Traditionally, barristers could only be instructed by a solicitor. Historically, solicitors would prepare a case (called litigation), and barristers would appear in court and conduct the advocacy on behalf of the client. However, in the same ways that solicitors can now qualify to conduct advocacy in all courts, a public access barrister (also known as direct access) has gained an additional qualification that enables them to take instructions directly from clients without the need for a solicitor to become involved.
One of the significant differences between a solicitor and barrister is that solicitors are employed by firms, whereas barristers are self employed. This means that a public access barrister may have lower overheads than a solicitor, and accordingly may offer competitive fees for the same high standard of service.
In the same way as a solicitor would have to inform you about the expected cost of preparing your case and representing you, a direct access barrister would also have to give you clear information about the professional fees for your case.
Many public access barristers work out of chambers. This simply means they have office facilities in a shared building, and they share administrative support in order to manage their overheads. This can be a significant advantage to a client, as they will always be able to contact the barrister’s clerk if they need an update about their case, even if the barrister is not free to talk because they are in court. Again, this is something that a direct access barrister will explain clearly at the start of your case, so you know the best way to contact them.
If you are interested in speaking to a public access barrister who specialises in criminal law, contact us. We can discuss your case, and give you initial guidance about whether a public access barrister would be appropriate for you.