myBarrister lays on seminar for direct access barristers

“Barristers who want to do direct access work have to understand that they need to be more commercial and business-savy. They have to get used to dealing with the money side of the service.” This was the key message of an outstanding presentation about direct access delivered by Andrew Miller QC on 7th May at Lincoln’s Inn to an audience of direct access barristers.

The talk was sponsored by Augusta, Amtrust and myBarrister.

Andrew Miller, who is registered on myBarrister, outlined several practical steps that barristers wishing to do direct access work should do. He said that barristers should first read the documents on the Bar Standards Board website, which detailed the professional responsibility of barristers doing direct access work and what direct access clients can expect of their barristers.

He addressed the main practical issues that arise when a barrister is instructed directly. Much of the approach would be very similar to the approach taken when instructed by solicitors, he explained. So, barristers will offer the merits of the case on which they have been asked to advise and on the commercial reality of the case.

However, he concentrated his talk on funding. How barristers were going to get paid is not just an obvious consideration, it is a matter of duty, he said. He emphasised that this should be addressed right at the outset and not well into accepting the instruction.

Andrew then outlined the various options with advantages and disadvantages in each case.

You can see the full Seminar below:

Conditional Fee Arrangements (CFAs): CFAs are easy to explain and simple to understand, but there has not been a big take-up among barristers, as has also been the case with Damages-based Agreements.

After the Event Insurance (ATE): This type of funding is being increasingly adopted, not just in personal injury cases but increasingly in commercial cases. One previous disadvantage has been high premiums but, with the increased used of litigation funding together with ATE, premiums were coming down which made this a more attractive option.

Litigation Funding: the basic idea behind litigation funding is that, in return for a percentage of damages that are eventually won, the funder will put up the costs of fighting the case upfront. There is no typical arrangement: some funders will expect a contribution, for example, or they may insist on ATE insurance, or the funding may be staged. Andrew recommended shopping around for the best deal.

Escrow schemes: Escrow schemes (where money is held by a third party) are useful since barristers are not permitted to hold clients’ money on account.  This helps to deal with the situation where clients are not willing to pay money upfront. Andrew spoke about the BARCO scheme, which is an escrow account, but which charges 2 per cent for every transaction.  

He said it made it more sense for clients to pay the whole estimated amount of the barrister’s fees into the BARCO scheme.  If the eventual fees came to less than that paid in, the client would recover the difference.

He concluded by saying that direct access is only going to grow.

By viewing the seminar video you can get 1 CPD point. Please email us on [email protected] your name and email so that this can be processed.