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Public Access

Public Access (also known as 'Direct Access') means that members of the public may now seek the services of a barrister directly without first having to go through a solicitor. This effectively means you can enlist the expertise of one our barristers directly to help you and avoid having to pay the additional costs involved with a solicitor.
We conduct all our Public Access work under the guidance of the Bar Standards Board. If you would like to read more about this, and to read further guidance on Public Access, you can follow the link here: Public Access Guidance for Lay Clients

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the difference between a solicitor and a barrister?

The basic difference is that a barrister represents people in court and a solicitor mainly performs legal work outside court. There are exceptions in both cases however. Barristers can also usually be distinguished from a solicitor because they work at a higher levels of court than solicitors, their main role being to act as advocates in legal hearings where they will stand in court and plead their client's case in front of the judge.

Barristers have specialist knowledge of the law and are often called upon to give expert legal advice. More information can be obtained from the Legal Choices Website.

2. What benefit is there in instructing a barrister directly?

The most obvious benefit is a financial one. If you instruct a barrister directly you will be only committing to one set of legal fees as opposed to two when going via a firm of solicitors. Barristers are also experts in their specialised area of law so you will also benefit from some direct, expert advice.

3. Can I instruct a barrister and claim legal aid?

Currently, publicly funded support via The Legal Aid scheme is not available for public access work. If you do feel that you would be eligible for Legal Aid, contact our Chambers Management team on 01604 636271 or email clerks@northampton-chambers.co.uk where you will be offered some advice and referred to a local solicitor who can help you.

If you are not eligible for Legal Aid, you will be quoted a fee for instructing the barrister, which is based on his or her experience and the level of work (and time) involved in the case. We require the fee to be paid, cleared funds, 48 hours before the court appearance.

4. Which barrister should I choose?

There are several factors to consider in selecting which barrister you wish to help you. Our barristers, like all professionals, vary in their experience, qualifications, reputation and cost. Equally, you need to find one that specialises in the area that you need help with. You can search their profiles and find one you're interested in by clicking here. Alternatively you can call the Chambers Management team on 01604 636271 where you will be offered some assistance in finding the most appropriate counsel. Remember that the barristers are listed in order of their seniority, which usually means they can command higher fees.

Not all barristers are registered to accept public access work so again, the Chambers Management team can guide you with who would be the best choice for you to instruct.

5a. How do I instruct a barrister?

You can call one of the clerking team on 01604 636271 or click on the email link under your preferred choice of barrister with your request. The clerks will then take your details and a brief outline of the case. We will then set up an initial meeting with you and the barrister, usually in Chambers, to go through the case and formalise the next steps where the barrister will guide you on how to proceed. It is at this point you can discuss your needs and obtain a quotation from one of our clerks

It is highly advisable to arrange a meeting with your barrister as early as possible before the court date to allow time for any additional paperwork to be prepared or other unforeseen events to be accounted for before going to court, so you and the barrister are as well equipped as possible.

5b. Fees Explained

In privately funded matters Northampton Chambers works using two basic charging models, typically a fixed-fee model is used for court hearings and an hourly-rate model for non-court related advice. Both models are broadly the same whereby the client is charged directly by their instructed solicitor or by Counsel through the Public Access scheme. Whilst we use these two models, all private fees are subject to the factors below:-

  • Seniority and expertise of Counsel
  • Complexity of case
  • Urgency of the work required
  • Location of hearing

See this link for more information on our fee structure: Further Fee Information

All fees are estimates only, and for a full quotation please contact the clerking team on 01604636271 or by e-mail at: clerks@northampton-chambers.co.uk

5c. Timescales

All cases are dependent on varying timescales and these will be dependent on the type of work required and the specific nature of the case, and will be agreed at the time of instruction. Factors that might affect timescales are:-

  • Seniority and expertise of Counsel
  • Complexity of case
  • Urgency of the work required
  • Location of hearing
  • Diary commitments of Counsel

6. What happens in court?

Your barrister will fully appraise you of what to expect before you arrive in court. If you have never been inside a courtroom before, they are very busy and formal places with a great many traditions and rituals to adhere to, so smart dress is advisable. Your barrister will direct proceedings on your behalf and if at any time you wish to say something, you should do so via them as opposed to speaking directly to anyone else. Generally speaking, the main part of your involvement is ensuring that the barrister is fully aware of everything prior to going to court. Once the court is in session, your barrister will direct things on your behalf.
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