your case.
We will provide timescales for work to be done whenever new or further instructions are received. There are however several factors which may affect those timescales. These include, but are not limited to;
· Your Barristers availability
· Your own availability or relevant third parties
· The complexity of your case
· The amount or complexity of papers that need to be reviewed
· The need for additional information or documents
· Any approach made by the other parties in your case
· Third parties intervening in the case
· Court warned lists or waiting times
· Judicial availability
· Any timescales set by a Court
Fees and payment
Once you and your barrister are satisfied that your case is a suitable one for direct access representation agreement can be reached about the charges which will be made for the work, your instructions will be accepted and a client care letter will be sent to you. The client care letter is a very important document. It contains a description of the work to be undertaken, the basis on which you will be charged for that work, and the other terms of the agreement between you and the barrister.
You can find further information on the level of fees that we use as a guide for lay clients on our website page under Fee Scales i0n the About Us section of our website https://www.9kbw.com/about-us/fee-scales
Chambers uses an escrow service called Transpact.com to manage case funds. This means that payment of the barristers fees, once you have both signed the standard agreement, must be transferred by BACS transfer to the account specified. Transpact will accept most type of card payments also. Fees will be held in this account until the work has been done.
The link to the Public Access Guidance for Lay Clients page on the BSB’s website is https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/regulatory-requirements/bsb-handbook/public-access-guidance-for-lay-clients/.
Information about further sources of support and advice.
Lay clients may also find the following contact details useful
Advice UK: a network of advice centres across the country.
Bar Pro Bono Unit: free advice and representation on legal matters (applications-based). Contact: 020 7092 3960.
Citizens Advice: free, independent and impartial advice on a range of issues and rights.
Law Centres Network: search for local law centres in England.
Law Works: connects people in need of legal advice with lawyers who are able to help for free. Searchable directory of local legal advice clinics in England and Wales.
Personal Support Unit: provides advice, information and support for litigants in person. Telephone: 020 7073 4760.
Samaritans: helpline support for anyone who wants to talk to someone about the problems they are facing in their life. Helpline: 116 123.
The Money Advice Service: free, confidential advice about managing finances and dealing with debts. Advice line: 0800 138 7777.