Public Access

Overview

 

Thanks to the Public Access Scheme, members of the public needing legal advice can now instruct a barrister directly.  If you are a business owner or director, you might need to respond to a claim from an employee (say for discrimination, unfair or wrongful dismissal or an industrial relations issue), or you might have a commercial dispute.  If you are an employee, you may want to bring a claim against your employer.

 

OBTAIN PUBLIC ACCESS TO A BARRISTER

By instructing a barrister directly you can be confident of receiving the very best specialist legal advice at a lower cost.

Old Square Chambers has a team of expert public access barristers in employment, discrimination and commercial disputes. By expert we mean people who specialise in these areas and are up-to-speed on every aspect of case law and the latest legal developments. They can give you a speedy and honest overview of your case plus sensible and pragmatic advice. As well as being professional, you’ll also find us personable and approachable.

If you need legal advice in any of these areas please call one of our clerks and they will listen to your case (our clerking team is trained to ask the right questions and your information is handled with sensitivity and in complete confidence), suggest the best barrister for you and talk you through the next steps.  If you prefer, you can complete the form below or alternatively e mail us on publicaccess@oldsquare.co.uk and we’ll get back to you.

Please note, any information you supply to us by email or the aforementioned form will be treated in confidence and in accordance with our Barrister Privacy Notice, which you can read by clicking here. Should you have any queries or concerns as to how we may use, store or retain your data, please do contact our Chambers Director directly on gdpr@oldsquare.co.uk or speak to a member of the clerking team.

Either way we’d welcome an opportunity to advise you.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PUBLIC ACCESS

  • You specialise in a number of areas; in which of these do you accept public access instructions? We accept public access enquiries and instructions in relation to employment matters representing both employees and employers. Should you wish to enquire as to whether we are able to assist in any other specialisms listed on our website via the Public Access Scheme, please contact our clerking team. Fee structures vary by area of law so some do not lend themselves to receiving instructions in this way.  We do not accept no win no fee cases (CFA) via public access  as  we require counsel to be paid in advance for their work. We can however recommend specialist solicitors and alternative resources who will be able to work with you to resolve the matter and subsequently instruct a barrister where appropriate.
  • My case is related to an employment matter. Will I still need a solicitor?  In the event that your case would benefit from a solicitor’s advice or support  we will  advise you of this at the outset or when the need arises, whichever occurs first.  We work with some of the UK’s best employment solicitors so if necessary we can introduce you to a specialist solicitor as required.
  • How much will it cost? We can only advise how much it will cost once we have all of the necessary information about your case (this is no different to instructions from  solicitors).  Costs vary according to the complexity of your case, the amount of documentation and witnesses involved, whether you need a senior or junior barrister, the value of your case and the estimated length of hearing.  We will agree fees with you in advance and in writing so you can be sure of financial certainty.  If you would like to receive a quotation, please contact one of our clerking team. To see further information on fee structures, please refer to the section below.  
  • What could impact on the timescales of my case? Timescales for your case may vary depending on factors such as barristers’ availability, the complexity of your case, the need for additional documents and the other side’s approach. However, as a guide only, more straightforward cases in the Employment Tribunal for example tend to have a hearing date within four to six months of a claim being made.
  • What else could cause delays to my case/advice? Unforeseeable factors such as, Employment Tribunal delays , cases overrunning, barrister illness and other factors outside of our control could cause delays. We will always endeavour to work with you to ensure we  meet and exceed your expectations wherever possible. Where it is not possible, we will ensure we communicate clearly and regularly with you to guide you through any challenges.
  • Which barrister is right for my case? Once the clerks have all of the necessary information about your case they  will be able to match your needs to the barrister with the most relevant experience, availability and cost. Factors influencing the choice will be the area of expertise, complexity of your case,  value of your case, and your budget. Our clerks are highly skilled and very experienced in matching the right counsel to appropriate cases.
  • Are barristers regulated? Yes, all barristers, and Chambers, are regulated by the Bar Standards Board.
  • Is there anywhere else I can research whether the Public Access Scheme is right for me? Yes, our regulator, the Bar Standards Board, publish a ‘Public Access Guide for Lay Clients’ (i.e. members of the public using the Public Access Scheme to instruct a barrister directly) which may also help you to reach an informed decision.
  • Can you provide me with an idea of the stages and timescales in relation to my case? Every case varies according to the complexity, nature and stage of the case. A ‘typical’ employment case for instance, i.e. that being a client wishing to raise/defend a case of unfair dismissal at Tribunal would be (for indication only):

 - Enquiry received
 - Further information sought where needed (within 3 working days, often more quickly – you will be asked to complete an enquiry form at the outset)
 - If it is a matter we can accept via public access your enquiry will be sent to our appropriate public access barristers unless you have made a specific request for a specific barrister/s or unless the case requires a specific expertise particular to a member/some members of the team. They are asked to respond as to whether they would be willing to take on your case and, where applicable, meet any timescales you have outlined (i.e. if you already have a Tribunal date for example).
- We would expect to  get back to you within a further 3 working days at most.
- If we are unable to represent you, we will offer you details of organisations you can contact for support and assistance.
- If we are able to represent you, we will provide an indicative quotation for the work required according to the information supplied. The barrister may at this stage wish to speak with you directly but it is likely that communication will be via a member of the clerking team initially.
- If you wish to accept the quotation, you will be asked to do so in writing and to provide payment as per that quotation prior to the barrister being able to start work on your case.
- The timescales, once we have received your instruction to begin work, will vary according to the matter, any existing deadlines and the barrister’s workload at that time. The clerk will liaise with you to communicate the timescale the barrister has advised and will monitor this to ensure delivery of the service you have requested.
- Please be aware that any delay in you providing documentation to us could result in your barrister not being available to conduct the work as their professional commitments can change on a day to day basis. A barrister will not expect to work evening’s and weekends ahead of a case because information has not been supplied when requested or in adequate time or fashion to allow them to prepare your case. This could have a significant impact on your prospect of success and incur additional costs so please make sure you respond promptly to any requests received.

  • I’d like to go ahead and speak to someone in greater detail. What should I do now? To start the process, please email our clerking team on clerks@oldsquare.co.uk providing your contact details and giving a brief (we would suggest no longer than 200 words) outline of your case. If the clerks feel we may be able to assist you under the Public Access Scheme, you will be sent a form to complete and return to us. If the clerk requires further information to assess as to whether the case is suitable for public access, or if it is a matter we do not feel we can assist on via this scheme but can provide recommendations on, then we will come back to you to let you know that’s the case. If you would prefer to speak to somebody by telephone, please call 020 7269 0300 to speak to a member of the team. If you require any reasonable adjustments to the process, please do contact either our Senior Clerk or Chambers Director on the above details for assistance.


Employers might also find the following websites useful:


Choosing the public access route means you can join the increasing number of people and companies who prefer to work with barrister directly.  Here are some examples.

  • Employment Handbook and Contracts - One of England’s largest greetings card manufacturers asked one of our employment barristers to update and redraft their employment handbook and employment contracts.  We provided the new drafts and were also able to provide their HR department with ongoing advice and guidance on implementing the changes.
  • Retained Barrister - Public access employment barristers are well placed to provide support directly to HR professionals.   A number of our barristers are instructed directly by the HR departments of both large and small companies.  One of our employment barristers provides guidance and support to the in-house HR team in of one of world’s largest rating agencies.  He is available on an ongoing basis to help and advise them on the full range of employment law problems that arise in the workplace, from operating fair internal disciplinary procedures, to advising on policies and procedures, to supporting redundancy consultation processes.
  • Brussels and Rome Regulations - One of our barristers was instructed at short notice to defend a commercial client in an international contractual dispute.  He was able to produce a skeleton argument within 24 hours.   He identified that the French Courts should have exclusive jurisdiction under Article 22 of the Brussels 1 Regulation and the claim was struck out for want of jurisdiction.
  • Pre hearing settlement – One of our public access employment barristers successfully negotiated a settlement in an Employment Tribunal case involving equal pay and multiple discrimination against an Employer. The Claimant required assistance with advice and representation at preliminary hearings and following Counsel’s advice the claim was settled before the final hearing.

