What is Direct Access and why should I use it?
Direct access allows you to instruct a barrister without also instructing a solicitor or accountant. Using direct access means that you can focus your financial resources on a single specialist lawyer who can represent you in court, in a tax tribunal hearing, or in dealing with HMRC on your behalf in a tax enquiry or investigation to give you a better chance of getting the result you want.
What is a Direct Access barrister?
Direct access barristers can advise members of the public direct using the public access scheme. In order to do public access work, the barrister must have completed a public access training course approved by the Bar Standards Board (“BSB”), and notified the BSB that they have done this.
It helps if the direct access barrister is also authorised by the BSB to conduct litigation, so that they can file proceedings or other applications on your behalf with the court, or take other formal steps in court or other proceedings.
Patrick Cannon is registered to accept public access work and also authorised to conduct litigation. Professionally qualified firms can also access a barrister for legal advice direct, using licensed access.
What cases are suitable for Direct Access?
In order for your case to be suitable for public access, you will need to be able to gather and organise the relevant paperwork and evidence and explain the basics of your case clearly to Patrick Cannon.
Patrick is only allowed to take on public access clients if doing so is in their best interests and in the interests of justice. There will occasionally be cases where support from a solicitor or accountant is more appropriate.
In suitable cases and to save costs, it’s a good idea to use 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.
Work that is covered by the legal aid scheme is not permitted under the public access scheme.
If you think that you might qualify to be legal aided, 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.
How do I instruct a Direct Access barrister?
Step 1 – Get in touch
Use the contact form to outline the basics of your case so that Patrick can let you know if he can assist you. If so, his clerk will give you a rough fee estimate, so that you can decide if you wish to take the matter further.
Step 2 – Confirm that you wish to proceed
Patrick may then need to ask you for further information in order to confirm that your case is suitable for public access.
Step 3 – Agree to Public Access terms of engagement
Assuming that your case is suitable for public access, Patrick Cannon’s clerk will contact you to:
- Provide a formal fee quote (which may be a fixed fee or a conditional fee)
- Provide the written terms of engagement
- Request that you supply ID for anti-money laundering purposes
- Agree a turnaround time for the work
- Confirm Patrick’s availability to attend a court or tribunal hearing or meeting – whether in person or by video call.
Patrick’s fees will be set out clearly in his terms of engagement and are payable in advance by bank transfer or by way of cheque and his clerk will then send you a VAT receipt.
Step 4 – Working with you
Patrick Cannon is dedicated to managing your case efficiently and professionally. He always aims to respond promptly and in a friendly and approachable manner.
Benefits of instructing a direct access barrister
You are likely to save on fees by instructing a direct access barrister because you won’t also have to instruct a solicitor – but it’s not just about the money. Other benefits include getting direct access to a highly experienced senior barrister who is personally responsible for your case from start to finish. Patrick Cannon’s ability to advise from experience on how to present your case to the judge will work to your benefit.
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, can represent you in court, and is thoroughly familiar with the detail, as well as setting the case strategy in liaison with you.
What areas of law can I instruct Patrick Cannon for?
As a former practising solicitor who has been a barrister for over 16 years, Patrick is well equipped to offer clients a complete legal service in relation to tax law including:
- giving initial advice
- corresponding with HMRC
- issuing tax appeals
- tax judicial reviews
- criminal tax and fraud investigations and other legal proceedings
- presenting the client’s challenge in court or tribunal
Patrick’s areas of legal practice can be found here.
A good example of the benefits of hiring a barrister directly is in tax investigations work, where having the same lawyer with you before and during an interview with HMRC allows for much greater familiarity by your lawyer.
When the time comes to deal with the subsequent proceedings and any court hearing, Patrick can navigate the nitty-gritty of an often complex factual and technical matrix of tax law.
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 can often lead to an increase in fees and a duplication of effort, as each set of professionals needs to read the papers and familiarise each other with the progress of the investigation.
If you are facing a potentially serious tax liability and penalties, it is often wiser to conserve your financial resources and hire one senior adviser who can present your case from start to finish. This will not only save you fees, but will avoid unnecessary duplication of communication and effort.
If you feel that you could benefit from a direct/public access barrister, please contact Patrick Cannon for expert legal advice and representation.