WHAT IS PUBLIC ACCESS?
Public Access allows you to instruct a barrister to represent you and to act on your behalf in a legal dispute, or to provide legal advice directly to you. The details below include some information about the types of legal problems you can go direct to a barrister to resolve as well as what we can do for you. If you would rather speak to someone then just ring your local office of St John’s Buildings and ask to speak to someone about Public Access. Alternatively, please fill out our Public access form giving basic details of your case, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ll be in touch within 24 hours (Monday to Friday).
The Public Access Rules came into force in July 2004 and you are now able, in many circumstances, to instruct a barrister directly to advise you and represent you in your legal matters. Public Access accredited barristers still receive instructions from solicitors’ firms and are also able to assist you in deciding whether or not your case requires a solicitor. They can give you this advice at no cost and can even assist you in arranging a first meeting with a solicitor who is appropriate for your case.
Where your case does not require a solicitor, a public access barrister will be able to represent you directly, including drafting legal documents, court forms and letters and representing you in court. Where your case does require a solicitor your public access barrister has the unique market knowledge that can assist you in finding the right solicitor at an expense that is appropriate for you and your case.
WHAT TYPE OF WORK CAN PUBLIC ACCESS BARRISTERS CARRY OUT?
St John’s Buildings have Public Access Barristers who are able to receive instructions in the following areas of law:
- Criminal Law (where it is privately paid)
- Regulatory Law
- Professional Discipline matters
- Road Traffic Offences
- Police Discipline
- Courts Martial
- Family Law
- Matrimonial Law
St John’s Buildings also has two trained and accredited commercial mediators and two trained and accredited family mediators, to assist you where mediation or other forms of ADR are the most appropriate way for your case to be dealt with.
- Employment Law
- Commercial Law
- Chancery Law
- Personal Injury Law
- Public and Administrative Law including Judicial Review
- Property and Planning Law
- Contractual Law
- Intellectual Property disputes
HOW DOES THE PROCESS WORK?
The process is made as simple and straight forward for you as possible.
The public access flow chart:-
Identify the area of law that your case falls under using the areas of expertise explanations on our website
Identify whether your case is suitable for public access using our website or by speaking to our clerking team
Call your local office [see contact details] and ask to speak to a ‘public access clerk’ in the specific area of law or email email@example.com asking for a call back
Receive a call back within 7 days to confirm whether the case is suitable and to agree the cost of having a barrister manage your case and what work s/he will undertake
Send in your documents and have them considered by a barrister free of charge
Provide basic information over the telephone and receive an indication as to whether your case sounds like one that is suitable for public access
Pay the fee in advance and receive a written confirmation of instruction and client care documents
Follow the agreed work plan for your case
If your case requires more or less work than anticipated you will be told immediately. You will be told the cost. You will have the power to decide whether that work should happen before any work takes place.
If your case is not suitable for a public access barrister we will tell you free of charge and explain why. If you need an expert solicitor to assist you we will help you contact a solicitor to receive advice and support.
WHAT WILL IT COST?
The cost of a public access case will depend on a number of factors. They include:
- The volume of documents
- The tasks you need your barrister to carry out (for example, it will cost more if the barrister assists you in drafting statements, court forms and sifting evidence than it would if they are simply advising on the hearing)
- The length of the hearing
- Seniority of barrister
- Location of the case
- Complexity of the case
- The time it takes to prepare
- Any novel points of law or additional research
We will always provide you with a clear pricing structure for handling your case and we will return your documents to you free of charge if you decide you don’t want to use our services having provided that pricing to you. You will be asked to pay in advance. This means you will never be charged for work that you have not already agreed one of our barristers should carry out.
If your case requires any additional work we will contact you in advance, explain why the additional work is necessary and take your clear instructions on whether you want us to carry out the work or not. Again, we will ask for payment in advance of carrying out additional work. You will never get an unexpected bill.
Our barristers are able to work on both a fixed fee or an hourly rate. Although it is more normal to agree a fixed fee for specific, identified work, this will be discussed with you in advance to reach a suitable agreement as to what is most appropriate in your specific circumstances. The agreement will be stated in a written contract. We do not accept payment by Credit or Debit Card. The most common payment method is BACS transfer directly into your barrister’s professional account. We are also accustomed to receiving cheques for payment.
Our public access barristers cost anywhere between £150 and £750 per hour, depending on seniority and experience. Please discuss the pricing of our barristers with our expert clerking team. Where a fixed fee is agreed it will be based on the clerk’s expert knowledge as to how long any individual case is likely to require. Fees will not normally include VAT, but that will be made clear to you both in advance and in the written agreement. There will be no hidden additional costs.
Any additional costs will be set out in an agreement and included in advance. The most likely additional costs are:-
- Reasonable travel expenses where a hearing or meeting is in a court that is more than 50 miles from one of our Chambers. This will charged at the rate of a standard fare rail ticket or 45p per mile if driving.
- You may also have Court Fees to pay. A list of Court Fees can be found here:- https://www.gov.uk/court-fees-what-they-are
- You may have to instruct an expert. Fees for experts vary dramatically depending on the expertise that is required (Surveyor, Planner, Medical Expert, Building Expert, Financial Expert etc) and the type of report (for example, a typical private medical report may cost approximately £750, but where that report is from a renowned expert in a very specific area of medical expertise it can cost several thousand pounds). Your barrister will be able to better advise you on this based on your case and the need for any such report.
Specific details of how we calculate fees in areas of Public Access work including:-
- Financial disputes arising out of divorce
- Inheritance Act Claims
- Personal Injury
- Licensing applications
- Summary Only Motoring Offences
Can be found here Transparency Agenda – Public Access fees document.
WHAT LEGAL SERVICES CAN A PUBLIC ACCESS BARRISTER PROVIDE?
Advisory work – advice on your case, prospects of success and what steps you need to take.
Drafting – a barrister can draft legal documents, court forms, orders, letters, contracts.
Correspondence – barristers can now correspond with the other side on your behalf or assist in drafting correspondence that you send yourself.
Negotiation on your behalf
Representation – barristers can still represent you as they would if they were instructed by a solicitor
Advice – most importantly, barristers from St Johns Buildings are able to advise you whether your case is appropriate for public access or whether it would be more appropriate to instruct a solicitor. Where it is more appropriate to instruct a solicitor they can help you (at no cost) find a solicitor that is appropriate for you.
If you would like to speak to someone about instructing a barrister from St Johns Buildings directly you can either call your local Chambers and speak to a public access clerk who will help you with your initial enquiry, or you can complete our Public access form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
You will not be charged anything by St John’s Buildings unless you have agreed the charge and the work that it will apply to. And, if your case is not suitable for public access, we will tell you free of charge and will help you find a suitable expert solicitor if one is required.
You can view our entire team of Public Access Accredited Barristers by clicking here.
The Bar Council explanation of what barristers do:
The Bar Council’s Public Access website
The Bar Council’s Public Access Directory:
The Bar Standards Board’s Public Access Guidance:
The Bar Standards Board’s Rules relating to public access: