There is no set scale of fees charged by barristers and the fee is usually negotiated by the solicitor on your behalf. However, as of the 7th October 2019 the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 part 10 Chapter 3 demands a certain level of detail to enhance clarity and transparency for both you, the client, and the barrister in relation to legal costs.
The statutory duties of barristers in relation to legal costs are set out as follows:
Under Section 150 of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015, on receiving instructions, barristers are required to provide you with a notice which discloses in writing the amount of legal costs that will be incurred, or at the very least to set out the basis on which the legal costs are to be calculated. These will include:
The time and labour involved in carrying out such work.
The complexity, novelty or difficulty of the matter.
The urgency of the matter.
The level of skill or specialised knowledge required to deal with the matter.
Obtaining such an estimate will allow you, and your solicitor, to shop around to ensure that you obtain the best representation in terms of quality and price.
If the barrister becomes aware of any factor that would make it likely that there will be a significant increase in the costs, the barrister is obliged to notify you as soon as he or she becomes aware of that factor. Further, you must be notified as to the likely legal and financial consequences of you withdrawing from the litigation; the circumstances in which you would be likely to be required to pay the costs of one or more other parties; and, the circumstances in which it would be likely that the costs of the barrister would not be fully recovered from the other parties.
The notice must allow for a ‘‘cooling off’’ period of no more than ten working days in order to allow you time to consider the costs and the associated financial risks before committing to the legal services of the barrister. During the ‘‘cooling off’’ period, the barrister must not provide any legal service in relation to the matter, unless — in the professional opinion of the barrister, not to provide those legal services would constitute a contravention of a statutory requirement or the rules of court or would prejudice the rights of the client in a manner that could not later be remedied; or a court orders the barrister to provide legal services to the client.
Section 151 of the Act allows you and your barrister to enter into a written agreement concerning the amount, and the manner of payment, of all or part of the legal costs payable by you to the barrister. Provided the agreement includes all the particulars required under Section 150 there is no need for the barrister to provide you with the notice referred to under that section.
Under Section 152, a barrister, as soon as is practicable after concluding the provision of legal services, must provide you with a bill of costs. Section 152 sets out the details that should be contained in the bill of costs. There is also a requirement on the barrister to provide to you, along with the bill of costs, an explanation of the procedure available should you wish to dispute any aspect of the bill of costs, which may include—
• discussing the matter with the barrister,
• referring the dispute to mediation, and
• applying for adjudication of legal costs
Note: Where your legal rights have been vindicated by a court, the other side may be ordered to pay your costs.
Traditionally, barristers are keen to ensure that no one is left without proper representation simply because of their means. They provide services under both the Criminal and Civil Legal Aid Schemes which in some cases involves appearing for a client at less than the normal commercial rate and at no cost to the client.
The Bar of Ireland also operates a pro bono scheme, which works through certain charities and non-governmental organisations, where some barristers volunteer to do deserving cases for no fee. Cases cannot be taken directly from members of the public. Please see the Voluntary Assistance Scheme section of this website for further information.