Public Access

Members of the public and members of professional institutions are able to obtain a barrister's services directly.

What Is Public Access?

Since 2004, the public access scheme has enabled members of the public and businesses to instruct a barrister directly without having to use a solicitor or other third party to instruct on their behalf.

Not all barristers can accept instructions this way, but at Guildhall Chambers we have a number of barristers, across many specialisations licensed to accept instructions directly. 

What Are The Benefits Of The Public Access Scheme?

  • Public access can save you money as you will only be paying for a barrister as opposed to a barrister and a solicitor.
  • You have direct access to a specialist legal advisor and advocate.
  • Increased continuity, your case is handled by one individual, not a firm.
  • As we agree fixed fees in advance of work being undertaken, there is transparency and you can keep control of your legal costs. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is My Case Suitable For Public Access?

Not all cases are suitable for public access instructions. Our barristers are not authorised to conduct litigation on your behalf which means that you need to be confident that you can undertake the administrative tasks associated with managing a case this includes:

  • collating relevant papers and evidence in support.
  • providing clear and concise instructions for your barrister.
  • corresponding with the court and other parties directly (although your barrister will be able to draft letters and other legal documents on your behalf).

If your case is complex, or if you are in any doubt that you can manage these elements of your case yourself, we would recommend that you engage the services of a solicitor.

Public access is not suitable for work that is publicly funded. To find out if you are eligible for public funding (sometimes referred to as legal aid) please click here.

Similarly, we will not undertake 'no win, no fee' arrangements for public access work.

How Much Will It Cost?

The cost will vary depending upon what you are instructing a barrister to do for you, the complexity and nature of your case and the seniority of counsel. We have a dedicated, experienced team of clerks that will be your first point of contact with Guildhall Chambers.

Once papers and clear instructions have been received, a clerk will contact you with a proposed fee and, assuming that is agreed, they will send you a letter of engagement that sets out our terms and conditions, confirms the quote and requires your counter-signature. Fees are then to be paid in advance of the work being undertaken. No fees are payable until that quote has been given, accepted and that letter of engagement signed.

Why Instruct A Barrister?

This has become less obvious in recent years, but typically barristers specialise in providing expert legal advice, drafting documents and advocacy in court.

You can instruct a barrister to:

  • provide you with expert legal advice about the merits and potential outcomes in your case.
  • assist you to draft correspondence and in some circumstances, corresponding on your behalf.
  • help to draft statements from litigants and witnesses and in some circumstances, investigate and collect evidence on your behalf.
  • draft formal court documents.
  • advise you on suitable experts and draft instructions to expert witnesses.
  • offer you advice on the next steps to be taken in proceedings.
  • assist you in trying to resolve your case without going to court (e.g. by way of mediation or other form of alternative dispute resolution).
  • represent you in court.

Unless authorised to conduct litigation, unlike solicitors, our barristers cannot:

  • issue or serve court documents on your behalf.
  • handle client money.
  • instruct an expert witness on your behalf.

How Do I Instruct A Barrister Under Public Access?

The first step will be to complete our online enquiry form.

Following receipt, one of the clerks will contact you, either by telephone or by e-mail.

The clerks will run through your enquiry form and advise you of your best options, if public access is right for your circumstances, you will be asked to send the barrister more detailed information about your case so that they can review your instructions and provide a quote for the work required. 

For the guidance notes please click here.

In some circumstances, a barrister will be required by law to carry out identification procedures. Whether these procedures apply will be considered by the barrister following your initial contact. If it does apply, the barrister will require proof of your identity i.e. proof of your name, date of birth and current address. If you are acting on behalf of a company, you will be required to produce a certified copy of Certificate of Incorporation, the latest accounts filed at Companies House and evidence that you are authorised to act on behalf of that company.

What If I Have A Complaint?

If you are not satisfied with the service of your barrister or Guildhall Chambers, you should first refer the matter to chambers in line with the chambers complaints procedure. If you would like a copy of the complaints procedure, please contact civil.clerks@guildhallchambers.co.uk.

If you are not happy with the barrister's or Chambers' reply then you can contact the Legal Ombudsman (as long as you complain to the Legal Ombudsman within 12 months of discovering that there was a problem).

The contact details are as follows:

Office of the Legal Ombudsman
3rd Floor
Sunlight House
Quay Street
Manchester
M3 3JZ

Email: iso@olso.gsi.gov.uk
Phone: 0161 839 7262
Lo-call no: 0845 601 0794 (charged at local rates - available nationally)

Alternatively you can contact the Bar Council online.