 

Further information on fee structures

There are various different fee charging models available and these will vary according to each individual case. All costs will be agreed in writing prior to commencement of any work by the barrister and work will not begin until fees have been paid.

One of the fee structures most commonly used for cases in the Employment Tribunal, or written advice ahead of any such action, is a  fixed fee. This means we will quote a fee in advance of the work being carried out. Any potential variations to this fee, will be outlined in the ‘Terms of Work’ contract that we send you. We provide a basic overview at the end of this document to assist you in understand what this terminology means as well.

Please see  below estimates based on the ranges of fixed fees for barristers at Old Square Chambers in ordinary unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal claims.

Stage of Case Range of fixed fees (estimates)
Written advice on your claim £350 to £2,500 plus VAT
Preparation of case, including any meetings with you, telephone conferences, and assisting you with drafting of any tribunal documents £750 to £3,000 plus VAT
Preliminary hearing in London region £750 to £3,000 plus VAT
First day's tribunal appearance based upon a two day hearing in London £1,500 to £8,000 plus VAT
Tribunal appearances per day, after the first day £500 to £4,000 plus VAT
Remedy hearing (once a judgment has been passed and a decision needs to be made in relation to compensation) with a time estimate of 1 day in the London region £1,000 to £5,000 plus VAT

All information is correct as at the time of publication, being January 2020.

Your fees may be towards the higher end of the range if you need or would prefer a more experienced barrister and/or you have a more complex case. Some examples of factors that could increase costs are, unexpected applications being issued by the other side, hearings being adjourned by the Tribunal and/ or the hearing lasting longer than expected.

Other things to consider

When we provide you with the Terms of Work we will outline to you any potential additional costs that may be incurred clearly.

Here we provide some further information on the terminology we use. Your case will not be deemed as instructions received until we have received a signed copy of the Terms of Work and payments due as outlined. If you decide not to proceed once you have received the Terms of Work, simply let the clerk know this is your decision. Work will not commence on your case beyond securing terms with you before payment is received and the signed contract is returned.

The quotation and Terms of Work will advise as to whether a cost supplied includes VAT or excludes VAT. For all UK based work, VAT will be applicable if stated. If you feel your tax position means you will not be liable for VAT, please ensure you advise us of this at the outset so that we may make suitable enquiries. The majority of barristers are VAT registered which means the HMRC requires them to charge VAT other than in certain exceptional circumstances.

Pricing structures

The following pricing structures may be applied:

Fixed fees – A fee will be quoted that is a fixed sum, payable in advance to the barrister. The services that will be provided for the fee will be outlined to you in the quotation and the Terms of Work.

Brief fee and refresher – A brief fee is a fixed fee which covers preparation for a hearing and includes the first day of the hearing. A refresher is a fixed fee for each subsequent day of the hearing. A refresher fee, or re-reading fee, may also be chargeable if a case is adjourned and not relisted for a period of time that requires the barrister to re-read and consider the papers and any further papers in order to  represent you effectively at the adjourned hearing. This is an important point to note as it is easy to underestimate what other professional commitments your barrister is managing alongside your case. To ensure the barrister provides you with the best possible representation, if a case has been adjourned for a period of time they must re-read the papers and the re-reading and/or refresher fee will become payable. This cost will be outlined in your Terms of Work agreement.

Hourly rate – A fee is charged per hour worked on the case. The setting of hourly rates is not necessarily straightforward and a number of factors may determine the rate charged. As with all public access instructions, payment must be received in advance before work is undertaken, so if you choose to work to an hourly rate, whilst an estimate of time will be provided, further incremental payments may be made or required during the case. In circumstances where fees have not been paid in advance we reserve the right to refrain from providing you with any written advices or pleadings until the fees have been paid.

