FOURTEEN has a team of Public Access barristers who are qualified to accept instructions directly from members of the public. We also offer an additional e-bundling service to clients to assist with preparation for hearings
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 always used to have to instruct a solicitor first so that they could then instruct a barrister on your behalf – but that is not always necessary anymore. 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 (called direct access or public access) without having to involve a solicitor. If our public access barristers think you would be better served by dealing first with a solicitor, we will tell you so.
What can a barrister do for me?
Our barristers can provide you with advice and legal representation in court and can draft legal documents for you, in any aspect of family law.
If you become involved in a court case, our public access barristers can represent you in hearings at every stage of the process and in any court in the country. This includes drafting relevant documents for the court on your behalf.
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 also often instructed just to give a ‘second opinion’ and can advise you in writing, over the telephone or at a face-to-face meeting in person or by video conference using easily available and familiar platforms such as Zoom, Teams and Skype.
Our public access barristers are also expert in drafting other legal documents for clients such as prenuptial and separation agreements.
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 are specifically qualified to do so. Your barrister will tell you if they can conduct litigation and what are the implications if they cannot. If the barrister cannot conduct litigation, you will be able to carry out yourself certain tasks such as issuing proceedings at court and serving documents on other parties; your barrister will discuss this further with you.
How much will it cost me to instruct a barrister?
Our Practice Managers (our barristers’ clerks) take an open and transparent approach to negotiating our barristers’ fees with our clients and welcome discussion about the terms on a case-by-case basis in advance of any work being undertaken. In any fee estimate, we will always give you the most accurate figures possible and clear information on the total amount of fees you should expect to be charged. The most commonly used pricing models for privately funded legal services, including Public Access/Direct Access cases, are:
- An hourly rate;
- A fixed fee; or
- An agreed brief fee and refreshers.
The model that is used and the rates set will depend upon a number of factors including the type of service provided, the nature, complexity and financial value of the matter and the preparation time required as well as the experience of the barrister needed for the case.
Fees for drafting paperwork and advice and for conferences will usually be charged at an hourly rate determined by the factors mentioned. Our typical fees can range from £100 per hour for a more junior barrister up to £600 per hour for a more senior barrister in a complex matter. If an hourly rate is quoted then we will give you an estimate of the expected number of hours that will be required, having first reviewed any available papers. If at any stage it looks like this estimate may be exceeded, we will contact you as soon as possible and before carrying out the further work, explaining why the estimate has changed.
If a fixed fee for the barrister’s services is agreed rather than an hourly rate, the fee will again depend on the factors mentioned above. When a fixed fee is estimated, we would not exceed that amount unless the circumstances had changed. This could be, for example, because more documents been provided for the barrister to review, your instructions have changed in some way or it has been identified that other legal assistance is required. In any event, we would contact you to explain the circumstances and any likely additional fees before any further work is undertaken and costs incurred.
Hearing fees are usually based on a brief fee and refreshers. The brief fee is a fixed fee which usually covers the preparatory work for the hearing together with the first day of the hearing. A refresher is a fixed daily fee charged for any subsequent day of the hearing. Both the brief fee and the rate for refreshers will be agreed in advance of the hearing. As the nature and complexity of legal cases can vary very substantially, the amount of the brief fee will vary from case to case. Our practice managers will discuss this with you from the outset when providing you with the fee quotation.
Chambers’ routine administrative and stationery costs involved in your case are usually included in the barrister’s fees. Should exceptional services be required, such as couriers, then the charge, at cost, may be passed to the client. Clients may also be charged for their barrister’s exceptional travel and accommodation costs. In all such circumstances, clients will be informed in advance of the likely cost.
Public Access clients should be aware that they may also have to pay an additional fee if their case goes to a court or tribunal. This is separate from the legal fees charged by the barrister and is paid to HM Courts and Tribunals Service. Further information can be found on the Government website here.
All fees are subject to VAT (if applicable) at the current rate.
What might the costs be if I have a financial dispute arising from divorce and the joint assets are worth less than £300,000?
