Frequently Asked Questions about Direct Access
(Please note: these FAQs only apply to my work under the direct access scheme. They do not apply to my work as a litigator or to my work for firms of solicitors.)
What does the direct access scheme mean for me?
In very simple terms it means that you can instruct me to be your barrister without the need to instruct a solicitor first. More detailed information can be found on the Bar Council's website.
Will I be covered by your insurance?
Yes. I am regulated by the Bar Standards Board and I am insured by Bar Mutual. My current limit of cover is £1,000,000.
Do you work on a fixed-fee basis?
Yes. In almost all cases I will agree a fixed fee with you in advance so that you know exactly what my services will cost. In a very limited number of cases it will be more appropriate for me to charge an hourly rate, but this will only be agreed with your express permission, and it is extremely unlikely that I would use an hourly rate where I am working for individuals.
What are your fees?
It is difficult for me to give you a comprehensive answer without knowing the specifics of your case. My fees are determined on a case-by-case basis and will depend upon the following:
The complexity of the case
The amount of time required to read the papers and prepare for any hearing/paperwork
The amount of time required to attend at court/complete the paperwork
You can expect that my fee will be slightly higher than I would charge to a solicitor, but lower than the overall combination of solicitor plus barrister. This is because when a solicitor instructs me they have often done the legwork so that I know exactly what the issues are and I have a rough idea of the tactical approach to a case. When I am instructed by a member of the public, however, I have to come to those conclusions myself and so my preparation takes longer as a result.
I am happy to give quotations directly.
Do you charge admin fees?
No, I do not charge admin fees. However, my services are advertised on a number of websites ("portals") where the website makes its money by adding an admin fee to my quoted fee. I have no control over the level of admin fee and I do not receive any part of them. If you go directly to me then I will give you a quote without any additional fees and you will pay only for the work that I do.
Will you work on a no-win-no-fee basis?
No. Although this is a model of funding which works well for many firms of solicitors it is not a model under which I accept instructions. If you are looking for lawyers to act on such a basis then it is likely that you will need to find a firm of solicitors.
Will you be able to work for me throughout my case?
I will try my best to make myself available on every occasion that you need me. However, I cannot guarantee that I will be able to make myself available to represent you throughout your case. This is because I am an independent barrister whose professional rules require me to accept the first instructions offered to me during my normal working hours. We will need to agree to my terms and conditions for each hearing where I represent you, and on a hearing-by-hearing basis.
This is not a disadvantage in itself, though. One of the most useful skills held by barristers is the ability to pick up a case without any prior knowledge and then prepare it fully for the next hearing. If I am unavailable on a given date then I will do my best to recommend a different barrister suitably qualified to take your case forward, and you will not be any worse off than if I had represented you throughout.
Of course, this also gives you the advantage of picking and choosing when you want me to be involved in your case and then only pay me for the hearings when I work for you.