FOURTEEN has a team of Public Access barristers who are qualified to accept instructions directly from members of the public.
What is a barrister?
Barristers are specialists in advocacy, legal advice and negotiation. They are trained in how to present and argue cases in court. A barrister builds up their experience throughout their career doing just that. They are also experts in analysing the strength of a case, giving advice and drafting documents. A barrister is best placed to advise you on the strength of your case.
Don’t I need a solicitor?
You used to have to instruct a solicitor first so that they could instruct a barrister – but not any more. In the past, solicitors would instruct a barrister for you to advise on your case and to represent you in court. The solicitor would focus on litigation, writing letters and filing documents. Subject to certain conditions, members of the public can now go directly to a barrister without having to involve a solicitor.
What can a barrister do for me?
If you become involved in a court case, our public access barristers can draft documents for the court on your behalf and represent you at hearings. You may not yet be involved in a court case but just want to get some advice on how things might work out or what your rights are – we can help you with this too. Our public access barristers are often instructed just to give a ‘second opinion’ and can advise you in writing, over the telephone, at a face-to-face meeting in person or via Skype.
What can’t a barrister do for me?
Barristers cannot conduct litigation in the same way as solicitors, for example issuing proceedings at court, unless they have obtained permission to do so. Ask your barrister if you think this will be important and he or she will tell you if they can conduct litigation. If the barrister cannot conduct litigation you will be able to carry out certain tasks such as issuing proceedings at court yourself.
Isn’t it more expensive to instruct a barrister?
There are a number of variables that will affect how much it will cost to instruct a barrister to represent you. These include: the amount of paperwork to read; the complexity of the issues in your case; what you would like your barrister to do for you; the location of the hearing, if you are in proceedings; and, if you would like your barrister to represent you at a hearing, what that hearing is listed for and how long it is due to last. The clerks at Fourteen will be able to help you in getting a clearer idea of costs once we know what you would like us to do for you.
Can I instruct a barrister directly even if I qualify for legal aid?
Yes, but you will need to consider whether it is more cost effective to apply for legal aid.
Why should I choose FOURTEEN?
We are specialist family lawyers with a national reputation for the work that we do but at the same time we pride ourselves on offering a personalised, friendly service to our clients. Our public access barristers have expert knowledge across all areas of family law, whether your case is about your separation from your partner or involves a dispute over children, finances or a vulnerable adult in your family who might not have the capacity to make decisions for themselves.
Where can I find out more about Public Access?
The Bar Standards Board publishes online the Public Access Scheme Guidance for Barristers which will help you decide if you should instruct a barrister directly. The address is here.