Not to be confused with those earnest people who concoct your favourite coffee blend, barristers are qualified legal experts.
Their main job is to draft legal documents, provide legal opinions – in writing, by telephone conference or in person – and appear in court to represent your interests.
They often specialise in areas like contract law, debt recovery and negligence – including professional negligence – and they can assist in negotiations, including mediation.
We find that it can often prove cheaper in the long run, and more efficient time-wise, to instruct a barrister at an early stage in your claim – or even before you make a claim – so that you receive an idea of the likelihood of you being successful, and to improve your chances of being successful in any claim you make.
It is better to know that sooner rather than later, for example, if there are weaknesses in your case which suggest that you should accept less in settlement than you would otherwise expect or that you should not make any claim at all.
The traditional way to instruct a barrister is to first instruct solicitors. A different way of instructing a barrister – and one which is increasing in popularity because of the benefits it can bring – is to do so directly. This is known as ‘direct access’ or ‘public access’.
Many people find this can improve the speed and clarity of communication between you and the person who would ultimately present your case in court.
Another significant benefit is cost, in that you only pay one lawyer’s fees; this is particularly telling if you are dealing with the administration of your claim, such as sending letters to the court and your opponent, gathering evidence, preparing and printing documents and so on.
Finally, instructing an expert barrister directly does mean that we at Philip Elliott Associates can run the process from start to finish and ensure it flows seamlessly throughout.
With thanks to Stephen Hines, Barrister, Quartz Barrister Chambers