A criminal law barrister has launched a direct access website to facilitate private prosecutions by people with cases that the Crown Prosecution Service and police have failed to pursue. He said his website had generated five cases already after being up and running only “a couple of months”.
The chief executive of a pioneering set of direct access chambers has said victory in a group action at the Court of Appeal proves barristers can “cut out the intermediaries”. Carla Morris-Papps said direct access had meant “massive savings” for over 200 clients because the case had not gone through solicitors.
Ignorance about fees, lack of public awareness and “excessive correspondence” from clients are just some of the challenges faced by direct access barristers, a major report by the Bar Standards Board and Legal Services Board has revealed. However, the “overwhelming consensus” was that direct access work would grow in the next few years.
A direct access service providing the public and businesses with fixed-fee unbundled access to barristers, claims to have doubled its turnover in each of the last two years and expects to grow next year. Absolute Barrister has also designed what it says is the first case management system for direct access work.
Online divorce and probate are set to be delivered under the courts modernisation programme by early 2017, the president of the Family Division has said. Sir James Munby also called on family barristers to adopt new working practices, including direct access, unbundling and fixed fees.
A barrister who told a direct access client he had “all the same freedoms” as a solicitor to conduct litigation, when he did not, has lost a High Court appeal against his three-month suspension. Garnham J described Oliver White’s misconduct as “serious”.
Clerksroom Direct, which has over 1,000 direct access barristers on its books, has said that only around only 20% of its recent cases have come directly from members of the public. Half came from law firms and the rest from barristers’ chambers.
A leading QC is to take part in a pioneering free direct access video surgery later this month. Stephen Harvey QC will be discussing business risk and regulation via a new online video platform. The approach has also won the backing of the Bar Council.
Clerksroom Direct, the online service matching direct access barristers to members of the public, has had 170 approaches so far this month, with half converting to paid work at higher average rates than expected, it has emerged.
A commercial barrister who was fined by a Bar disciplinary tribunal earlier this month for handling £5,000 of client money, faces suspension after a second tribunal found that he later handled a further £400,000 from another direct access client.