Do I need a solicitor, is a common query for people involved in civil claims. You don’t always “have to” but very often it is worthwhile.
Direct Access Barristers
However, it is important to note that the rules which regulate what barristers can and cannot do have been changed this month, meaning litigants have the option of bypassing a solicitor and going straight to a barrister.
Barristers are able to take instructions from clients, without using solicitors, if the barristers carry out the appropriate training. The system is known as “public access”. The public access system has now been made more easily available to junior barristers with less than three years’ practising experience, as now much less training needed. Under the new rules these junior barristers only have to complete 12 hours’ training. They must also keep a log of cases dealt with, along with any problems and feedback.
Pros And Cons Of Direct Access
There are advantages and disadvantages of going straight to a barrister. Avoiding the cost of a solicitor is an obvious benefit. If you are confident to do the vast majority of the work yourself, you might just use the barrister as and when needed, such as preparing a defence to a claim or conducting the trial. In small claims matters, it might be possible to get a junior barrister to conduct a trial for you, for a fee ranging between £250-£750 plus. The cost is unlikely to be irrecoverable in a small claim but if having a barrister conduct the hearing is the difference between winning and losing the case, it could prove to be a good investment.
Barristers however, do not have the same experience of running claims from start to finish as solicitors. Usually, the barristers are not involved in day to day activities and are instead consulted at key stage in the litigation as it progresses.
Solicitors Compared To Direct Access Barristers
Using a public access junior barrister is different from using a junior solicitor. Junior barristers are self employed so there is less support for them. A junior solicitor however, is an employee of the firm of solicitors so should have support and supervision by more senior and experienced solicitors. If a junior barrister is for example on holiday, there will not be another barrister there already familiar with the file to help you, should you need to speak to someone. Barristers cannot “conduct litigation” which means they cannot on behalf of a client:
- Issue proceedings, applications or appeals
- Sign documents on behalf of clients
- Handle client’s money or pay court fees
- Instruct an expert or locate witnesses.
Do I Need A Solicitor For A Small Claim?
Do I need a solicitor? In small claims matters, the option of a junior barrister rather than a solicitor to help with a trial or drafting of key documents, is an attractive one. Obtaining the advice of a barrister at key stages could be money well spent if it results in a win at trial.