Why Direct/Public Access?
Patrick is able to accept legal work direct from clients without them having to go through a solicitor or accountant. He is also allowed to conduct litigation so the client is not left to deal with form filling, letters, arranging witnesses and issuing legal proceedings.
As a former practising solicitor who has been a barrister for over 15 years Patrick is very well equipped to offer clients a complete legal service from giving initial advice, corresponding with HMRC, issuing appeals, judicial reviews and other legal proceedings and presenting the client’s challenge in court or tribunal.
Why instruct Patrick?
You are likely to save on fees by coming direct to a specialist public access tax barrister because you won’t also have to hire solicitors but it’s not just about the money. You get direct access to a highly experienced senior barrister who is personally responsible for your case from start to finish.
While in more complex cases Patrick may recommend hiring a junior lawyer to assist, you will always have the comfort of knowing that a single person “owns” and runs your case and is thoroughly familiar with the detail as well as setting the case strategy in liaison with you.
Give me an example?
A good example of the benefits this brings is in tax investigations work where having the same lawyer with you before and in an interview with HMRC allows for much greater familiarity by your lawyer with the nitty gritty of often an often complex factual and technical matrix when the time comes to deal with the subsequent proceedings and any court hearing.
The traditional approach of hiring different advisers with say accountants to oversee the tax investigation, solicitors to accompany you in interview and then counsel to present your defence or appeal is not only hugely expensive but leads to duplication of effort as each set of professionals needs to read the papers and familiarise each other with the progress of the investigation.
That approach is ideal if you have the money to throw at the matter and there’s no denying that it can be comforting to sit in court with three teams of advisers beside you and to listen to them debating the case. My advice if you do that is just don’t think about your teams’ collective hourly rate.
On the other hand if you are facing a potentially serious tax liability and penalties you may be thinking about conserving your financial resources and hiring one senior adviser who can present you case from start to finish will not only save you fees but will avoid unnecessary duplication of communication and effort.
Are all cases suitable for direct/public access?
Barristers are not allowed to take on public access clients unless doing so is in both the client’s best interests and in the interests of justice. So there will occasionally be cases where it is not appropriate and I might recommend to clients that support from a solicitor or accountant be obtained.
However, in suitable cases and to save costs I will recommend using a provider of Public Access Legal Support service (PALS), which is a specialised paralegal resource designed for barristers and clients who work together within the framework of the Public Access Scheme.
Do you do work covered by Legal Aid?
This is not permitted under the Public Access Scheme and if you think that you might qualify for legal aid you should consider very carefully whether to seek help under that scheme instead of using public access. For more information, read the Government’s guidance on who qualifies for legal aid.