 

 

 

Thanks to the Public Access Scheme, members of the public needing legal advice can now instruct a barrister directly.  If you are a business owner or director, you might need to respond to a claim from an employee (say for discrimination, unfair or wrongful dismissal or an industrial relations issue), or you might have a commercial dispute.  If you are an employee, you may want to bring a claim against your employer.

 

OBTAIN PUBLIC ACCESS TO A BARRISTER

By instructing a barrister directly you can be confident of receiving the very best specialist legal advice at a lower cost.

Old Square Chambers has a team of expert public access barristers in employment, discrimination and commercial disputes. By expert we mean people who specialise in these areas and are up-to-speed on every aspect of case law and the latest legal developments. They can give you a speedy and honest overview of your case plus sensible and pragmatic advice. As well as being professional, you’ll also find us personable and approachable.

If you need legal advice in any of these areas please call one of our clerks and they will listen to your case (our clerking team is trained to ask the right questions and your information is handled with sensitivity and in complete confidence), suggest the best barrister for you and talk you through the next steps.  If you prefer, you can complete the form below or alternatively e mail us on publicaccess@oldsquare.co.uk and we’ll get back to you.

Please note, any information you supply to us by email or the aforementioned form will be treated in confidence and in accordance with our Barrister Privacy Notice, which you can read by clicking here. Should you have any queries or concerns as to how we may use, store or retain your data, please do contact our Chambers Director directly on gdpr@oldsquare.co.uk or speak to a member of the clerking team.

Either way we’d welcome an opportunity to advise you.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PUBLIC ACCESS

  • You specialise in a number of areas; in which of these do you accept public access instructions? We accept public access enquiries and instructions in relation to employment matters representing both employees and employers. Should you wish to enquire as to whether we are able to assist in any other specialisms listed on our website via the Public Access Scheme, please contact our clerking team. Fee structures vary by area of law so some do not lend themselves to receiving instructions in this way.  We do not accept no win no fee cases (CFA) via public access  as  we require counsel to be paid in advance for their work. We can however recommend specialist solicitors and alternative resources who will be able to work with you to resolve the matter and subsequently instruct a barrister where appropriate.
  • My case is related to an employment matter. Will I still need a solicitor?  In the event that your case would benefit from a solicitor’s advice or support  we will  advise you of this at the outset or when the need arises, whichever occurs first.  We work with some of the UK’s best employment solicitors so if necessary we can introduce you to a specialist solicitor as required.
  • How much will it cost? We can only advise how much it will cost once we have all of the necessary information about your case (this is no different to instructions from  solicitors).  Costs vary according to the complexity of your case, the amount of documentation and witnesses involved, whether you need a senior or junior barrister, the value of your case and the estimated length of hearing.  We will agree fees with you in advance and in writing so you can be sure of financial certainty.  If you would like to receive a quotation, please contact one of our clerking team. To see further information on fee structures, please refer to the section below.  
  • What could impact on the timescales of my case? Timescales for your case may vary depending on factors such as barristers’ availability, the complexity of your case, the need for additional documents and the other side’s approach. However, as a guide only, more straightforward cases in the Employment Tribunal for example tend to have a hearing date within four to six months of a claim being made.
  • What else could cause delays to my case/advice? Unforeseeable factors such as, Employment Tribunal delays , cases overrunning, barrister illness and other factors outside of our control could cause delays. We will always endeavour to work with you to ensure we  meet and exceed your expectations wherever possible. Where it is not possible, we will ensure we communicate clearly and regularly with you to guide you through any challenges.
  • Which barrister is right for my case? Once the clerks have all of the necessary information about your case they  will be able to match your needs to the barrister with the most relevant experience, availability and cost. Factors influencing the choice will be the area of expertise, complexity of your case,  value of your case, and your budget. Our clerks are highly skilled and very experienced in matching the right counsel to appropriate cases.
  • Are barristers regulated? Yes, all barristers, and Chambers, are regulated by the Bar Standards Board.
  • Is there anywhere else I can research whether the Public Access Scheme is right for me? Yes, our regulator, the Bar Standards Board, publish a ‘Public Access Guide for Lay Clients’ (i.e. members of the public using the Public Access Scheme to instruct a barrister directly) which may also help you to reach an informed decision.
  • Can you provide me with an idea of the stages and timescales in relation to my case? Every case varies according to the complexity, nature and stage of the case. A ‘typical’ employment case for instance, i.e. that being a client wishing to raise/defend a case of unfair dismissal at Tribunal would be (for indication only):

