The barrister’s fees...
A barrister’s fees are in many cases similar and in some cases less than those of a solicitor. A barrister is more likely to work on a fixed fee basis, particularly when providing advice or attending a court hearing. If it is felt more appropriate then the barrister may work on the basis of an hourly rate, usually providing a prior fee indication. In practice, barristers are extremely flexible on fees.
In most cases discussions concerning fees will take place between you and the barrister’s clerk. The agreed fee will then be recorded in the barrister’s written terms of work.
There are various ways in which you can fund your barrister’s fees. The most obvious way is to agree a fixed fee for the work and to pay that fee on delivery of the papers (instructions) to the barrister. A barrister is not permitted to hold client money and most barristers will require payment before they undertake the work. This means that in practice payment is usually made when the instructions are delivered.
If the barrister is working on an hourly rate then payments may be made as the work is undertaken. Alternatively, your barrister may offer to your money in a special account (‘Escrow’) with funds being released for fees when they become due.
If funds are not readily available you may qualify for Legal Aid or you may be able to obtain litigation funding from a specialist lender.
The circumstances in which Legal Aid is available are now quite restricted but if you think you may qualify for Legal Aid then you should approach a solicitor. If you qualify for Legal Aid then it will also cover the fees of your solicitor at legal aid rates and may also cover the fees of a barrister. In those circumstances Direct Access may not be the best option for you unless the solicitor’s fees are still likely to be considerable.
Litigation funding is now offered by a variety of funding companies at commercial rates.