Incoming Bar chairman encourages young barristers to become accredited for direct access

Direct Access Barrister accreditation was encouraged for Junior Barristers by the incomining Bar Council chairman, Alistair MacDonald QC. He said he would promote direct access to the public when he takes office in the new year.

Mr MacDonald said that direct access to barristers provided a safer option for litigants who have been using the so-called “McKenzie friend” to assist them in court. McKenzie friends do not need to be qualified and may not have insurance. Originally, they would be used to assist on an informal basis.

“The rise of the McKenzie friend beyond any function they were supposed to meet, is of great concern,” Mr MacDonald said. He added that paid McKenzie friends were not regulated and “many, if not most” were uninsured. “I believe that many of the litigants currently paying McKenzie friends would prefer to employ the services of a fully insured and regulated junior barrister, who has carried out pupillage and has the benefit of operating from chambers if they did but know that they had that option.”

Giving his inaugural speech as incoming chairman of the Bar Council, Mr MacDonald called on “barristers, particularly at the junior end of the profession” to become qualified to accept instructions directly.

“What I undertake is that, in 2015, we will act with vigour and energy to make it clear to the general public that the Bar can be instructed directly and to seek to do everything in our power to promote the instruction of barristers qualified to receive such instructions. By doing that, I am sure we can make a substantial difference.”

Mr MacDonald said he did not believe in many cases that the Bar would be taking work from solicitors, and that “a substantial part of this work” would come from clients who would have used McKenzie Friends.

He said there was also the “ability of the Bar to assist with only parts of the case. In other words, to give advice only to the litigant with a view to helping them to concentrate on the points that really matter.

“Or it may be that the barrister can be instructed only to prepare the bundles for trial, or appear without having performed the earlier work.”

Direct Access Barrister - myBarrister