In certain circumstances, members of the public can now instruct a direct access barrister at 25 Bedford Row to represent you in criminal and regulatory proceedings without first instructing a solicitor. This is called “direct access” or “public access” and is governed by the Bar Standards Board’s Public Access Scheme.

What is the Public Access Scheme?

The Public Access Scheme was set up in 2004 to allow members of the public to work directly with barristers without the need to go through a solicitor. The aim was to help clients save on legal costs by giving them direct access to barristers, avoiding the need to pay a separate set of fees to a solicitor.

Instructing a barrister through the Public Access Scheme can, in some circumstances, result in savings on the cost of the preparation of your case and its passage through court without compromising the standard of service you receive.

A direct access barrister can:

  • Provide legal advice and opinions
  • Represent you in court hearings
  • Negotiate an out-of-court settlement
  • Represent you during mediation or arbitration
  • Draft legal documents
  • Assist you with drafting letters and any other documents required during your case
  • Advise on calling expert witnesses

Our experienced direct access barristers can advise you at every stage and represent you at all hearings up to and including trial and appeal if required. This means that our experienced expert practitioners will look after every aspect of your case from beginning to end.

Our barristers can work with you face-to-face, over the phone, by email and through software such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams for your convenience.

If you would like to discuss instructing one of our qualified direct access barristers in London directly or find out if the Public Access Scheme is appropriate for your case, please contact our Clerks’ Room, who will advise you on the scheme and will recommend a barrister to you.

Direct Access Barristers FAQ

Why should I choose 25 Bedford Row direct access barristers?

Some of our members are trained in public access work and specialise in modern defence advocacy.

We are instructed across all areas of criminal and regulatory law and have the experience and expertise necessary to achieve the best results for our clients.

We are proactive in seeking to achieve positive results at an early stage in an investigation or prosecution, without the need for a trial.

We are sensitive to cost considerations and will provide a service tailored to the needs of each client. With over 75 barristers in our set, we have a broad base of specialist knowledge to be able to give you the most appropriate and effective advice and representation.

25 Bedford Row has been consistently recognised as the leading chambers in our core practice areas, with our barristers being the first set to achieve the quality standards accreditation awards to Barristers Chambers, called the Bar Mark in 1999.

This recognised the consistency and quality of our legal advice and service then and our continued development and commitment to successful relationships with our clients.  

We have been involved in many of the most high-profile criminal trials in recent years, and have received many accolades over the last 10 years including being ranked in the top tiers across our core areas of practice and also being awarded Crime Chambers of the Year award by the Legal 500 and the Client Service Set of the Year by Chambers UK.

Our public access barristers in London regularly work with both UK and international clients. Our dedicated International practitioners have a strong track record of representing clients in international cases.

What is the process for instructing a barrister through direct access?

To instruct one of our barristers through direct access, you simply need to contact our Clerks’ Room. Our experienced clerks will assess whether your case is suitable for public access and advise you on the next steps.

What are the benefits of direct access?

Instructing a barrister through direct access enables clients to access advice and representation without instructing a solicitor, reducing the cost of defending your case.

Is my case suitable for direct access?

Although direct access barristers can work on a broad range of cases, they cannot conduct litigation on your behalf. This means you will need to take care of some of the administration of your case yourself. In some complex cases, or where a client is not confident that they manage the administration of their case, it may be desirable to instruct a solicitor.

Direct Access is not available for legal aid clients. Legal aid clients wishing to instruct us must do so through a solicitor.

What work can a barrister do under the Public Access Scheme?     

You can use the Public Access Scheme to contact a barrister for help with advice about your case and the law relating to your situation. Direct access barristers can represent you in court, at tribunals, appeal hearings, committee hearings or similar proceedings. They may also draft documents for you, including appeal forms and letters. However, they cannot issue documents or letters on your behalf, so you will need to do this yourself or instruct a third party to do so. Chambers can assist with the instruction of third parties on your behalf.

A public access barrister may also advise you on the evidence you need to progress a case but cannot investigate or collect evidence for you. They can, however, advise you on which professionals you can contact for additional help with your case and may draft letters of instruction for these professionals on your behalf, but you will need to instruct these third parties yourself.

Direct access barristers cannot handle the general management of your case or your affairs and cannot handle money on your behalf.

What are the fees involved with direct access?

The cost of instructing a direct access barrister will depend on a variety of factors, including the nature of the work required, the complexity of your case and the seniority of the barrister. Your fee will be agreed in advance by our clerks.

What is the difference between a barrister and a solicitor?

Barristers and solicitors are two different types of lawyers in England and Wales. They have different skills and usually assist clients in different ways.

In general, if you need representation in court, it will be provided by a barrister; however, some solicitors can provide court representation if they are specially qualified to do so.

If a solicitor has a client who needs representation in court, they will typically instruct a barrister to provide this representation. The solicitor would manage the case, organising documents, filling out forms etc., working in partnership with the barrister.

With the Public Access Scheme, it is now possible for clients to instruct public access barristers directly without going through a solicitor.

How is working with a direct access barrister different from going through a solicitor?

The main difference is that you will not have a solicitor managing your case for you, so you will need to do this yourself. This means you will be responsible for key tasks such as:

  • Organising case documents
  • Filling out forms
  • Writing letters and statements
  • Handling payment of the barrister’s fees and court fees
  • Any other administrative tasks relating to your case

And, if you use a direct access barristers, rules must be followed. A barrister instructed through the Public Access Scheme is not allowed to do any of the following:

  • Issue proceedings or applications.
  • Acknowledging service of proceedings
  • Provide their address as the address for service of proceedings
  • File documents at court
  • Serve documents on another party
  • Issue notices of appeal

However, a barrister can advise you on how to handle these matters yourself.

Is working with a direct access barrister right for me?

This will generally depend on the complexity of your case and how confident you are in taking on the case management.

Under the terms of the Public Access Scheme, public access barristers are not allowed to take on work directly from clients unless doing so is in both the client’s best interests and the interests of justice.

We are always happy to have a discussion with potential clients about whether direct access is appropriate for their case and will always give honest advice about whether we think it may be more suitable to seek the support of a solicitor.

Contact our direct access barristers in London today

To discuss instructing our barristers through direct access, please contact us at your convenience, and we will be happy to advise you.

Contact our direct access barristers today.

25 Bedford Row is a set that offers a variety of expertise and are known for their approachability. Have been quick to embrace the concept of direct access representation in criminal work

Chambers UK


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