Following key changes in the law in 2004, members of the general public seeking legal advice or representation of any kind can now approach a barrister directly, without the need to first engage the services of a solicitor.
This process will inevitably save an individual considerable financial and administrative expense. This process is called “Direct Access” or “Public Access” and reflects the future of the British Legal system.
Direct Access has been introduced to allow an individual in immediate need of legal expertise the opportunity to approach a specialist advocate, in cost effective circumstances. For further information on the range of professional services available under the direct access scheme please refer to the Bar Council’s website, which provides comprehensive information in this regard.
Direct Access is regarded by 1 Gray’s Inn Square as the silent revolution in law and has created an opportunity for individuals and companies alike to secure first class comprehensive representation at significant financial saving. As such 1 Gray’s Inn Square are rightly regarded as pioneers in this growth industry and take pride in our reputation for excellence and commitment to client care and first class results.
Members of Chambers regularly undertake instructions under Direct Access in all of our practice areas.
A number of factors will decide upon which barrister is right for your particular case. It is important that the right barrister is selected for both your peace of mind and your means. You may already know the barrister you want to instruct, in which case our clerks will accommodate your request. If you don’t then you may well use some of the following factors to help with your decision, cost, experience, reputation, qualification and your own protection.
Cost – In the current climate, costs are a large part of the decision making process. At 1 Grays Inn Square we aim to minimise your legal costs whilst providing you with a first class barrister and clerking team. As you instruct a barrister direct there is a saving since you are only paying one lawyer instead of two. Barristers’ rates are also generally lower since their overheads are much smaller than that of a solicitors practice.
Experience – In order to undertake Direct Access work a barrister must have been in practice for at least three years and have completed a recognised Direct Access training course. The barristers‘ who undertake Direct Access work at 1 Grays Inn Square have done so since its inception and most if not all have in excess of 5 years call. The barristers within chambers specialise in many different areas of the law. A barrister is bound by a code of conduct to only accept instructions / cases in which he or she has such experience and is competent to act. Our clerking team will ensure the right case is assigned to the right barrister.
Reputation – 1 Grays Inn Square is one of the leading and best established common law sets of barristers. We are the oldest set within Grays Inn, close to Chancery Lane underground and in the heart of London’s legal centre.
Qualification – In order to practice as a barrister you must have obtained a qualifying law degree or its equivalent, pass the Bar Vocational Course, be called to the Bar by one of the four Inn of Court. You must then successfully complete a one-year training period known as a ‘pupillage‘. Once completed, pupils are then invited to join a set of chambers as a tenant. Only once having completed three years and having completed the required accredited course are barristers‘ allowed to undertake Direct Access work. A practising barrister has higher rights of audience entitling him or her to appear on behalf of a client in all courts, tribunals within the jurisdiction of England and Wales.
Protection – All practising barristers must have, by law a current practising certificate, issued by the General Council of the Bar for England & Wales which must be renewed annually. Each barrister is obliged to have compulsory indemnity insurance and are subject to the supervisory jurisdiction of the Bar Standards Board.
Most areas of law are now suitable for Direct Access. We offer Direct Access in all of our practice areas.
You receive a personal and easily accessible, professional service where you will be provided with support and guidance in addition to specialist advice. The barrister will represent you in the various courts, tribunals and any other hearings where you are allowed to be represented by someone else.
The barrister’s role is to represent the client(s) at a hearing and to advise upon the best way forward.
The rules on Direct Access mean that a barrister is not allowed to do any of the following:
Some of the steps involved in the process will have to be undertaken by you. Your barrister will of course be able to advise you on the best course to take. Your barrister is under a professional obligation to tell you if he or she thinks that your interests will be best served by instructing a solicitor.
The short answer is it is likely to save you money. Previously clients were not allowed to engage the services of a barrister without first instructing a solicitor. If your case needed a barrister you would have to engage a solicitor thereby paying for two lawyers rather than just one. The Direct Access scheme now permits you to go direct to a barrister.
Further savings can be made by directly instructing a barrister since the overheads incurred by chambers is much less than that of a solicitor. There is likely to be a further saving, too, because barristers‘ hourly rates are generally less than a solicitor of comparable experience.
Her Majesty’s Court Service guideline figures show that it is in excess of 25% cheaper to instruct a barrister within the City of London as opposed to a solicitor. All hourly rates are available from our clerking team and are subject to vat.
Under the Direct Access scheme you can instruct a barrister to act in relation to a specified step in the process. If you need initial advice or an advice in conference, you only pay for the work that the barrister undertakes. You can agree the fee prior to any work being undertaken with our clerking team.
Anyone can instruct a barrister under the Direct Access scheme. Note however that the ‘cab rank’ rule does not apply to Direct Access work and a barrister is not therefore obliged to accept the instruction. We at 1 Grays Inn Square will accept instructions from clients from all spheres including company / commercial clients, government and non-governmental organisations. Matters relating to immigration can now also be accepted. Instructions are also currently accepted from individualsin relation to disciplinary and sports tribunals and Coroner’s Inquests. If you are unsure as to whether your instructions would be accepted please contact our clerks for further advice.
There are two key components of instructions to Counsel: a Letter of Instruction and a Bundle of Documents.
The letter of instruction has two purposes. It sets out the background and it tells your barrister what it is you want him to do. You may include whatever you want to in your letter of instruction, however the following are generally required in every case:
Correspondence with a barrister is traditionally addressed to his or her clerk. You can send your letter of instruction to ‘Clerk to Mr/Mrs/Miss ___’ followed by the chambers address. If you do not know the name of the person you wish to instruct and you want the clerks to help you find an appropriate barrister you can use our direct email service on this website. Simply fill in the appropriate boxes and email the clerking team who will advise you as to the relevant barrister for your area of law / dispute.
Your barrister will need to see relevant documents, be it correspondence, emails, statements, photographs, plans, videos, etc. The best guide as to what to include is common sense. The following points however are important and apply in every case.
You do not incur any liability for fees simply by sending a letter of instruction. The clerks will pass your case to a Direct Access barrister who specialises in the relevant area of practice. He will review the papers to ensure the case is suitable for a Direct Access instruction. The clerks will contact you to agree a fee for the work you want your barrister to do. You will only incur liability for any fees when you have approved, signed and returned our standard client care letter.
In a limited number of cases the money laundering legislation requires a barrister to perform checks to verify the identity of his client. If this applies the clerks will contact you and inform you of the appropriate requirements.
There are some limited exemptions to Direct Access work, please contact our clerks for more information.
Yes, complete the enquiry form below. When the form is received by Chambers it will be reviewed by our clerks who will consider, often in conjunction with barristers, whether or not we are able to assist you under the Direct Access Scheme. Your form submission will be treated confidentially and completing the form does not commit you to do anything.