If you are a member of the public, a community organisation or a business wishing to obtain advice or representation from a barrister directly, rather than through a solicitor or other intermediary professional, 1MCB Chambers may be able to assist you via the direct public access scheme.
A number of our barristers are qualified to advise and represent through the scheme, across a wide range of Chambers’ practice areas.
Enquiries about direct public access should be made by contacting the clerks, who will be able to advise on a suitable representative.
If you still have questions after reading this page you can read further information about how the Public Access scheme works here or you can contact the clerks for advice.
What is the direct public access scheme?
The barrister will still carry out all the work that he or she would usually do. This depends very much on the nature of your case, but this will often include advising as to the merits of your case, suggesting what evidence you might consider obtaining to strengthen your case, drafting court documents and representing you in Court or before a tribunal.
Under the direct public access scheme, you take responsibility for the preparatory work that a solicitor would traditionally do, such as gathering evidence, issuing court documents and corresponding directly with the other side. If you need assistance with this preparatory work then the direct access scheme is probably not appropriate for you and you would be better to instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf who will then instruct a barrister as needed.
For further information about the direct public access scheme, have a look at the Bar Standards Board’s Guidance for Lay Clients.
What are the advantages of the direct public access scheme?
As there is no intermediary solicitor, you get a direct line of communication with your barrister. In most cases, instructing a barrister under the direct public access scheme will also save you money as you will be engaging one lawyer, rather than two, and you will be doing yourself many of the straightforward tasks that a solicitor would normally charge for, such as writing letters or filling out forms.
Does a barrister need special training to do direct public access work?
Yes. Before a barrister can accept direct public access work, they must have done a direct public access training course approved by the BSB, and notified the BSB that they have done this. You can check whether a barrister is direct public access registered by looking on the Barristers’ Register on the BSB’s website.
How much will it cost?
Cost will depend on three key factors: the amount of work that needs doing on your case, the complexity of the issues in your case, the likely length of the hearing and the level of experience of the barrister that you choose. Our clerking team will be happy to discuss with you the cost of a particular piece of work.
We generally charge an hourly rate depending upon the complexity of the matter and the experience of the barrister instructed. Hourly rates vary from £200 to £500 per hour (plus VAT where applicable; you can request our VAT number if required). In the very unusual and specialist circumstances that the rate is higher than this, this will be clearly communicated to you in advance.
To give you a further idea, hearings might be short with the intention of making sure your case is organised or progressing as it should be. For example, you can expect hearings such as case management or directions hearings to generally be shorter and require perhaps 1-2 hours preparation and attendance at court. Final or substantive hearings can vary in length. What you instruct us for and at what stage your case is at will determine how many hearings there are likely to be and the length of the overall process. There are no standard timescales: it will depend on your case. However we can advise you more about timescale once we have assessed your case.
A direct access barrister can advise you on putting an application in to regularise your immigration status, help you appeal a negative decision by the Secretary of State or represent you in a hearing; immigration and asylum final cases typically last between an hour and a day. Employment hearings can last several days, depending on the issues. Financial remedy hearings in family cases usually require multiple hearings and the process is explained here.
There may be additional costs such as application and court fees. Where photocopying of more than 100 pages is needed, you will be charged at 4p per page.
We ask that you complete our Direct Access enquiry form so that we can find a suitable barrister and give you more information about the estimated work and fees involved. Once instructions are accepted then you will be given a letter setting out the estimated work involved, the relevant fees, and anticipated timescales of any key stages of work. All fees quoted will have VAT added to them where applicable.
Fees are normally payable in advance.
Can I get Legal Aid?
Barristers cannot take on direct public access work under Legal Aid (public funding).
To check your financial eligibility for Legal Aid, you can use the calculator on the Ministry of Justice’s website. Where the merits test is satisfied, you may be able to get legal advice and representation for free or by making contributions, usually monthly. If you are eligible for Legal Aid, you should think carefully before instructing a barrister privately through the direct public access scheme.
However, we recognise that more and more types of case are being excluded from the scope of Legal Aid funding, and that it is therefore becoming increasingly difficult for many people to secure access to justice. In suitable cases, direct public access offers a cost-effective way of securing advice and representation.
Whether or not you qualify for public funding, 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.
