Members of the public, commercial and non-commercial organisations are now able to instruct barristers directly on most matters.
What are the advantages of instructing a barrister rather than a solicitor?
The short answer is: expertise and efficiency. We are at the forefront of the litigation exercise. Law, procedure, tactical considerations and instinct are second nature: we are tasked with presenting the case if and when it comes before a Court and know how best to prepare it in order to succeed.
There is likely to be efficiency savings too. Barristers’ hourly rates are generally less than a solicitor of comparable experience. This is because barristers are independent and don’t have the same level of overheads as a solicitors’ firm.
Often when you instruct a solicitor on a particular matter you enter an open-ended retainer. The solicitor will do all the work that is necessary on the case and charge accordingly, usually on a time basis. Under the public access scheme you can instruct a barrister to act in relation to a specified step in the process – for example to advise in conference or represent you at a hearing. You pay a fee only for the work requested and agreed between you and the barrister’s clerk, in advance.
A further advantage is speed. If you need an opinion urgently it can be quicker to go directly to a barrister than through a Solicitor.