The difference between the services offered by a barrister and a solicitor

17. The historic difference between what a barrister does and what a solicitor does has become less obvious over the last few years. However, barristers specialise in providing expert legal advice, advocacy in court and the drafting of documents. Solicitors normally give advice to and draft documents for their clients or may instruct a barrister to provide this service. In a public access case you will need to perform these roles yourself.

18. By law, barristers are not able to provide some of the services that solicitors offer, such as conducting litigation, and they are not allowed to handle client money. Your barrister will advise you if they consider that anything you want done is something which only a solicitor can provide.

19. The following are some examples of work which a barrister is allowed to do. For more information contact: the Professional Practice Team on 020 7611 1444 4 a. A barrister may appear on your behalf at court. b. A barrister may give you legal advice. c. A barrister may draft legal documents for you, such as a will or statement of claim. d. A barrister may advise you on the formal steps which need to be taken in proceedings before a court or other organisation and draft formal documents for use in those proceedings. e. A barrister may draft and send letters on your behalf. f. If a witness statement from you is required in proceedings, a barrister may prepare that statement from what you tell them. A barrister may also help to prepare witness statements from another person based on the information which that person has provided. g. Where a case requires an expert witness (for example, a surveyor who can provide evidence of a technical or professional nature), a barrister may advise you on the choice of a suitable expert and may draft a letter of instruction which you can then send to the expert as a letter from you on your own notepaper. h. Barristers can negotiate on your behalf and can attend employment, police or investigative hearings where appropriate.

20. The following are examples of work that a barrister is not allowed to do. a. A barrister cannot file proceedings on your behalf with the court or file other applications, or take other formal steps in court or other proceedings. These actions, technically, constitute conducting litigation, which barristers are currently prohibited from doing. You will have to send the documents to the court, although the barrister could help prepare them for you. b. A barrister is not allowed to instruct an expert witness on your behalf (again, this would amount to conducting litigation). c. A barrister is not allowed to handle clients’ money (by comparison, solicitors can hold client money in the firm’s trust account).

Does a barrister need special training to take public access work?

21. Yes. Before a barrister can accept public access work they must satisfy number of conditions. Subject to limited exceptions, before a barrister is permitted to accept public access work they must: a. be properly qualified by having more than three years’ standing; b. have undertaken a “public access” training course approved by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) through which they will demonstrate that they have the necessary knowledge, understanding and skills to conduct such work; and For more information contact: the Professional Practice Team on 020 7611 1444 5 c. have notified their regulator (the BSB) that they wish to offer public access services. 

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