You may not wish to investigate whether you qualify for public funding, or if you qualify for legal aid you may still prefer to instruct a direct public access barrister. If so, the barrister should ensure you fully understand that you will not have legal aid for your case, and the likely costs to you of not accessing public funds. It is likely that the barrister will ask you to confirm in writing that you fully understand the consequences of your decision. For example, the client care letter might contain a paragraph stating that you have made an “informed decision” not to use legal aid.
Are all cases suitable for direct public access?
Not all cases are suitable for direct public access and after reviewing your case, a barrister might advise you that it is in your best interests to instruct a solicitor. This might be, for example, if you are likely to be entitled to legal aid, or because the case is very complex, raises issues of a particularly emotional nature or because of the amount of litigation that is likely to be required.
Barristers are required to adhere strictly to the Bar Standards Board Handbook, which at the moment prohibits them from doing tasks that would be classed as ‘litigation’. These prohibited tasks include issuing documents at court, contacting witnesses, collecting evidence, instructing expert witnesses, and corresponding directly with the other side. We can, however, advise you as to how to do these things yourself, or recommend other professionals who can help you with them.
Some areas of law tend to involve more ‘litigation’ than others, meaning that some types of case lend themselves better than others to the direct public access scheme. Areas of law which, in our experience, can be well suited to direct public access include crime (including motoring), regulatory matters, commercial and contractual disputes, employment and discrimination, family, immigration, and property litigation.
If, on reviewing your case, a barrister forms the view that it would be in your best interests to instruct a solicitor, he or she will no longer be able to act for you, other than on the instruction of a solicitor. If this happens, however, the barrister will be happy to suggest to you solicitors specialising in the relevant area of law.
These organisations might also be able to assist you:
- Advice UK: a network of advice centres across the country.
- Advocate: 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. Advice Line: 03444 111 444 (England); 03444 77 20 20 (Wales).
- 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 (those representing themselves in court). Telephone: 020 7073 4760.
How do I choose a barrister?
1MCB barristers accredited to accept instructions on a direct public access basis are listed below. Clicking on any of the names in the list will take you to that barrister’s individual profile, which will include information about that particular barrister’s experience and areas of expertise.
Our clerking team is always happy to be approached for guidance in selecting the most suitable barrister.
Does a barrister have to accept direct public access work?
A barrister may choose whether or not to accept a case that is suitable for direct public access. However, a barrister may not refuse to accept instructions:
- On the grounds of race, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, citizenship, sex, gender re-assignment, sexual orientation, marital or civil partnership status, disability, age, religion or belief or pregnancy and maternity;
- On the grounds that they (or others) do not like the nature of the case; or
- On the grounds that your conduct, opinions or beliefs are unacceptable to them (or others).
- If the barrister decides to accept your instructions, you will be sent a client care letter that describes the work to be undertaken, sets out the terms and conditions, states how much the work will cost and how to complain if something goes wrong.
- Throughout the case, the barrister remains under a duty to consider whether a case remains suitable for Public Access. They must refuse to continue to act as a Public Access barrister if it is no longer suitable for them to do so.
How do I instruct a barrister at 1MCB Chambers?
If, having read the above you consider direct public access to be the right choice for you then please complete our enquiry form. This will enable us to find a barrister who will be able to assist you.
Upon receiving your enquiry, we would usually expect to be able come back to you within a week, confirming whether or not we are able to assist.
At this first meeting you must bring with you the following ID:
- your current passport or other national identity card or a new form of driving licence (with a photograph); and
- a recent utility bill, bank or building society statement clearly showing your address.
The fees due for this initial conference will be clearly outlined to you in advance of the meeting and you will be asked to settle payment by card upon arrival.
What to expect after you have instructed a barrister
You will most likely have an initial conference meeting with your barrister. During this meeting any key dates will be discussed in relation to your particular case. There will be, for example, key time limits in relation to making any legal claims being considered through the courts. In some cases, this initial advice can instead be given in a telephone or Skype/Zoom conference, or by email.
Every case is different and so it is not possible to explain exactly what will happen. The clerks may be able to provide you with specific information. However, we will always be able to advise you about the procedure and process involved in different kinds of cases, including giving you an idea of the key stages and an estimate of cost.
At the first meeting or telephone conference you can expect to receive a client care letter which outlines some initial advice about how to contact your barrister, what the next steps are, information about data protection, the complaints procedure (which you can find under the About Us – Information for Clients tab) and how to give feedback.