Traditionally Barristers could only be instructed ‘through a Solicitor’. They were part of a Referral Profession.
This meant that a Client wanting expert legal advice and representation could only instruct a Barrister by first instructing a Solicitor.
This also meant that the Solicitor did much of the work before the Barrister was ever consulted.
In 2004 it was decided to change these traditional rules. The aim was simple –
(1) To open up the legal marketplace, end unnecessary restrictive practices, increase competition between lawyers and reduce the costs of litigation and legal advice
(2) To allow clients to ‘bypass’ the Solicitor and instruct a Barrister direct
(3) To give clients immediate and early access to the expertise of the Bar
In its early years the Public Access Scheme went largely unnoticed. Today all that has changed. With changes to Public Funding (Legal Aid) and the recession clients are looking for more affordable legal advice than they could traditionally find on the High Street.
Clients now have a choice.
They can always go to the High Street firm – where they still exist
They can use an online service – and hope for the best
They can find one of the new ‘supermarket law firms’
Or they could brief their own Barrister.
Many clients now choose to ‘pick and mix’ the services they want or need.