Direct access: changing the landscape of litigation


While the solicitors’ profession has often seized the opportunity to diversify and embrace new areas of practice and new working methods, the Bar has behaved rather more traditionally, changing at an almost glacial pace. But now the Bar Standards Board (BSB) has finally announced that it will permit members of the Bar to conduct litigation from
6 January 2014



I've just finished negotiating yet another compromise agreement under the Bar Council's Direct Access provisions.

Being made redundant is a traumatic and difficult time for anyone. Whilst some may treat the termination of their employment with a sense of relief, there is often the lingering sense of abandonment, of not knowing what's around the corner. I think it's important for those of us who are responsible for fighting on behalf of our clients to remember that there are good reasons to strive for the highest settlement possible.


Some years ago I was representing a client charged with the very serious offence of causing grievous bodily harm with intent. The Prosecution alleged he used his dog as a weapon, ordering it to attack another person. It struck me that we needed to show the dog was incapable of being “used” as a weapon, and I advised we needed to instruct a canine psychologist to investigate.


It’s a really tough time for barristers at the moment, perhaps the worst ever time, but there is some hope for optimism, if we can deregulate and move with the times.

I’ve never known a time when the Government thought it was a good idea to increase Legal Aid, and pay barristers more for representing people in the criminal courts. Successive governments have slashed public funding again and again. There is no doubt those of us who still undertake some legally aided work are getting paid less than we were years ago, and not just in real terms. Actual money.