If you are looking to instruct one of our barristers through the Public Access scheme to provide you with advice and/or representation in relation to financial disputes arising out of your divorce or pending divorce (such as how assets should be divided, whether to sell the matrimonial home or other assets, maintenance payments and pension sharing) and if you and your former partner have joint assets worth less than £300,000, the table below gives cost estimates based on the ranges of fixed fees charged by FOURTEEN’s barristers in such cases, rather than charging fees based on an hourly rate.
(Please contact our practice managers if you and your former partner have joint assets which are worth more than £300,000 and we will be happy to discuss your case and the likely fees further.)
If we charge fixed fees, these may be towards the higher end of the range if you need a more experienced barrister, and, if you have a particularly complex case, your fees may be higher than the estimates below. There may also be additional, exceptional costs for travel, accommodation or couriers depending upon the requirements of your case.
Stage of case Range of fixed fees
Written advice on your financial dispute £1,500 to £2,000
Advice given in conference £1,500 to £2,000
First directions appointment £2,000 to £3,000
(the first court hearing, exchanging financial information)
Financial dispute resolution hearing £3,000 – £4,000
(the second court hearing, where parties try to reach a financial settlement)
One-day Final hearing £4,500 – £6,000
(if the case did not conclude at the financial dispute resolution hearing)
If your case goes to a final hearing and the time estimate for the hearing exceeds one day, then fees will be discussed and agreed with you in advance of any further work being undertaken.
The information above is correct as of November 2021, and the fees shown are for guidance only. They also exclude VAT, which may be applicable. For a fee quotation specific to your circumstances, please phone our direct access practice managers on 020 7242 0858 or e-mail email@example.com.
What are the likely timescales and process?
If you think that one of FOURTEEN’s public access barristers could help with your case, the first thing for you to do is to contact us by phone on 020 7242 0858, by email, or by completing our online enquiry form.
If you contact us by phone or email, we will then ask you, after an initial discussion, to complete our online enquiry form so that we can be sure we have all the relevant details. If you are unable to complete the form online, we will send you a printed copy for you to complete and return by post.
Once we have received your form, we will reply to you within two working days and, if appropriate, arrange a date and time for a free initial 15 to 30 minute consultation with one of our barristers.
If the barrister agrees that Public Access is appropriate for your case, following the initial consultation we will contact you again to discuss fees (see “How much will it cost me to instruct a barrister?”, above) and a likely timescale for the delivery of the services.
We will then send you a contract for you to sign and return and arrange with you to make (depending on the nature of the services to be provided) the initial or full payment for the work.
The barrister will then start work on preparing your advice or representation.
This first part of the process can be achieved quickly and we can almost always respond to urgent requirements by accelerating the process if necessary.
There are several factors which might influence the preparation and delivery of the services themselves. These can include: the type of service (for example, legal advice or representation in a hearing); the complexity of the matter; your availability and the availability of the barrister and any other relevant parties; the volume of documents to review; the need for any additional information or documents; court waiting times; and the urgency of the matter.
Relatively straightforward legal advice might be provided in a couple of days; complex court cases, with preliminary hearings, can take months. Your barrister and our practice managers will let you know the estimated timescales at every stage of your case.
In general, the barristers at FOURTEEN aim to turn around paperwork within 14 days unless agreed otherwise. Should the barrister not be able to meet the agreed timeline for any reason, we will inform the client as soon as possible. In such an instance, if necessary and should the client agree, the work could be transferred to alternative and equally experienced counsel to ensure the timeline can be met.
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 and appropriate for you to apply for legal aid. If you apply for and are granted legal aid, you cannot instruct a barrister directly through this public access scheme; you will have to instruct a solicitor. If you are eligible for legal aid but choose nevertheless to instruct a barrister directly through the public access scheme, you will have to pay for your legal representation. If you wish, we will discuss your options with you in more detail.
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.
Upon receipt of your enquiry our practice managers will contact you to discuss how we can help, the process involved, the timescales and key stages and indicative costs based on the information provided. (Please see the other sections above.)
We also now offer an additional service whereby we will assist by providing an e-bundle for hearings (so all the case papers are collated electronically rather than printed on paper), which is particularly important where the hearing is to be a ‘remote’ hearing, conducted by telephone or video link.
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.