Public access

What is Public Access?

Public Access (sometimes referred to as “Direct Access”) allows members of the public and commercial and non-commercial organisations to instruct barristers directly on most civil matters, without having to go through a solicitor or another qualified intermediary first.

5RB have a team of barristers from QCs to Junior Counsel licensed to undertake public access work. Our Public Access team have all completed the Bar Council’s accredited course.

The benefits of instructing 5RB on a Public Access basis is that your case will be reviewed by a specialist barrister. This could save you both time and money.

Services we offer

As specialists in defamation, privacy, media, communication, data protection, harassment, entertainment and sports law we accept instructions in appropriate circumstances from individuals and organisations (or their agents).

Members of 5RB’s Public Access team are used to dealing with individuals and organisations including broadcasters; newspapers, magazines, books and music publishers of all sizes; media, communications and sports regulatory bodies; and local authorities. We also regularly deal with public relations, media and sports agents directly.

This means that we can 

  • give expert legal advice on specific issues or disputes,
  • act in negotiations,
  • draft documents (including correspondence and statements), and
  • advise you on the best strategy and approach to be taken.

Please note that, before instructing a barrister at 5RB you should be aware that if the initial review is positive, taking the matter to litigation will most likely require the services of a solicitor’s firm. The reason for this is that barristers are currently restricted by the rules of the Bar Standards Board on how much involvement they can have in running litigation directly. For example, they cannot serve or issue documents at court or draft witness statements. Should the case proceed to court we will recommend several specialist firms of solicitors with competitive rates.

The process

If you would like to instruct a barrister via Public Access, please complete the 5RB Public Access Briefing Form attaching any relevant documentation and either email or post to the clerks at 5RB.

Upon receipt, a 5RB Public Access barrister will look at the details at no initial cost to you to establish whether the matter is suitable for Public Access. You will then be notified whether it is a matter we can pursue on your behalf or not.

If the barrister can take the matter on you will be contacted by the Clerks who will discuss the likely timescale and cost with you. All fees charged by members are handled by our experienced clerking team. Typical fee structures, depending on the type of case and the work required, include hourly rates and fixed fees.

Once a fee and timescale has been discussed , you will be sent a letter of confirmation setting out the scope of work to be completed, the applicable fee and the specific date by which the services contracted for will be provided.  If you agree with the proposed terms  you will be asked to sign the letter and return it to us.

Please note that fees will need to be paid and cleared before a member of chambers can start working on your case. All amounts will have VAT applied.

If our barrister is not prepared to take the matter on, you will be informed in writing. After each piece of work is completed, as well as before any new piece of work is accepted, the member of chambers you have instructed will continue to review and consider whether the matter remains suitable for Public Access.

If you would like to discuss the matter first, please contact one of our clerks, Andrew Love or Antony Braeger, on +44 (0)20 7242 2902. They will be happy to advise you as to which members of chambers are able to accept Public Access instructions, their seniority, availability and fee rates.

The Bar Standards Board publishes information for the public about how to instruct a barrister, which can be found here.

The two other ways to instruct barristers are as follows:

  1. Professional Client Access. Solicitors, qualified in-house lawyers and other authorised litigators may instruct barristers directly either on behalf of clients or on their own account in any matter for all types of work.
  2. Licensed Access. Licensed access is a licensing system whereby organisations or individuals who are suitable to instruct barristers because they have expertise in particular areas of law can apply to the Bar counsel to be licensed to instruct barristers directly in those areas. The licensed access licensing scheme ensures that the referrer has the skills necessary and the facilities available to instruct the Bar directly.

Members of 5RB can also undertake Professional and Licensed access work.