Logistics business the Stobart Group – home of the famous Eddie Stobart lorry fleet – has today launched a new service to link members of the public and businesses direct to a barrister without needing to employ a solicitor.
It is by some distance the most unexpected development so far in the post-Legal Services Act world.
Stobart Barristers, which offers access to a UK-wide network of specialist barristers for any area of law, uses a pricing model under which its clients agree and pay a fixed-fee through a ‘pay-as-you-go’ model during the litigation process.
The new division, headed up by the group’s legal director Trevor Howarth, has been formed following Stobart’s decision to employ its own barristers without a solicitor in 2008, a move which the company said has created “significant savings”.
Research for Stobart Barristers found that just 14% were aware of direct public access to barristers and only 22% said they would know how to engage with a barrister without using a solicitor. It also found that 55% of UK adults said they would not pursue legal action due to uncertainty over the cost.
Once a client has received a barrister’s opinion, which the service would typically look to deliver in under seven days, its sister company Stobart Barrister Support Services can provide the necessary paralegal support to help a barrister prepare their case instead of a solicitor.
Overall, Stobart says that its fixed-fee model of delivering barrister’s services will be up to 50% cheaper than if provided via a solicitor.
Stobart Barristers said it also provides one of the few ways for members of the public to pay for a barrister’s service as despite the introduction of public access, barristers are still not allowed to accept fees direct from members of the public.
Trevor Howarth, Stobart Barristers’ managing director, said: “This is a new market for the group and one where we see significant potential to grow by offering the public the chance to benefit from a model we have successfully honed for our own business over the past few years…
“Our model cuts out waste and opens up access to a national panel of barristers that are selected for their ability to meet our clients’ needs.”
The Populus research also revealed that 36% of people said they had not pursued legal action because of feeling out of control of the litigation process