New bar association launched to raise direct access awareness

A new barristers’ association is to be launched to promote direct access to the bar.

The Public Access Bar Association (PABA) will aim to encourage the Bar Council to improve public awareness of the option to instruct a barrister before using a solicitor.

PABA will represent the hundreds of barristers who registered in July 2004 to take on work directly from the public without having to go through a law firm.

Marc Beaumont of Windsor Chambers, the acting PABA chairman pending committee appointments, said that there is a high level of public ignorance when it comes to direct access.

Beaumont said: “Direct instruction can, and often does, save clients the unnecessary cost of using two lawyers in the very many situations where direct instruction of the bar is possible.”

The news follows a recent survey, commissioned by Hardwicke Building, which showed that there is a lack of knowledge about direct access.

The survey revealed that a little over a third of businesses have thought about instructing barristers directly, with 40 per cent saying that they would not even contemplate it.

Bar Council chair Geoffrey Vos QC said: “More information on accessing legal services would be welcome and we will strive to achieve this.”