What is it?
Also known as direct access, direct briefing occurs where an individual or a corporate or government lawyer briefs a barrister directly, without using an external solicitor.
• Any in-house lawyer with a current practising certificate can brief a barrister directly.
• In certain circumstances, barristers can also accept instructions from a person who is not a lawyer. This type of work is generally known as ‘direct access’.
• Sometimes direct access work comes to a barrister from corporations, accounting firms or government departments who do not employ their own in-house solicitors.
What are the advantages and benefits of direct briefing?
There are many advantages of direct briefing. The strategic, early and direct involvement of a barrister often saves time and money. Using a barrister offers a cost-efficient alternative for in-house counsel who are seeking access to specialist expertise in every area of the law.
By briefing early, barristers are able to assist in the development of a strategy for the client to use, whether or not the matter is likely to end up in litigation. Barristers can also help to identify and narrow the issues in dispute and consider appropriate alternative dispute resolution options.
Involving a barrister in the early stages of a litigious matter will allow the barrister to draft or settle pleadings, affidavits or the recommended scope of expert reports. This can assist in keeping costs down, as bringing in barristers at later stages of litigation often means that gaps or deficiencies in pleadings, causes of action and evidence are identified and amendments are required, incurring further costs and delay.
Is my case suitable for direct briefing?
Direct briefing is particularly suited to urgent applications and less complex matters. However, direct briefing can also be used when seeking legal advice from a barrister - written or in conference - on most matters including dispute resolution and can review documents for particular issues, for example: tax, human resources/employment, restraint of trade, public relations/media, regulatory/compliance issues.
What can a barrister do?
Barristers are not restricted to court work only. While appearing in court and representing their client effectively is a major part of a barrister's work, barristers can now play a wider and extended role in legal matters. Barristers can provide opinion or advice work, review and draft documents, contracts and policies, appear in mediations and various alternative dispute resolution scenarios as both counsel or mediator/arbitrator and act as an expert determiner.
What can a barrister not do?
There are certain types of work that a barrister cannot do, such as issue proceedings or file documents with the Court. The obligations surrounding the work which a barrister cannot do are set out in the Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015, which barristers must adhere to strictly.
Accordingly, if your barrister considers that a solicitor should be instructed, for whatever reason, the barrister will advise you of this as soon as possible.
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