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Direct Access

Historically, members of the public, corporate clients and public bodies could only instruct a barrister by first instructing a solicitor. 5PB now has a large team of barristers who are qualified to accept instructions directly.

We accept instructions in any of our practice areas depending on availability of the barrister and the suitability of the case. Details of our practise areas can be found here. Our direct access barristers have particular expertise in fare evasion cases. 

Whilst many cases still require the combined skill of solicitors and counsel, there are a number of advantages to the Public Access Scheme, including:

  • The provision of specialist expert, professional advice and advocacy direct from counsel;
  • In many cases, a reduction in the overall cost as the additional fee for instructing a solicitor is not incurred;
  • Flexibility, in that the client decides when, and to what extent, the barrister will become involved in the case. For example, the barrister can be instructed on a piecemeal basis to carry out specific pieces of work, as and when required
The Services We Offer

Our public access qualified barristers can provide advice and assistance at any stage of proceedings, including:

  • Providing legal advice on the next steps to be taken in proceedings, or the merits and potential outcomes of your case;
  • Assisting with drafting correspondence;
  • Drafting formal court documents;
  • Advising on evidence to be collated in order to progress your case;
  • Advising on suitable experts and drafting instructions to expert witnesses;
  • Representing you in court, whether a one-off plea hearing in the magistrates’ court or longer hearings or proceedings in tribunals or in the Crown Court.

Please do contact us if you would like initial guidance as to whether the Public Access Scheme is suitable for your requirements.

All of the barristers at 5 Paper Buildings who accept public access instructions are registered with the Bar Council to conduct public access work and are regulated by the Bar Standards Board. The Bar Standards Board keeps a full register of barristers’ ‘The Barristers’ Register’ which can found here.

Eligibility for Legal Aid

Barristers cannot undertake publicly funded work under the Public Access Scheme, nor can they carry out any legal aid means test for you. If you think you may be eligible for public funding, or you have already been granted public funding for your case, our clerks can assist by recommending an appropriate firm of solicitors to assist you.

If you are eligible for legal aid but would prefer to instruct a barrister directly, you may do so on a privately funded basis. We will explain the implications of doing so, and the likely costs you will incur, once we have discussed your requirements.

How much will it cost?

The cost of instructing a barrister directly can be charged as a fixed fee, based on an hourly rate for the work to be undertaken or be based on a brief fee (a brief fee is an agreed fixed fee that covers all pre-hearing direct preparation for the case (e.g. reviewing papers, preparing cross-examinations, preparing a closing speech)) and a refresher fee (a refresher is the fixed agreed fee for any subsequent day of the hearing after the first day). Whichever fee system is agreed the fee will be  calculated according to the seniority and expertise of a specific barrister, their skills and the complexity of the work. VAT will be added where applicable. Our clerks will advise you on barristers that are suitable for your case and will provide you with an indication of the fees likely to be incurred. Fees will always be agreed with you in advance of any work undertaken by the barrister.

As a guide only, chambers barristers’ hourly rates may range as follows:

Queen’s Counsel: £400-£1200 + per hour plus VAT;

Over 15 years call (seniority): £175-£600 per hour plus VAT;

10-15 years call: £150-£400 per hour plus VAT;

5-10 years call: £100-£325 per hour plus VAT;

Below 5 years call: £50-200 per hour plus VAT.

Additional costs may include travel and/or reasonable hotel expenses dependant on the whereabouts of the court proceedings. You may incur a court fee for issuing court proceedings and fees for the instruction of an expert.

In most cases, we will require payment to be made in advance to chambers’ account for the work to be undertaken. However, in certain circumstances the manner of payment may include use of the Bar Council’s escrow account.

Instructing a Public Access Barrister

If you wish to instruct one of our public access barristers, the process is as follows:

  1. Please complete the enquiry form by clicking here, please try to include as much detail on the form as possible.
  2. Upon receipt a member of the clerking team will contact you within 48 hours the enquiry to discuss your requirements. Our working hours are: 0830-1830 Monday to Friday. If the information provided is sufficient for a barrister to agree to take on your case, an initial indication of the fee will be provided. If not, we will contact you to obtain any relevant paperwork and any further information that may be needed for a direct access trained barrister with the relevant expertise to review the instructions before providing an initial estimate of the fees.
  3. If your case is suitable for the instruction of counsel directly, a client care letter will be issued to you. This is a contract between yourself and the instructed barrister, which outlines the barrister’s role and limitations under the scheme, the scope of the instructions, the fees payable and any other conditions subject to which the work will be carried out.
  4. You will be asked to provide proof of identity and proof of address to comply with money laundering regulations. Copies will be taken and held on file.
  5. You must return a signed copy of the client care letter.
  6. Once all of the documentation is in place, your papers and instructions have been received and the relevant fee paid (where payment in advance is required), the instructions have been accepted and the barrister can proceed with your case. A timeframe for advisory work can then be agreed.

For more information about the Public Access Scheme and how it works, please see the Bar Standards Board’s public access guidance for the public here.


Timescales for a case may vary depending on factors such as barrister availability, the type and complexity of the case, witness availability and court waiting times.

If you require any further or additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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