Direct Access

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which barrister is right for my case?

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.

If for any reason you are dissatisfied with the services of a barrister you are entitled to make a complaint to the General Council of the Bar, 289-293 High Holborn, London, WC1V7HZ.

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Is my case suitable for Direct Access?

Most areas of law are now suitable for Direct Access. We offer Direct Access in all of our practice areas.

Should you wish to meet your barrister and discuss the matter further, then the clerking team are happy to facilitate this.

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What will I get for my money?

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.

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What work is a barrister prohibited from doing under Direct Access?

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:

  • Engage in correspondence on a client’s behalf.
  • To take responsibility for the general management of a client’s case.
  • Hold his client’s money. This means he cannot make or arrange payment of court fees, expert’s fees or witnesses’ expenses.
  • Issue proceedings, file documents at court or serve documents on other parties.
  • Investigate a case or collect evidence.

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.

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What are the advantages of instructing a barrister over 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.

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Who can instruct a barrister under the Direct Access scheme?

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.

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What should I put in my Instructions to Counsel?

There are two key components of instructions to Counsel: a Letter of Instruction and a Bundle of Documents.

Letter of Instruction

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:

  • Who you are and who you act for.
  • Who your dispute or potential dispute is with and the nature of it (eg ‘claim for unfair dismissal brought by former employee’ or ‘dispute over rights of access to delivery yard’).
  • A brief background. The best way to explain a problem is usually to set out the relevant events in chronological order. There is no need to go in to detail if the facts can be ascertained from the accompanying documents. It is important however to include anything that will not be apparent from the documentation. This might include conversations you have had with other people or things you have witnessed.
  • Any relevant deadlines (eg a hearing date, a time limit for serving evidence or accepting an offer).
  • What you want the barrister to do (eg ‘to represent the respondent at the trial listed for…’ or ‘to advise on the following points…’).

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.

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Bundle of documents

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.

  • The documents must be accompanied by a typed List of Documents on which the name or description of each document is set out. The List of Documents may form part of your Letter of Instruction or it may be a separate schedule. For your protection your barrister is obliged to keep a copy of this list for seven years.
  • All the documents you send must be copies. Barristers do not have the same facilities for storing files and the Bar Council’s rules on Direct Access do not oblige a barrister to retain documents. Thus for your protection you should keep all originals and only send copies to your barrister. In an exceptional case where it is not possible to provide a copy please contact our clerks who will assist with making arrangements for safe delivery and return.

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.

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Exceptions to Direct Access

There are some limited exemptions to Direct Access work, please contact our clerks for more information.

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Can I email you about my legal issue, to see if it’s a suitable case?

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.

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Direct Access Enquiry Form