The Public and Licensed Access schemes allow lay clients to instruct barristers directly without first instructing a solicitor or other lawyer.
Licensed Access – This allows members of a professional organisation, companies, firms and other organisations to instruct a barrister directly, provided they have a licence to instruct counsel from the Bar Standards Board.
Public Access (also sometimes known as direct access)– This allows members of the public, commercial and non-commercial organisations to be able to instruct barristers directly on most civil matters. Barristers in Minerva Chambers do not accept instructions from members of the public. We only accept advice from those who in financial regulatory terms would be classified as “Professional Clients”. If you are in any doubt as to whether you meet this qualification, please discuss this with the barrister that you wish to instruct or the Head of Chambers. From our perspective, the schemes do not fundamentally change the role of a barrister as a specialist adviser, and so there are limits on what we can do. We need to be satisfied that all clients can undertake certain tasks which we are not authorised to undertake, and we have taken the view that clients who meet the “Professional Client” criteria are the most suitable. If you are in any doubt as to whether we can help you or you want to obtain a quotation or discuss your matter please contact the barrister you wish to instruct. If we can help you we will discuss timescales for the work and explain the rationale for those timescales. There are many factors which affect timescales such as barristers’ availability, the complexity and value of your matter, the need for additional documents and the approach of the other side if you are involved in a contested matter.
The definition of “Professional Client” can be found in COBS 3.5 of the Financial Conduct Authority Handbook which is available here.