 - Enquiry received
 - Further information sought where needed (within 3 working days, often more quickly – you will be asked to complete an enquiry form at the outset)
 - If it is a matter we can accept via public access your enquiry will be sent to our appropriate public access barristers unless you have made a specific request for a specific barrister/s or unless the case requires a specific expertise particular to a member/some members of the team. They are asked to respond as to whether they would be willing to take on your case and, where applicable, meet any timescales you have outlined (i.e. if you already have a Tribunal date for example).
- We would expect to  get back to you within a further 3 working days at most.
- If we are unable to represent you, we will offer you details of organisations you can contact for support and assistance.
- If we are able to represent you, we will provide an indicative quotation for the work required according to the information supplied. The barrister may at this stage wish to speak with you directly but it is likely that communication will be via a member of the clerking team initially.
- If you wish to accept the quotation, you will be asked to do so in writing and to provide payment as per that quotation prior to the barrister being able to start work on your case.
- The timescales, once we have received your instruction to begin work, will vary according to the matter, any existing deadlines and the barrister’s workload at that time. The clerk will liaise with you to communicate the timescale the barrister has advised and will monitor this to ensure delivery of the service you have requested.
- Please be aware that any delay in you providing documentation to us could result in your barrister not being available to conduct the work as their professional commitments can change on a day to day basis. A barrister will not expect to work evening’s and weekends ahead of a case because information has not been supplied when requested or in adequate time or fashion to allow them to prepare your case. This could have a significant impact on your prospect of success and incur additional costs so please make sure you respond promptly to any requests received.

  • I’d like to go ahead and speak to someone in greater detail. What should I do now? To start the process, please email our clerking team on clerks@oldsquare.co.uk providing your contact details and giving a brief (we would suggest no longer than 200 words) outline of your case. If the clerks feel we may be able to assist you under the Public Access Scheme, you will be sent a form to complete and return to us. If the clerk requires further information to assess as to whether the case is suitable for public access, or if it is a matter we do not feel we can assist on via this scheme but can provide recommendations on, then we will come back to you to let you know that’s the case. If you would prefer to speak to somebody by telephone, please call 020 7269 0300 to speak to a member of the team. If you require any reasonable adjustments to the process, please do contact either our Senior Clerk or Chambers Director on the above details for assistance.


Employers might also find the following websites useful:


Choosing the public access route means you can join the increasing number of people and companies who prefer to work with barrister directly.  Here are some examples.

  • Employment Handbook and Contracts - One of England’s largest greetings card manufacturers asked one of our employment barristers to update and redraft their employment handbook and employment contracts.  We provided the new drafts and were also able to provide their HR department with ongoing advice and guidance on implementing the changes.
  • Retained Barrister - Public access employment barristers are well placed to provide support directly to HR professionals.   A number of our barristers are instructed directly by the HR departments of both large and small companies.  One of our employment barristers provides guidance and support to the in-house HR team in of one of world’s largest rating agencies.  He is available on an ongoing basis to help and advise them on the full range of employment law problems that arise in the workplace, from operating fair internal disciplinary procedures, to advising on policies and procedures, to supporting redundancy consultation processes.
  • Brussels and Rome Regulations - One of our barristers was instructed at short notice to defend a commercial client in an international contractual dispute.  He was able to produce a skeleton argument within 24 hours.   He identified that the French Courts should have exclusive jurisdiction under Article 22 of the Brussels 1 Regulation and the claim was struck out for want of jurisdiction.
  • Pre hearing settlement – One of our public access employment barristers successfully negotiated a settlement in an Employment Tribunal case involving equal pay and multiple discrimination against an Employer. The Claimant required assistance with advice and representation at preliminary hearings and following Counsel’s advice the claim was settled before the final hearing.

