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Traditionally, a member of the public (a so-called lay client) instructed a solicitor (a so-called professional client) to instruct a barrister, either for advice or representation in court.
There was, and remains, a division of labour between the solicitor and the barrister, but this system means two sets of fees.
In July 2004, the bar council permitted barristers to accept instructions directly from members of the public, in certain circumstances. The scheme was extended significantly, in April 2010.
Two principles apply. One, the member of the public has to be able to act as his/her own solicitor (suitably advised by the barrister). And two, the so-called cab-rank rule does not apply: the barrister (like a solicitor) has to decide whether to accept such instructions.
Austen Morgan welcomes all queries regarding public access. A member of the public will be offered a free consultation, to which he/she should bring all the legally relevant papers. Please call chambers to make an appointment.
Any public access agreement will be committed to writing, and be legally binding, the letter of instructions containing details of proposed work and likely fees.
Thereafter, the member of the public deals with a designated clerk, as if he/she were a solicitor.
The advantages of the public access scheme are: for the member of the public, one set of fees, direct access to the barrister and personal responsibility for their recourse to law; and, for the barrister, direct instructions and the opportunity to communicate directly with his/her client.