Before 2004, clients had no direct access to barristers but had to go to a solicitor first. It is still generally the case that when legal proceedings are issued, both a solicitor and barrister are needed (the solicitor takes witness statements, investigates, and carries out the document management and disclosure process, and the barrister drafts formal court documents, provides legal advice and represents the client in court). However, earlier on, when you are seeking legal advice on whether you have a good claim or a good defence, or simply seeking advice about how to manage matters so as to avoid, if possible, a legal dispute arising, you can now go direct to a barrister for specialist advice. If the matter does eventually end up with legal proceedings and a solicitor is needed, at that stage the barrister can recommend a suitable firm of solicitors to work in conjunction with.
Historically barristers were only able to represent a client if instructed by a solicitor. In 2009, the regulations changed, meaning that members of the public can now instruct barristers directly. This has a number of advantages for the lay client, principally a financial saving.Barristers are specialist advocates and advisers. Under the public access scheme, you can engage and deal directly with your barrister without the need to instruct a solicitor as well.
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