 

Further information on fee structures

There are various different fee charging models available and these will vary according to each individual case. All costs will be agreed in writing prior to commencement of any work by the barrister and work will not begin until fees have been paid.

One of the fee structures most commonly used for cases in the Employment Tribunal, or written advice ahead of any such action, is a  fixed fee. This means we will quote a fee in advance of the work being carried out. Any potential variations to this fee, will be outlined in the ‘Terms of Work’ contract that we send you. We provide a basic overview at the end of this document to assist you in understand what this terminology means as well.

Please see  below estimates based on the ranges of fixed fees for barristers at Old Square Chambers in ordinary unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal claims.

Stage of Case Range of fixed fees (estimates)
Written advice on your claim £350 to £2,500 plus VAT
Preparation of case, including any meetings with you, telephone conferences, and assisting you with drafting of any tribunal documents £750 to £3,000 plus VAT
Preliminary hearing in London region £750 to £3,000 plus VAT
First day's tribunal appearance based upon a two day hearing in London £1,500 to £8,000 plus VAT
Tribunal appearances per day, after the first day £500 to £4,000 plus VAT
Remedy hearing (once a judgment has been passed and a decision needs to be made in relation to compensation) with a time estimate of 1 day in the London region £1,000 to £5,000 plus VAT

All information is correct as at the time of publication, being January 2020.

Your fees may be towards the higher end of the range if you need or would prefer a more experienced barrister and/or you have a more complex case. Some examples of factors that could increase costs are, unexpected applications being issued by the other side, hearings being adjourned by the Tribunal and/ or the hearing lasting longer than expected.

Other things to consider

When we provide you with the Terms of Work we will outline to you any potential additional costs that may be incurred clearly.

Here we provide some further information on the terminology we use. Your case will not be deemed as instructions received until we have received a signed copy of the Terms of Work and payments due as outlined. If you decide not to proceed once you have received the Terms of Work, simply let the clerk know this is your decision. Work will not commence on your case beyond securing terms with you before payment is received and the signed contract is returned.

The quotation and Terms of Work will advise as to whether a cost supplied includes VAT or excludes VAT. For all UK based work, VAT will be applicable if stated. If you feel your tax position means you will not be liable for VAT, please ensure you advise us of this at the outset so that we may make suitable enquiries. The majority of barristers are VAT registered which means the HMRC requires them to charge VAT other than in certain exceptional circumstances.

Pricing structures

The following pricing structures may be applied:

Fixed fees – A fee will be quoted that is a fixed sum, payable in advance to the barrister. The services that will be provided for the fee will be outlined to you in the quotation and the Terms of Work.

Brief fee and refresher – A brief fee is a fixed fee which covers preparation for a hearing and includes the first day of the hearing. A refresher is a fixed fee for each subsequent day of the hearing. A refresher fee, or re-reading fee, may also be chargeable if a case is adjourned and not relisted for a period of time that requires the barrister to re-read and consider the papers and any further papers in order to  represent you effectively at the adjourned hearing. This is an important point to note as it is easy to underestimate what other professional commitments your barrister is managing alongside your case. To ensure the barrister provides you with the best possible representation, if a case has been adjourned for a period of time they must re-read the papers and the re-reading and/or refresher fee will become payable. This cost will be outlined in your Terms of Work agreement.

Hourly rate – A fee is charged per hour worked on the case. The setting of hourly rates is not necessarily straightforward and a number of factors may determine the rate charged. As with all public access instructions, payment must be received in advance before work is undertaken, so if you choose to work to an hourly rate, whilst an estimate of time will be provided, further incremental payments may be made or required during the case. In circumstances where fees have not been paid in advance we reserve the right to refrain from providing you with any written advices or pleadings until the fees have been paid.

 

 

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