Direct Professional Access

How to instruct Counsel directly

Members or officers of approved professional bodies should plan and give thought to their instructions and give them to Counsel (the barrister) in writing. The quality of the advice which Counsel can give is very much dependent on the quality of the instructions.

Guidelines for instructing Counsel.

A barrister must receive adequate instructions, normally setting out in concise booklet form the nature of the issue and the advice needed.

The booklet should be indexed and, as far as possible, contain all of the relevant documents.

The nature of legal advice means that barristers can often give the best advice when they can base it on a detailed consideration of documents. It is often unsatisfactory to present synopses of legal documents in place of the documents themselves. (Please note, you should never send Counsel original documents – send them copies and keep the originals.)

The case information you send to Counsel should include details of:

  1. on whose behalf you are looking for the barrister’s opinion;
  2. the factual background; and
  3. what you want to use the opinion or the advice for.

If you have researched the issue, you should include all information, case law and materials that you think are relevant.

If you need the work done by a deadline, this should be made clear in your written instructions or discussed with Counsel.

Consultations are often useful to make clear the subtleties of the issues before Counsel prepares their opinion.

Once you have paid Counsel fees for the opinion, the property of the opinion belongs to you. However, if you intend to publish the opinion or circulate it widely, you must get permission in advance from Counsel.

It might be useful for approved bodies to provide guidance to their members about the DPA scheme. The Chairman of the External Relations Committee of the Bar Council will be pleased to help.

Please use the Law Library website “Search for a barrister” facility to find Counsel who take on DPA work. This has a check box for barristers who carry out this work.