By a Member of the Public (only possible for barristers registered for “Public Access” work)

Public Access

Members of the public, and commercial and non-commercial organisations, are able to instruct registered barristers directly on most matters.  Barristers become involved where expert legal advice is needed, or where documents need to be drafted, or written or oral advocacy is required.  However, barristers cannot yet offer some of the services provided by solicitors.

Before accepting direct instructions from members of the public barristers are required to have been in practice for three years, to have received special training and be registered as such with the Bar Council.

Barristers instructed by way of public access may, for example:

  • give you legal advice;
  • draft documents for you, such as a will or contract;
  • advise you on the formal steps which need to be taken in proceedings before a court or other organisation and draft formal documents for use in those proceedings;
  • draft a letter for you to send to another person or correspond with such a person on your behalf where appropriate to do so;
  • if a witness statement from you is required in proceedings, prepare that statement from what you tell him or her.  A barrister may also help to prepare witness statements from another person based on the information which that person has provided;
  • where a case requires an expert witness (for example, a surveyor), advise you on the choice of a suitable expert and draft a letter of instruction which you can then send to the expert on your own notepaper.

However, barristers instructed by way of public access are not permitted to:

  • issue proceedings on your behalf or issue other applications or take other formal steps in court or other proceedings;
  • investigate or collect evidence for use in proceedings.  This means that, for example, a barrister is not allowed to contact possible witnesses to investigate what evidence they may be able to give;
  • instruct an expert witness on your behalf;
  • take responsibility for the handling of a client's affairs, or take responsibility for the general management of a client's case, or handle client money (other than their own fees).

Only some Chancery barristers are registered to undertake public access work.

General information about direct access, together with Guidance on how to instruct a barrister under that system and the full list of barristers registered for public access work, is available from the Bar Council website.