Pump Court

Direct Access

We are delighted that we are now able to offer our services, in appropriate cases, directly to the public.

The most common form of directly instructing a barrister is through the Direct Access scheme, which allows members of the public to instruct barristers directly, without the need to use both a barrister and a solicitor.

This has a number of advantages to the client, including the fact the barrister will be advising from the outset, instead of at a later stage of proceedings, and going straight to the barrister will mean there is often a significant cost saving.

Early & Consistent Advice

Direct Access allows the client to meet the barrister at an early stage and for them to work together in making important decisions relating to strategy and tactics that may influence how a case will finally be determined.

The client will receive advice directly from the barrister regarding the nature and seriousness of the case and the strength of the evidence. This early engagement allows important decisions, which may have far-reaching consequences, to be taken together including, for instance, how to approach any interview or questioning by a regulatory body.

The client has the added benefit of knowing from the outset who his barrister will be and the barrister will be able to agree a strategy with the client at the start and to follow this through. The fact the barrister is consistent means the client will not have to repeat any instructions or deal with different solicitors or case handlers within a firm.

Cost Saving

Furthermore, because there is only one barrister involved, instead of both a solicitor and a barrister, there is a consequent and significant cost saving for the client.

For further information about direct instructions please email clerks John Grimmer or Paul Rodgers, alternatively you can call them on +44 (0)20 7440 8888. They will be able to discuss the facts of your case with you, which barrister is best suited to your case and explain what fees may be charged and when.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1 – Is my case suitable for Direct Access?

Most areas of law are now suitable for Direct Access. Members of Chambers currently undertake Direct Access work in all of Chambers’ practice areas, although whether a case is suitable for Direct Access will ultimately depend upon the facts of the case.

If you are unsure whether you wish to instruct a barrister through Direct Access or through a solicitor, the clerking team are happy to discuss the various alternatives and to advise you of the best option in each individual case. Our barristers will also assess the case and advise whether it is in the client’s best interest to use a solicitor or to use the Direct Access scheme.

It may be that your case is not suitable for the direct instruction of a barrister, or that it becomes necessary to instruct a solicitor at a particular point. Should the instruction of a solicitor become necessary then, together with our clerks, you can identify and instruct a specialist firm, whilst retaining your barrister of choice.

2 – What about legal aid?

As barristers, we are not able to accept legal aid work through the Direct Access scheme. If you have legal aid in place with a solicitor, we are still able to be instructed in your case, but it will be through a solicitor, instead of directly to the barrister.

If your case qualifies for legal aid, but for various reasons you make an informed choice that you wish to pay for the barrister of your choice under Direct Access, we are still able to accept the case as long as the case itself is suitable for a barrister alone.

If you do not qualify for legal aid because the case does not meet the ‘Interests of Justice’ test or because your income fails the means test, and you are unable to afford to instruct both a solicitor and a barrister on a private basis, then Direct Access may be perfectly suited to your case as it will save you cost and still entitle you to quality representation.

3 – What will I get for my money?

2 Bedford Row is consistently ranked within ‘Band 1’ in Chambers guides and is widely regarded as a leading set in its areas of practice.

In providing a Direct Access service, we understand that you will wish to get straightforward and practical advice at an early stage and members of Chambers are happy to write formal advices as well as communicating in an informal way throughout proceedings.

We accept Direct Access instructions to appear in various courts and tribunals. Our barristers often represent Direct Access clients in hearings or trials at first instance, but we also commonly accept instructions to advise on appeals where a client wishes to obtain a second opinion, having previously been represented by other lawyers.

Our Chambers model is designed to provide Direct Access clients with an easily accessible service, as we appreciate that you may need to speak to someone about your case, even if the barrister is engaged in court. Our clerks are in Chambers from 08:00 – 19:00 if an urgent issue arises.

4 – What will I have to do?

Historically, a barristers role is to represent the client at a hearing and to advise upon the best way forward, whilst the solicitor’s role is to manage the case and take instructions from the client.

In Direct Access cases, there are still some services a barrister cannot provide (e.g. sending correspondence to the other party). In those instances, the barrister is able to advise the client on what to do, but the client will often have to send the paperwork off, even if the barrister has prepared it.

If you are unable to correspond and to conduct the litigation, the barrister may have to explore other options, which may include instructing a solicitor to do this on your behalf. We have established links to top firms of solicitors and the clerking team will, if necessary, be able to refer you to a solicitor who will be ideally suited to your case.

5 – Can anyone use the Direct Access scheme?

Anyone can instruct a barrister under the Direct Access scheme.

Members of 2 Bedford Row have accepted instructions to act on behalf of individuals, companies and other legal entities, both to appear in court and to advise them directly.

The clerking team are happy to answer any questions you may have about how to instruct members of Chambers.

6 – What paperwork do you require?

To help the barrister to give you the best advice for the least cost, we advise clients to prepare a bundle of documents to send to Chambers. This should include all paperwork you have been sent in relation to the case (e.g. letters from the other side and any evidence). The bundle should also include any documents you may wish to use as part of your case (e.g. any evidence you have gathered).

As the case progresses, because it is a Direct Access case, you may receive further paperwork directly from the court or the other party. However, the court or the other party will not send a duplicate to your barrister, so you will need to keep a copy of anything you receive and send a duplicate to Chambers to ensure your barrister has all of the paperwork.

As well as sending all of the relevant paperwork to the barrister, the following important pieces of information may serve as a useful guide to what your barrister will need to know at the outset:

  • The nature of the case you are involved in and what you require from the barrister.
  • What stage the case is at (e.g. is it already in court or is it still at a pre-court stage).
  • Any charges (if criminal) or any heads of claim (if civil).
  • Who else is involved (e.g. who the other side is and whether there are any important witnesses or third parties)
  • A chronology of important events.
  • Any relevant deadlines (e.g. has the court set directions at a previous hearing and are there any documents that need to be served before the hearing).

7 – What are the terms of business?

At the outset of the case, you will need to provide a summary of the case and what it involves.

If the case is suitable for Direct Access, the barrister will send you a letter of instruction to sign and return. This will contain the terms of business, the services you and the barrister have agreed she/he will provide and the fee structure.

As the Direct Access scheme is flexible, the service you require and the fee structure can be tailored to suit the case and is something that can be discussed with the clerks and the barrister.

8 – I only have a question, can I just ask for advice?

It may be that you wish to seek the advice of a barrister on a particular issue and, depending on that advice, you may not wish to pursue a case.

For this type of work, going straight to the barrister is an ideal scenario, as you will want the expert opinion quickly, without going through the formal process of formally instructing solicitors.

If this is the case, the process for instructing a barrister directly to provide this advice is easy and simple. You will need to provide the documents you want the barrister to advise upon and agree a fee work that work, which will be laid out in a letter of instruction as described above.

The nature of Direct Access means that if, after receiving the advice, you decide that you need a barrister to represent you at court or to provide further advice, you can simply go back to the same barrister and renegotiate a fee for the further work that is required.

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