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Public Access

There are two ways for members of the public to instruct a barrister direct. Firstly, under the Public Access Scheme or, secondly, via licensed access. Of these, licensed access is probably the most appropriate for our readers.

Licensed Access

Individuals or organisations with expertise in specialist areas of the law are able to apply to the Bar Standards Board to be licensed to instruct barristers direct. If successful, the licence holder is permitted to instruct any members of the Bar, whether or not they are members of the Public Access Scheme (see below).

In order to obtain a licence you need to apply to the Access to the Bar Committee. In deciding whether to issue a licence the committee will look at the type of work you wish to refer to a barrister, your expertise and experience, your familiarity with any relevant area of the law, and your ability to obtain and prepare information for the barrister.

A wide range of organisations and individuals are able to apply for a licence under the scheme. Examples include accountants, banks, charities, insurers, insolvency practitioners, educational bodies, unions, public authorities, and professional associations.

The Public Access Scheme

Barristers who have signed up for the Public Access Scheme can be instructed by anyone. In our tables, they are indicated by an against their name. The main advantage of using this scheme is financial. You don't have the added cost of engaging a solicitor. Barristers enrolled under this scheme are permitted to handle all cases, with the notable exception of those funded by legal aid.