Public Access FAQ


The ‘Public Access Scheme’ allows individuals and organisations to instruct barristers directly on most civil matters.

Most of the barristers at St John’s have completed public access training. We can accept instructions in relation to advisory work, drafting and advocacy through public access, as long as your case is suitable.

We suggest that you read all of the information on this page about Public Access before contacting us by phone, email or by using our online form to discuss your case.

We also recommend that you read the following:

Frequently asked questions

What is Public Access?

Before 2004, members of the public and corporate clients could only instruct a barrister by first instructing a solicitor. Since 2004 they have been able to obtain legal advice and representation from a barrister without having to go through a solicitor first. This is called Public Access.

What does Public Access mean for you?

Rather than having to engage (and pay for) a solicitor to instruct a barrister for you, the Public Access scheme enables you to liaise directly with a barrister. Our barristers will accept your instructions to provide legal advice or representation in court as long as the case is suitable. We will advise you if a solicitor is required.

What are the benefits of Public Access?

  • direct access to a barrister
  • clear, concise and direct communication with your chosen barrister
  • working on a fixed fee basis

What services can our barristers offer?

  • drafting documents, contracts, standard terms of business, correspondence, formal court documents and statements from litigants and witnesses
  • offering advice on the next steps to be taken in proceedings
  • recommending relevant experts
  • preparing instructions to expert witnesses

Under the Public Access scheme barristers are not allowed to carry out the following on your behalf: 

  • issuing court documents
  • contacting witnesses or collect and investigate evidence
  • instructing an expert witness
  • handling your money
  • corresponding with the other party to a dispute

Whilst legally we are unable to carry out the actions above, we are able to assist and advise on how you can proceed. If a solicitor is required we can recommend a suitable firm.

What can St John’s Chambers offer you?

St John’s Chambers is a group of independent individual barristers, each with their own specialist areas of practice. Collectively, the team at St John’s provides coverage of a wide range of areas of law. You can view each of our barrister’s specialisms, personal qualifications and experience to find the barrister who best suits your needs.

What will it cost?

Work can be undertaken at an hourly rate or we can quote you a fixed fee for particular pieces of work.

The cost will vary according to the seniority and experience of the barrister consulted, and the amount of work involved.

Year of Call Hourly rate
3 – 5 years £100 – £120
5 – 10 years £120 – £180
10 + years £180 – £300
QC’s £300 – £500

The fee range above provides an indication of our charges. Please contact us for guidance on who might be suitable to handle your case, or for a more accurate assessment of fees for your case.

Under Public Access we require all fees to be paid in advance of work being carried out.

Is my case suitable for Public Access?

Public access is best suited to clients who are organised and able to carry out the administrative preparation for a case themselves. If you are not good with paperwork Public Access might not be for you.

If you want to instruct a barrister to attend at a hearing that has already been listed, or to carry out any other work that is urgent, you will need to act promptly to ensure that there is enough time for the work to be carried out and to ensure that your barrister of choice is available on the date in question.

Barristers spend a lot of time in court so cannot always be on the end of a phone when something urgent comes up. If your case is likely to require frequent and urgent advice or lots of exchanges of correspondence your case might not be suited to Public Access.

The Bar Council has produced some guidance which sets out the details of the sort of direct access work a barrister is permitted to conduct without a solicitor being involved. This will help to give you an idea of whether your case might be suitable for direct access, but if in doubt please get in touch.

Is my family case suitable for Public Access?

Some of the family barristers at St John’s Chambers do carry out work through Public Access and will assess each case for suitability for direct instruction. Below is some general guidance about family cases, but please read the general suitability information above.

In some cases it is advisable for parents involved in disputes about children to have a solicitor to guide them on a day to day basis as situations arise, for example when problems with contact crop up regularly.

Some children cases require the gathering of evidence in the form of witness statements or the obtaining of large amounts of disclosure from various agencies, the instruction of experts or frequent hearings. Depending on what sort of help you are asking for a case with these features might be unsuitable for public access.

A barrister’s advice is only as good as the information they are given. If you are going to struggle to get your paperwork together or if you find it difficult to give a clear explanation of the background to a case, it might be better if your case is dealt with by a solicitor who can spend time helping you get your case together before sending the papers and all the relevant information to a barrister.

For financial cases, your barrister will need you to give full financial information before they can advise you. We ask all our clients to complete Form E from the Justice website and a short typed statement explaining the nature of the case and what you are hoping to achieve from it so that we can assess whether the case is suitable.

The Bar Council has produced some guidance which sets out the details of the sort of direct access work a barrister is permitted to conduct without a solicitor being involved. This will help to give you an idea of whether your case might be suitable for direct access, but if in doubt please get in touch.

How do I instruct a barrister at St John’s Chambers?

Complete our on-line Public Access Application Form

We will get in touch with you within 24 hours by telephone or e-mail to discuss your case, and recommend the right barrister or QC for you and give a fixed fee quote.

For more information about our services call Derek Jenkins, Chief Executive on 0117 923 4711.

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