What is a Direct Access Barrister?
A Direct Access Barrister enables those who have the time, and who feel able, to conduct litigation themselves, and to have complete control of their case, without being reliant on or having to pay for a solicitor. You can feel secure in the knowledge that you will have access to a specialist barrister and advocate to guide you through the process and to represent you in the event that the case comes to court.
Using the Direct Access Scheme you can instruct a barrister directly to advise and/or represent you at any stage of your case, including before any proceedings have been issued. You do not need to instruct a solicitor as well if you do not wish to. If instructed by the Direct Access scheme, a barrister can:
- Provide legal advice and opinions
- Draft legal documents
- Assist you to draft letters and other documents during the case
- Represent you in court
You will be responsible for organising the case documents, writing letters and carrying out other tasks that a solicitor would otherwise ordinarily do.
In the event that your chosen Direct Access Barrister thinks that your case needs the additional assistance of a solicitor they will be able to advise you about that.
Why choose Direct Access
Whilst traditionally barristers were instructed by solicitors to represent and advise clients, that has no longer been the only option for some time. Paying for two different types of lawyer to act for you in the same case can be expensive, particularly if an individual feels able to deal with the litigation on their own, but needs representation at court hearings or for complex drafting or legal advice. Many people feel unable to conduct court hearings themselves effectively, because of the highly specialist legal and advocacy skills required. Many people also feel that whilst they can manage much of the litigation themselves, they still need or would benefit from the advice of a specialist direct access lawyer on points of law and procedure.
If you feel able to conduct much of the work required on your case yourself (that would otherwise be done by a solicitor), for example collating documents, filling out forms, and even drafting letters or statements but still want the help and assistance of a specialist lawyer, choosing a Direct Access Barrister might be a good option for you.
You will be reducing your costs whilst increasing your personal control of the case. You will completely control the cost of your case because our barristers only work on fixed fees, paid in advance.
Visit our case studies page for some examples of how our barristers have assisted clients on a direct access basis.
How we calculate costs for direct access scheme work
1KBW are specialist family law barristers. We have a wide range of barristers qualified to undertake direct access scheme work, from junior barristers to senior Chambers Barristers and Kings Counsel. The fee you will pay depends on the seniority of barrister for your case and what your needs are. Our fees at 1KBW are flexible and transparent. We are unable to give guidelines to costs for different types of hearings and advice but the more information that we have about a matter, the easier it is to provide an accurate estimate. In direct access cases we ask for instructions to be made available, in writing or at a short initial consultation, so that we can estimate and agree fees before any chargeable work is undertaken. The fixed agreed fee we offer is usually worked out on the basis of an hourly rate of the preparation time and the hearing and/or other work required. Fees will exclude VAT (where applicable) but the VAT element will be clearly shown in the client care letter. Fees must be agreed in advance and paid for before a Direct Access Barrister will undertake the work.
Please note that prices depend on a variety of factors including the type of hearing, the type of work and also the amount of paperwork involved.
If you would like to discuss your requirements with one of 1KBW’s Direct Access barristers then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our clerking team who will be more than happy to assist with any questions you may have.
How direct access works
Step 1 – Get in touch
When you first contact us, you will be asked if you know which Direct Access Barrister you would like to instruct. If you do not know, then we will assist you to find a barrister with the right expertise and experience for your case and for your budget.
Before you first visit us at 1KBW, we will ask you to fill out a short and simple questionnaire providing your contact details and some basic information about your case and what it is you require your barrister to do. The questionnaire can be completed online in advance if you wish. This will quickly enable us to formulate with you the most effective way of approaching your case and how to get the most from your barrister.
Step 2 – Come to meet us
Each one of our Direct Access Barristers may do things slightly differently, but it is likely you will be asked to come to meet the barrister for a short initial consultation. It is unlikely you will be charged for that meeting. It enables your barrister to find out more about your case and discuss with you the best options for working with you.
It may be that after the initial meeting, the barrister’s opinion will be that your case is not suitable for Direct Access, and we may suggest that you contact a solicitor before instructing a barrister. If you wish, we will be happy to help you choose the right solicitor for your case and for your budget.
Step 3 – Agreeing our terms
Once we have sufficient information with which to assess your case, we will contact you to provide a fee quotation, agree a turnaround time for any written work, and to confirm that barristers’ availability to attend any court hearing or meeting. Please note that we may be unable to take on your case. If so, we will inform you promptly.
The fees will be set out clearly in our client care letter and are payable in advance by bank transfer or by way of cheque or debit/credit card telephone payment. After the work is completed we will send you a receipt with our VAT number.
Step 4 – Working with us
Our Direct Access Barristers are friendly and approachable people. We hope to work with you efficiently and professionally. It is imperative that you trust your barrister.
All of our barristers will do their best to manage your case and respond to you promptly. It is likely that in order to keep your costs down, your barrister will suggest the best form of communication and the appropriate level of communication between you. You will be responsible for the day-to-day management of your case, not the barrister, so it is unlikely that a high level of communication will be required.
Barristers are specialist court advocates, which means that much of their day is spent in court or away from chambers. As a result, most barristers will prefer to communicate with you by email rather than over the telephone. It is also easier for both you and the barrister to keep a clear record of your communications with each other.
