Public access

If you would like to directly instruct one of Garden Court North Chambers’ barristers through Public Access, you should first read the information provided on this page (which explains what public access is) and then complete the enquiry form at the bottom of the page.

How do I instruct a barrister?

The usual route to a barrister is through a solicitor and, if you have one, you should discuss with your solicitor whether it is important to have a barrister’s involvement in your case. Should you wish to instruct a barrister from Chambers your solicitor can contact our Practice Management Team and make the necessary arrangements.

Whilst all the barristers at Chambers accept instructions from solicitors, it is now possible, in certain circumstances, for those barristers who have received the appropriate training to accept instructions directly from members of the public. This is known as Public Access.

What does a barrister do?

A barrister (sometimes called counsel) is a type of lawyer who gives specialist legal advice, drafts important legal documents, and represents people in court. The main other type of lawyer is a solicitor. Solicitors undertake the general aspects of giving legal advice and conducting legal proceedings. Although solicitors represent people in court, they often tend to instruct barristers to provide such representation. They also tend to instruct barristers to provide specialist legal advice and to draft important legal documents.

All of the Barristers at Garden Court North Chambers are self-employed, working independently from one another and are not responsible for one another’s work.

How does public access differ from instructing a solicitor?

The barrister’s role remains essentially the same as when they are approached by a solicitor or another intermediary. Barristers can advise you on your legal status or rights. Barristers can draft and send documents for you and can represent you in court, tribunal or mediations. They can also negotiate on your behalf and can attend interviews and hearings where appropriate.

Incidences where a member of the public may be able to instruct a barrister using Public Access include where:

  • You need legal advice and analysis;
  • You are engaged in a course of correspondence;
  • You want work carried out before litigation starts;
  • You wish to negotiate with the other side;
  • You wish to appeal;
  • You are engaged in a hearing before a tribunal;
  • You wish to avoid litigation altogether;
  • You wish to engage in mediation;
  • There will be a trial without many, or any, issues of fact;
  • The case involves points of law rather than fact; or
  • The case is not contentious at all, but requires advice or drafting of a letter or document.

What are the advantages of public access?

Public Access enables you to deal directly with a barrister, who is a specialist in the area concerning your case. This can often be cost-effective, as in many cases the only lawyer you will pay for is the barrister you instruct. Although, you should bear in mind that in some cases a barrister may also recommend a solicitor to you for some stages of a Public Access case, such as issuing and serving claims, instructing experts, handling money or interviewing witnesses.

What is Chambers’ public access policy?

The Public Access barristers in Chambers  accept instructions from the public on terms that are strictly compliant with the latest version of the Bar Standards Board Handbook. Barristers who may accept instructions from the public may be found at the Bar Council Direct Access Portal.

Under the rules, barristers are not usually allowed to ‘litigate’ unless they have applied for and been granted an extension to their practising certificate that allows them to litigate. This means that, in most cases, barristers are only entitled to advise you and represent you in court and are not allowed, for example, to file documents at court or to exchange letters with the other side in the case. Because of these limitations you may be advised that your case is not suitable for Public Access. For further information please see the Public Access Scheme Guidance for Lay Clients, especially paragraphs 4 to 8 (under the heading “Is my case suitable for public access?”).

If your case is accepted under Public Access you are likely to need to issue proceedings, file documents at court and serve documents on other parties yourself.

Please note that the ‘Cab Rank Rule’ which requires barristers to accept instructions in certain circumstances does not apply to Public Access work. Public access barristers are not required to accept instructions from a member of the public in any circumstances and may refuse to accept your case.

What will the cost be?

Subject to the type of work the Barrister is being asked to undertake, the fees can be quoted at a fixed fee or at hourly rates. Where applicable VAT will be charged on all fees.

When quoting fees for Public Access work the following factors will be taken into account:

  • Area of law
  • Estimated time required for preparation;
  • Estimated time to be spent in Court;
  • Case complexity;
  • The amount/issues at stake;
  • The seniority of the Barrister;
  • The degree to which specialist knowledge is required; and
  • Travelling/expenses likely to be incurred

When a Barrister accepts instructions in a Public Access case, they will provide you with a Client Care letter which includes information confirming the terms upon which the services of the Barrister are engaged; a description of the work to be undertaken, the fee for the work and the payment method. In some circumstances, a Barrister may offer you an initial meeting to discuss your case for a fixed fee. In ongoing cases, you will be provided with additional Client Care letters at each stage of the case which set out the additional costs for the further work.

