Public Access

Strong advocacy for our clients

Fourteen -Public Access

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.

Why instruct a barrister rather than a solicitor?

In the past, you had to instruct a solicitor first and then they could instruct a barrister on your behalf for specialist advice or skills. It’s now possible for members of the public to contact barristers directly, without going to a solicitor first. This is known as the public/direct access scheme.

A barrister’s training means that they are best placed to advise you on the strength of your case; are experienced at how to present and argue your case in court; and have a depth of knowledge on running alternative ways to resolving disputes and coming to an agreement.

As such, if you do not need the traditional tasks that a solicitor would undertake (writing letters, filing documents and managing the litigation process) or you feel comfortable undertaking these yourself, with help and guidance, then taking a direct route to a barrister may be suitable for you. If our public access barristers think you would be better served by dealing with a solicitor first, we will let you know.

What can a barrister do for me?

Our barristers will provide you with legal 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 would like to get some advice on how things might work or what your rights are – we’re here to help you with this. Our public access barristers are also often instructed just to give a ‘second opinion’ and can advise you in writing, over the telephone, at a face-to-face meeting or by video conference. They can also help you with non-court-based dispute resolution, such as mediation, arbitration, private FDRs or Early Neutral Evaluations.

Our public access barristers are also experts in drafting other legal documents for clients such as prenuptial and separation agreements.

What type of help can FOURTEEN provide?

FOURTEEN is a specialist family law chambers and our barristers have excellent in-depth knowledge of all areas of family law. This includes but is not limited to:

Children matters – including grandparents rights, child arrangements and contact, child abduction, care proceedings and fact finding hearings.

Adoption – rights, contact and financial arrangements.

Financial matters – including relating to children (under Schedule 1 Children Act 1989 and the MCA 1973) and child maintenance, separation and divorce, international finances and offshore assets.

International – child abduction, international child arrangements, international financial arrangements, international enforcement of orders.

Domestic abuse – including physical, emotional, controlling or financial/ PD12J/ Domestic Abuse Act 2021.

Vulnerable clients – including stranded spouses and financial abuse and participation directions.

What can’t a barrister do for me?

Barristers cannot (without the correct qualifications and training) issue proceedings at court, serve documents on the other parties or manage some of the other litigation processes and procedures.  You will, however, be able to carry out these tasks yourself; your barrister will be able discuss this further with you.

How much will it cost me to instruct a barrister?

Our Practice Managers/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/Direct Access cases, are:

  • An hourly rate.
  • A fixed fee.
  • 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 £650 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, stationery and travel costs involved in your case are typically subsumed into 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                               £100 to £650

Advice given in conference                                                            £100 to £650

First directions appointment                                                        £2,000 to £3,500

(the first court hearing, exchanging financial information)

Financial dispute resolution hearing                                        £3,000 to £6,000

(the second court hearing, where parties try to reach a financial settlement)

One-day Final hearing                                                                      £4,500 to £6,500

(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 2024, 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

What are the likely timescales and process?

If you think that one of FOURTEEN’s public access barristers could help with your case, please tell us a little more by completing our online enquiry form. Or please do contact us by phone on 020 7242 0858 or by email.

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. Following the initial consultation we will contact you again to discuss the fees for the work involved and a likely timescale for the delivery of these 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 do our best to 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 several 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 you as soon as possible.  In such an instance, if necessary and with your expressed permission, the work could be transferred to alternative but equally experienced counsel to ensure that the timeline can be met.

Can I claim 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, being ranked in both Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500 guides. We particularly 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. Please do look across our website and at our individual barrister profiles to see the feedback we receive from our clients.

Upon receipt of your enquiry our practice managers/clerks 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.

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.

I’m interested in instructing a barrister at FOURTEEN directly – what do I do next?

If you are interested in learning whether a public access barrister can help with your case, please contact us by telephone on 020 7242 0858, email or by completing our online enquiry form.

Public Access Barristers