It is now possible to seek expert legal advice and representation directly from certain barristers without going through a solicitor or licensed intermediary. In suitable cases, public access can offer several benefits for members of the public, professionals and companies.
At Cornerstone Barristers, we have members qualified to undertake public access work across all of our key practice areas, including planning, property and licensing law. A list of those members, with links to their profiles, can be found below.
Why use public access?
Public access can offer several advantages including:
- Precise legal fees: our clerks can advise you on fee levels including one-off fees for individual pieces of work and bespoke arrangements for work over a protracted period of time;
- Access to expert practical advice from the outset: our barristers not only provide legal advice, but also strategic guidance before any legal issues arise;
- Continuity of approach: using the same expert legal representative for both advice and representation can mean a quicker and more efficient process should your case go before a court or tribunal.
Barristers are not able to undertake any publicly funded (“legal aid”) work under the Public Access Scheme. They cannot carry out any means test for you either. To check if you are eligible for legal aid, you can complete the Legal Aid Eligibility Calculator (https://www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid).
If you are eligible for legal aid but prefer to instruct a barrister directly, you can do so on a privately funded basis. Please contact us to discuss your requirements and we will explain the implications of instructing a barrister privately and the likely costs you will incur.
Our barristers can assist with:
- Advice on a legal problem or strategic issue
- The drafting of formal documents
- Correspondence with an opposing party
- Advocacy and representation in courts and tribunals
Please note that not all cases are suitable for public access and we will advise when it is in your best interest to instruct a solicitor.
If you are interested in instructing our barristers through public access, please email our clerks (email@example.com) who are well placed to offer guidance and advice on how public access works and whether it is appropriate for your case.
When contacting the clerks, you will need to set out in writing the most important facts about your case and the key events leading up to the present, and send some of the relevant papers and details of any relevant deadlines or hearing dates. The clerks will then discuss your case with a suitable barrister and contact you with a suggested course of action, including details of fees and response times.
Our fees will be set out clearly so you can make an informed decision on how you want to proceed. Every matter is different and what you will need to pay will depend on a number of factors including the complexity and urgency of the matter, the type of hearing, the volume of papers and the seniority and experience of the barrister you instruct. You can be reassured that we will be open and transparent about our fees and we may be able to offer you special packaged deals in some circumstances.
Fees must be agreed and paid in advance before the barrister can start work on your case.
“Their work on our case was of the highest standard. They are friendly, unflappable and professional. The clerks at Chambers are admirably patient and approachable with laypeople, and give a level of service that a blue-chip client would expect. I would not hesitate to highly recommend Cornerstone’s direct access scheme to anyone seeking representation”. – Public Access Client.
Once the barrister and fees are agreed, our clerks will send you a contract letter which sets out all the terms and conditions between you and the barrister. You will also need to provide the following before we can confirm the barrister’s instruction:
• Proof of identification (such as a passport or driving licence)
• Proof of address (such as a utility bill or bank statement)
• Payment of the agreed amount.
• Contractual letter signed and returned
If you require any clarification of this procedure then our clerks will be happy to provide you with guidance.
We also accept Licensed Access instructions from certain organisations and individuals. View our terms and conditions for further information. To find out whether you are part of an organisation with authorisation to instruct barristers directly (for example MRTPI, RIBA or RICS), or for information on how to obtain a licence to instruct a barrister, please visit the Bar Standards Board website or contact The Bar Council.
Everyone I have been in contact with has been expert, helpful and friendly and has made the process very easy.Chambers UK Bar (2022)