CILEX advocate sets up personal injury firm regulated by BSB


Hancock: Instructed solely by other law firms

A personal injury specialist has become one of the first CILEX advocates to set up a law firm regulated by the Bar Standards Board (BSB), providing county court advocacy services.

Alec Hancock, whose indemnity insurance is provided by Bar Mutual, said he would have struggled to cover the indemnity costs of being regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) or CILEx Regulation.

Mr Hancock, who is based in Truro, said around half the work coming into AJH Advocacy Limited since it opened for business in May this year came from LinkedIn.

“It’s almost like a mid-way grade between remaining as a CILEX lawyer and becoming a barrister. As a one-man band, law firms can approach and instruct me directly.”

Mr Hancock said he specialised in personal injury cases worth from £1,000 to £25,000, where fixed costs applied and money for advocacy was scarce.

“Because I’m not a barrister, I’m not charging barristers’ rates, which is important in personal injury where many cases are subject to fixed recoverable costs. The fees for cases going into the Ministry of Justice portal are minimal.”

He could charge less for hearings than other advocates because his costs were low and he was not VAT-registered. As long as cases were in the South-West, he did not charge for travel.

“The BSB model is fantastic. It’s easy to set up and the overheads are really reasonable.”

Mr Hancock said that, if he was setting up a law firm regulated by the SRA or CILEx Regulation, the indemnity insurance costs alone would make the venture difficult to justify.

The advocate, who is sole director of AJH Advocacy, said he was instructed only by law firms and had no plans to work for individual clients on a direct access basis.

“A lot more work would be needed to support the clients. It’s a big commitment.”

He does not hold client money because he bills law firms after the work is done.

Mr Hancock also accepts instructions from law firms by working as a self-employed CILEX advocate for Quest Legal Advocates.

As well as working with legal practice course and Bar graduates, he said Quest referred work to qualified advocates who could attend county court hearings, usually solicitors or solicitor-advocates.

Mr Hancock said there were very few CILEX advocates in the South West.

“When I meet ushers at court, they often say they’ve never heard of being a CILEX advocate. One barrister told me after a court hearing: ‘I had no idea. I thought you were just like any other barrister’.”

The advocate said he began work as a fee-earner for Russell Worth Solicitors in Plymouth, before qualifying with CILEX in 2017.

After that he became a self-employed consultant, working for law firms on a fee-sharing basis.

“This gave me the flexibility to do as much work as I wanted, because I needed time and dedication to obtain advocacy rights.” Mr Hancock became a CILEX advocate in 2021.

He added that he believed that Frantz Gregory set up the first BSB entity run by a CILEX lawyer, Frantz Gregory & Co, based in Hull, back in 2018. It offers a range of civil law services, including immigration and employment. Dr Gregory has since also qualified as a solicitor.





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