Once the fees have been agreed, the fees are payable before the Barrister can begin work on your case. This includes ongoing matters.

Chambers’ flexible approach to fees means that you will be continuously and fully informed at each stage of the case as to what the costs of the Barrister’s fees will be. Should you wish to discuss any element of the fees quoted we invite you to contact a member of the Practice Management Team who will be happy to help you.

It is important to note that Barristers can only accept legal aid work when instructed by a Solicitor and therefore can not accept legal aid work under the (Direct) Public Access Scheme. It is important that you make an informed decision about whether to apply for legal aid. You can find out more information on the gov.uk website at https://www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid

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.More information can be found on the Legal Choices website at: https://www.legalchoices.org.uk/legal-choices/money-talks/after-the-event-insurance/

Next steps

After you have filled out the Public Access enquiry form below, our Practice Management Team will endeavor to allocate your case to a Public Access barrister. If you have asked for a specific barrister, that person will first be asked to consider taking on your case. If he or she is unable to take the case for whatever reason, the Practice Management Team will ask if any other appropriately qualified barrister is available, unless you tell them not to. You will normally be told within two clear working days of making your enquiry if someone is available to take your case. For example, if you enquire on a Monday at any time before 5pm, you will normally be told by the end of business on Wednesday of the same week whether a barrister is available; if you enquire on a Friday, you will be told before the end of the next Tuesday, etc.

You may be asked for further details about your case or further documents. If your case is complex or if there is delay in obtaining the further information from you, then allocation may take longer than two days. Please do not contact Chambers while you are awaiting a response unless you are asked to provide further details as repeated enquiries about your case may delay allocation.

If you choose to instruct a barrister that is available, you will be sent a Client Care Letter that sets out the problem you have described, what you have asked for, the steps the barrister will agree to take, precisely what work will be done, the time it will take and any notable deadlines, and what fee the barrister will charge you for that work.

Please read the Client Care Letter carefully. You must sign and date one copy of the Client Care Letter and send it back to us, along with payment in the full amount as set out in the Client Care Letter. The barrister cannot begin work on your case until you do this. All work that the barrister agrees to perform must be paid for in advance. The Client Care Letter is a contract between you and the barrister for the work described in it. Any further work will require a new Client Care Letter and further payment.

The Client Care Letter will contain advice on the next steps in your case. The barrister may ask you to make an appointment for a conference by contacting the Practice Management Team. Or, if there is no need for a conference, the barrister may ask you to send in your case papers by post or as scanned attachments to an email (but not by fax). Please note that a reasonable charge for printing will be included if you expect us to print your case papers.

You may need to gather certain documents or information, or to contact people for other evidence. Also, you may need to send certain documents to the court, or to the other side in the case. The Client Care Letter will explain what you need to do.The Client Care Letter will also explain what the barrister will do after you have returned your signed copy and made payment.

Remember that the barrister cannot begin work on your case until you return the Client Care Letter with the agreed payment.

How do I know if a barrister accepts public access instructions?

If you would like to know which of our barristers are trained to accept public access please visit our barristers page and look for the public access symbol, which can be found in the top right-hand corner of the barrister’s phtograph.

If you are unsure about whether or not you can instruct a barrister by Public Access or if you require any of the above information in a different format  please contact the Practice Management Team on 0161 817 6377 or at gcn@gcnchambers.co.uk 

What do I do if I am unhappy with the service I receive?

We aim to always provide the highest standard of service in all that we do but if you are dissatisfied with the service you have received, Chambers’ Complaints Procedure can be found here.  You will also be provided with copies of our Complaints Procedure and the Bar Standards Board’s Guidance for Lay Clients with your Client Care letter.

Public access enquiry form

  • Area of law

  • Include date of hearing already listed
  • Please bear in mind that we cannot guarantee that a specific barrister will be able to take a case on.
  • Drop files here or
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