Direct Access FAQs

What makes your service different?

Criminal-barrister.co.uk is a service provided by barristers for members of the public, companies, organisations and businesses to instruct a barrister directly in criminal matters. This service allows you to instruct a specialist criminal barrister primarily in cases where public funding (legal aid) is not available, and where it is unnecessary to instruct both a solicitor and barrister, as an expert barrister can both prepare and argue your case in court. It means the cost of hiring a lawyer is substantially reduced, not the quality of skill and representation.

Selecting the right lawyer in a criminal matter ranks as one of the most important decisions you will make in your life if you ever have the misfortune of being charged with criminal offence as your life and liberty may depend on it.

This service is run by experienced criminal barristers and not by a solicitors, companies or unqualified/ quasi-legal or semi professional lawyers.

What is a barrister and do I need one in a criminal case?

Criminal barristers are criminal lawyers who specialise in court room advocacy and providing expert legal advice. They have acquired many years of specialist training in court room advocacy and legal skills.

Criminal barristers, are without doubt, the most specialist and experienced lawyers in the skill of advocacy. Criminal barristers appear and argue cases before Judges and juries and have rights of audience in all higher courts including the Crown Court, Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court of England and Wales and the European Court of Human Rights. A skilled barrister with the necessary knowledge and courtroom experience is crucially important to the outcome of a case.

Our aim is to make an expert criminal barrister as accessible as possible to those who need expert advise and assistance in criminal and regulatory matters from members of the public to companies, organizations, businesses and NGO’s. We firmly believe that a barrister should be an excellent advocate but also able to give expert legal advice and assist a client in a way that is easily understood and clear.

What is Direct Public Access?

All barristers instructed through our service are “Direct Access” accredited and fully regulated by the Bar Standards Board, the regulatory arm of the Bar Council of England and Wales. This means that clients can instruct a barrister directly (without a solicitor) under the Direct Access Scheme if your case is suitable. If you are not entitled to legal aid in a criminal matter, this service is particularly important as you can directly instruct a barrister.

What is the benefit of public access?

If you are paying for your own legal representation, it means that you do not have to pay two lawyers (i.e a solicitor and a barrister) for advice and representation. A recent article in the Daily Mail highlighted the benefits of Direct Access for those in need of legal advice and representation:

“Pricey solicitors are being snubbed… A change in the legal market place that is gathering momentum is ‘Direct Access’ which allows customers to bypass the services of a solicitor and use barristers instead.”

In addition to not having to pay twice it also means that you do not have to pay for services that a solicitor may often charge for such as phone calls to solicitors and every time a letter is written by a solicitor to you as a client. In many cases a fixed fee can be agreed so that you have the certainty of knowing that your legal costs will be fixed.

So I can instruct a barrister directly?

Yes. If you are already facing criminal charges and are not eligible for legal aid and your case is assessed as being suitable for direct access, you can instruct a barrister directly. Some common examples are as follows:

  • Pre-charge advice and consultation: If you have not yet been charged with a criminal offence or before proceedings have commenced and you need specialist advice.
  • Representation at court appearances (hearings and trials) in the Magistrates Court and Crown Court.
  • Drafting legal opinions, grounds and notices of appeals from the Magistrates Court to the Crown Court .
  •  Appearing on your behalf  at appeals to the Crown Court to the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, the Supreme Court  of England and Wales,  Privy Council the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights.
  • Advice on complex areas of criminal law, regulatory offences, police misconduct and complaints. We provide advice and assistance to individuals charged with offences, business and organisations, NGO’s and international clients.

What if my case requires a solicitor as well, can you help?

Yes we can. There are criminal cases which require solicitors. This can depend on the size and complexity of your case, whether an issue arises which prohibits particular types of work that a barrister can carry out.

If you have already instructed a solicitor (and depending on what stage your case has reached) you can still instruct a barrister, through the solicitor, to represent you at court. If your case does require a solicitor we can put you in touch with a criminal solicitors firm.

What if I am entitled to legal aid can I still instruct a criminal barrister?

If you are entitled to legal aid and charged in the Crown Court you can still instruct a barrister through a solicitor. If your solicitor has not yet found a barrister and you wish to instruct one of our barristers to represent you then we may be able to act for you on appropriate instruction.

If you are eligible for legal aid only a solicitor with a legal aid franchise can apply for this on your behalf. If you have been refused legal aid or are not entitled to it we may be able to represent you under direct access. At present direct access work is not available under the Legal Aid Scheme. Depending on your case, a solicitor can instruct one of our barristers, who are able to then represent a client who has the benefit of legal aid. Please note we do not undertake any legal aid work in the magistrates court

If your case does require a solicitor, we can put you in touch with a suitably qualified solicitor.  You still have a choice in instructing a barrister in your case and we may still be able to assist you, working with the solicitor you have instructed.  Either way we can assess (free of charge) whether direct access applies to your case or if we can act on the instruction of a solicitor.

Can I choose my own barrister if I have instructed a solicitor?

Yes. Even if you have instructed a solicitor under legal aid.

Many solicitors firms will have their own “solicitor advocates” (solicitors who are not barristers who have under taken much shorter advocacy training) often who are not as experienced who undertake trials in the Crown Court instead of barristers, often to save costs. You have a right to ask that your solicitor instructs a barrister of your choosing, provided he or she are able to take on your case.

I’ve been told by the Crown Court that I have to make a “contribution” to my legal costs under legal aid. Can you still help?

Yes. If you are required to pay a Legal aid “contribution” towards your costs, we can assess your case and advise whether instructing a barrister is actually cheaper than the legal aid contribution. See our case studies where a client found that instructing a barrister was 35% cheaper than taking the legal aid contribution order towards legal costs.

Whatever stage your criminal matter has reached call us now on 0208 123 9999 to discuss your case with an expert barrister or email your query to info@criminal-barrister.co.uk

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