For more information about Direct Access:
The Bar Standards Board publishes up to date guidance for lay clients on their website.
There are many people who feel able to conduct a lot of litigation themselves, for example collating documents, filling out forms, and even drafting letters or statements. However, many people feel unable to conduct court hearings themselves effectively because of the highly specialist legal and advocacy skills required. Also, many people feel that whilst they can manage much of the litigation themselves they still need the advice of a specialist lawyer on complex points of law and procedure.
Direct Access enables those who feel able to manage the litigation to have complete control of their case, without being reliant on a solicitor and without having to pay for a solicitor. You can feel secure in the knowledge that you will have access to a specialist lawyer and advocate to guide you through the process and to represent you in the event that the case comes to court.
Ultimately, this will save you time and money. You will be responsible for organising the case documents and writing letters and carrying out other tasks that a solicitor would ordinarily do. You will be reducing your costs whilst increasing your personal control of the case. You will completely control the cost of your case because our barristers only work on fixed fees which will be paid in advance.
In England and Wales, there are two primary types of lawyer, namely barristers and solicitors. Neither of them ‘outrank’ the other. They just have different skillsets and different expertise in certain aspects of litigation. Most barristers and solicitors have a chosen specialism and the barristers at 1KBW specialise in family law.
Solicitors tend to work for firms or in partnerships, and are hugely experienced in the running of litigation. This generally means giving legal advice, drafting applications, witness statements and other legal documents and engaging in correspondence during any litigation.
Barristers tend to be self-employed individuals, albeit they often group together with other barristers of a similar specialism, pooling their resources to occupy the same building (“chambers”) and to pay administrative staff and so on. 1KBW is the name of this chambers which houses over 60 barristers.
Unlike solicitors, who generally run litigation on the day-to-day basis, barristers are usually brought in to offer specialist legal advice or drafting – and in particular to be the advocate in court. It is this courtroom advocacy for which barristers are so highly regarded.
When a case has to go to court and will be heard by a judge, many solicitors choose to ‘instruct’ a barrister. This means that they choose to work in partnership with a barrister for that that case, with the solicitor running the litigation and the barrister responsible for the advocacy in court, as well as providing specialist legal advice in the case. The client pays the solicitor for their services and also will need to pay the barrister for the additional expertise that they will provide.
Barristers instructed on a direct access basis are instructed not by a solicitor, but by the lay client directly, if they feel able to conduct the day-to-day running of the case without a solicitor.
The three areas of family law which are most appropriate for direct access instructions are finance cases, private law children cases and injunction cases, in particular because legal aid is no longer available for most people in those types of case. As a specialist family law chambers, 1KBW houses some of the most experienced practitioners in the country in these areas of law.
In finance cases, our Direct Access Barristers can assist in cases involving:
- Sharing the family finances after, or during, a divorce
- Payments of monthly maintenance for spouses or children
- Payments of school fees
- Drafting of pre-nuptial agreements
- Disputes between unmarried couples as to ownership of property
- Financial provision for the children of unmarried couples who have separated
- Variation of maintenance payments
- Disputes surrounding the divorce itself
In children cases, our Direct Access Barristers can in assist in cases involving:
- Disputes as to where children should live, and with whom
- Disputes about how often a child should see each parent
- Applications to move abroad with a child
- Applications to relocate to another part of the country with a child
- Applications to prevent certain travel abroad
- Disputes over a child’s schooling, name, upbringing, religion and medical procedures
In injunction cases, our Direct Access Barristers can in assist in cases involving:
- Applications to prevent violent or threatening behaviour
- Applications to prevent the visiting of a certain location
- Applications to prevent someone from living in a particular property
- Applications to regulate the shared use of a property
Financial Disputes arising out of Divorce where the parties have joint assets worth less than £300,000
A Direct Access Scheme Barrister can advise you if you and your former partner cannot agree on financial matters during, or after, a divorce. For example, you may not be able to agree on how assets should be divided, whether to sell your home or other assets, maintenance payments, or pension sharing.
If you cannot agree, you can apply to a court for a financial order. You may need to attend a number of court hearings – our Direct access Barristers can represent you in these hearings.
Timescales for your case may vary depending on factors such as barristers’ availability, the value and complexity of your assets, whether you have children, how much you have already agreed with your former partner, and their approach.
Written advice on your financial dispute will be available within one to four weeks where possible. As a guide, court hearings for a financial order tend to take six to twelve months. This does not include possible appeals.
We may charge fixed fees, which means that we will charge you a set amount of money for the work. Below we provide estimates based on the ranges of fixed fees for barristers where the parties have joint assets which are worth less than £300,000. All fees quoted will be a net figure and will exclude VAT. If we charge fixed fees, these may be towards the higher end of the range if you need a more experienced barrister. If you have a particularly complex case, your fees may also be higher than the estimates below. There are also may be additional costs for travel expenses and photocopying.
Silk 2009Call 1984
Head of Chambers James Roberts KC MCIArb
Silk 2019Call 1993
Head of Chambers Frank Feehan KC
Silk 2010Call 1988
Alexander Chandler KC FCIArb
Silk 2022Call 1995
Nicholas Anderson MCIArb