Public access

Instruct us directly

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

What is Public Access?

You can  instruct 5RB directly. Members of the public and commercial and non-commercial organisations are now able to instruct barristers directly on most civil matters. Bar Council rules changed in 2004 to allow members of the public to instruct barristers directly without going through a solicitor or another qualified intermediary first. This is known as Public Access.

Benefits to you

  • Initial review of your case by one of 5RB’s specialists
  • This saves you 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 5RBs 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)
  • 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.

Contact us

If you would like to instruct a barrister through Public Access please fill in the attached Public Access Briefing Form giving us details of your case. Once complete please send it to the Clerks via e-mail , fax +44(0)20 7831 2686 or by post.

The process

Complete the 5RB Public Access Briefing Form attaching any relevant documentation and either email or post the 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 qualifies for Public Access. You will then be notified whether it is a matter we can pursue on your behalf or not.

  1. If the barrister can take the matter on you will be contacted by the Clerks who will discuss timescale and cost with you. Once a fee for the work and timescale is agreed you will be sent a letter of confirmation with our terms and conditions. If you agree with the content you will be asked to sign the letter and return it to us. Please note that fees will need to clear before any advice can be provided.
  2. One of the clerking team will inform you when the barrister has completed the work, you will then be asked to transfer the agreed fee to 5RB‘s public access bank account or send a cheque to the individual barrister. Once received the completed advice will be emailed or posted to you. If our barrister is not prepared to take the matter on, you will be informed in writing.This will not be formal advice and you won’t be charged for it. If you wish the barrister to expand on the note this will become a chargeable advice for which a fee will be required.

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 on 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.

What clients said about our public access service:

“Although I am a retired solicitor, I had absolutely no experience in defamation and used the public access scheme to hire a barrister directly. I duly instructed Godwin Busuttil. His advice and guidance was thorough and comprehensive. Indeed, it led to an award of costs in my favour and all claims against me being withdrawn. I found the Clerks at 5RB courteous and very efficient. I am really grateful to counsel and the Clerks for their help.”  Mr Wynne Pearce

“Most potential clients thinking of approaching a barrister on a public access basis do so not knowing quite what to expect and with a sense of anxiety about the legal process in which they have become entangled. From the outset 5RB impressed and did so from clerk to principle. My initial inquiry was dealt with efficiently and with sensitivity. The response was rapid and detailed, providing me with a clear understanding of what to expect and breaking the process down into clear stages. The quality of the legal advice was both exemplary and flexible. My case had some twists and turns, but my barrister approached all aspects with admirable candour, realism and a sharp legal mind. I could not have wished for better representation.” Professor John Holmwood

Help with Costs: After the Event Insurance (ATE) for clients of Public Access Barristers

“Interest in Public Access is growing exponentially. Clients will however be concerned about the costs of legal action, the significance of an Adverse Costs Award should the claim be unsuccessful and the ability to insure such costs. Clients need to know the potential risks and rewards; most importantly they need “costs certainty”.
EFM Specialist Risks LLP are the leaders in this field and are a Bar Council Service Partner.
EFM have been established for almost 20 years and specialise in niche insurance schemes. They have been at the forefront of insurance innovation in the banking, telecommunications, veterinary, accountancy and tax planning sectors.
After The Event Insurance for a Public Access client can cover:

  • An Opponent’s legal costs and disbursements.
  • The Claimant’s own disbursements such as court fees and expert witness fees.
  • An Opponent’s insurance premium (if applicable).

Furthermore the premium itself is normally insured which means that if a case is lost the premium is not payable. If a case is successful the premium is normally recoverable. For more information click here to visit”
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 direct.

The members of 5RB accredited to undertake public access work are:

Desmond Browne QC

Justin Rushbrooke QC

Christina Michalos QC

William Bennett QC

Adam Speker QC

Jonathan Barnes

Godwin Busuttil

Jacob Dean

Richard Munden

David Hirst

Victoria Simon-Shore

Victoria Jolliffe

Felicity McMahon

Jonathan Scherbel-Ball

Gervase de Wilde

Julian Santos

Greg Callus

John Stables

Please contact our clerks, who will be happy to assist you in identifying the appropriate member of chambers for your needs.