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Public access agreement letter

 

Our Ref:


 

Dear


 

Re:
Thank you for your [letter of ...[insert date]] [phone call on ... [insert date]].

I would be pleased to accept instructions from you on the terms set out in this letter. It is important that you understand what these are. It is also important that you understand that I cannot do legal aid work unless I have been instructed by a solicitor.

If you agree with the proposed arrangement, please sign the enclosed copy of this letter and return it to me to record your agreement either by email or post.

The basis on which I carry out professional work

  1. I am the only person you are instructing and I personally will do all the work needed under this arrangement. I am a sole practitioner although I practise with other barristers from a set of Chambers (barristers’ offices). 

  2. If for any reason I cannot carry out all the work you are instructing me to do, or if I want to suggest that another barrister (instead of me, or as well as me) carries out the work for you, my clerk or I may propose this. However, another barrister will not carry out work for you unless and until you have agreed to an arrangement and have instructed the other barrister. If you feel that you would be happier with the services provided by an organisation (rather than an individual), you need to instruct a firm of solicitors. 

  3. If the instructions include or are likely to include a brief for a specified day, there may be times when my professional commitments clash. If I identify a possible clash of commitments (meaning that I will not be able to work on your case), I will try my best to do the following.
    • (1)  Warn you as soon as possible and ask you how you would prefer to continue. As a result, it would be helpful if you would give me a phone number where I would always be able to contact you. 

    • (2)  Suggest the name of another barrister within my Chambers (of a suitable level of seniority and expertise), who is willing to accept your case under the same terms as this agreement. You would then need to decide whether you want to instruct that barrister. 

    • (3)  Help you find a barrister from other Chambers if there is not a suitable barrister within my Chambers, or if you do not want my Chambers to continue working on your case. 

    • (4)  Discuss with you the costs of using another barrister. 


The work I will carry out

  1. The work you are instructing me to carry out is [insert]

   

  1. If subsequent work is needed on this matter, there will be another letter of agreement between us.
  2. Because I carry out all my work personally and cannot predict what other professional responsibilities I may have in the future, I cannot at this stage undertake that I shall be able to accept instructions for all subsequent work that your case may need.

The range of work I can carry out

  1. I should explain to you the range of the work that barristers carry out, as well as the type of work they do not. Barristers advise on the law, draft documents for clients to use, and appear on behalf of their client before courts or other organisations. Barristers do not handle client money or undertake the administrative management of a case proceeding through a court. 

  1. For example: 

  2. I can draft letters on your behalf and send them by post;
  3. I can appear on your behalf to argue your case at court or at a tribunal hearing; 

  4. If a witness statement is needed from you, I can draft it from what you tell me;
  5. I can advise you on the need for expert evidence and on the choice of a 
suitable expert. However I may not instruct them on your behalf. 

  6. As you are instructing me without a solicitor, you must be sure that:
    • You are able to do whatever is necessary for those matters that I cannot deal with; or
    • You have made an arrangement with another person of suitable competence and experience to provide these services for you.

Circumstances when I may not be able to act for you

  1. In all my professional work I must follow the Bar Code of Conduct. As a result, if I consider that a solicitor needs to be instructed in your own interests or for some other professional reason, I will no longer be able to act for you other than on the instructions of a solicitor. If I foresee that situation arising, I will give you as much notice as possible.

Legal Aid

  1. It is possible that you may be eligible for public funding or “legal aid” as it is usually referred to. However, as a barrister I cannot do legal aid work unless I have been instructed by a solicitor. If you want to talk to someone in more detail about getting legal aid, you should contact a solicitor who does legal aid work. They will be able to advise you about legal aid arrangements relating to civil cases e.g. where you are in dispute with another individual or organisation and criminal cases e.g. where a crime may have been committed. 

  2. You can find out more information on the gov.uk. Website: https://www.gov.uk/community-legal-advice 

  3. If you wish to be assessed for legal aid for a civil case you can contact Community Legal Advice. This is a service which provides advice about family, debt, benefits, housing, education or employment problems. You can call them on: 0845 345 4345. You can also use their online legal aid calculator. This is a tool which allows you to check whether you can get legal aid for your case, if it is a civil case. This tool allows you to get online advice and can help you find a legal adviser near you: 
http://legalaidcalculator.justice.gov.uk/calculators/eligiCalc?execution=e2s1 


     

  1. If you do not qualify for legal aid, you might like to consider whether you have any insurance policies that might cover your legal fees, or if the fees may be paid by someone else, for example a trade union. 

  2. I can advise and represent you if:
    • you make an informed decision not to seek public funding; 

    • you make a public funding application, e.g. you have applied to get legal aid to help fund your case, that is rejected; 

    • you do not wish to take up an offer of public funding (perhaps because you consider that the level of contribution you will be required to make is too much). 

  3. In signing these terms, you confirm that you have been informed that you may be eligible for public funding and where you can find further information. You are choosing to instruct me without the benefit of any public funding that may be available to you. 


My availability

  1. As I carry out all my professional work personally, there may be times when I am not available to you. For example, if I am in court for a day or for several days in a row, I may be unavailable to other clients during that time.

Fees

  1. [Option 1: My fee for the advisory and drafting work described in paragraph ... will be a fixed fee of £.... plus VAT (where applicable). You and I agree that I will not send to you the work you have instructed me to draft until you have paid the fee.] 
[Option 2: My fee for accepting the instruction to appear as an advocate on the occasion described in paragraph ... will be £.... plus VAT(where applicable). You and I agree that I will not go to the hearing unless you have paid the fee in advance. If for any reason the case takes longer than one day, I will charge an extra fee of £ ... per day plus VAT(where applicable). 
[Option 3: At the moment, I do not know how much work will be involved in your instructions. As a result, I cannot quote you a fixed fee at this stage. So I will charge you on a time basis at £... an hour plus VAT(where applicable). I will not carry out work that will cost you more than £... plus VAT without your permission. When I have finished the paperwork you have instructed me to draft, I will tell you how much the fee is. You and I agree that I will not send you the work until you have paid the fee.] 

  2. Under this contract, you are responsible for paying my fees. Please arrange for payment to be made by BACS 


A/C Name: Bank: Branch:
Sort Code: A/C Number:

  1. If you owe me any fees and do not pay them for more than three months after I give you a fee note, interest will be payable at 2% above Bank of England base rate from 28 days of the date of the fee note.

Documents

  1. You and I agree that:
(1) I am entitled to keep copies of any documents you give me for my own professional records; and

(2) I will return all your original documents to you when I have carried out the work you have instructed me to do.

I would prefer that you give me copies of documents rather than originals. However, if this is not possible, I may make a reasonable charge to you for producing photocopies.

General obligations

  1. The information which you give me will be received in professional confidence. The only exception is that statutory and other legal requirements may cause me to disclose information which I have received from you to governmental or other regulatory authorities and to do so without first obtaining your consent to such disclosure or telling you that I have made it. 

  2. The contract we are making between us will be governed by English law, and any dispute will be subject to the jurisdiction of the English courts. 


Complaints

  1. I hope you will be happy with the professional services I provide. . However, if you are not satisfied you should first refer the matter to my Chambers’ Practice Director in line with my Chambers’ complaints procedure. The full procedure can be found at [insert our link to my website]. If you need any assistance or require clarification of any points within it, please e mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

  2. If you remain dissatisfied following the outcome of our internal complaints procedure, then you may complain to: 
Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ 


Yours sincerely

 

«BarName»

By signing this agreement you agree to instruct counsel under the terms of this agreement Signed by:
Print Name: