What is a Barrister?
A barrister is a type of lawyer who spends most of their time on matters relating to court or tribunal cases. As barristers usually focus on matters relating to court processes, so they are far more likely to work on complex or high-profile cases.
Lawyers, barristers, and solicitors
The term “lawyer” is a generic term that refers to any qualified legal professional. Lawyers are qualified to give legal advice in one or more fields of law, but aren’t necessarily highly specialised in any particular field. A solicitor is a type of lawyer who provides legal advice and assistance to clients and who may also represent their client in court when necessary. On the other hand, a barrister focuses specifically on matters relating to litigation and court processes, and is more likely to work on complicated or high-profile cases.
How does a barrister become involved in a case?
In the UK, the law dictates that legal matters should be resolved out of court whenever possible. Alternatives such as arbitration, mediation, and collaborative law are common methods of resolving disputes. The courts are involved only when these methods fail, or if there’s a good reason why they are not appropriate.
In any given case, a solicitor can retain the services of a barrister when they feel that it’s necessary in order to represent the best interests of their client. For instance, if alternative methods don’t produce a resolution and a case goes to court, a solicitor is likely to involve a barrister in the case if a high level of courtroom expertise is needed.
In addition, it’s sometimes possible to contact a barrister directly without having to retain the services of a solicitor first. Prior to 2004 this was not the case, as the public could not directly contact a barrister to retain their services. However, it’s important to note that not all barristers can be contacted this way, as many still work by using a solicitor as an intermediary.
English barristers are subject to what’s known as the cab rank rule, which states that a barrister is obliged to accept any work they are offered in a field in which they are competent. In practical terms, this means a barrister cannot pick-and-choose the cases they work, and cannot refuse to work on a case if they find the case or the client to be objectionable in some way. This helps ensure that barristers remain independent, and also ensures that any given client cannot be refused their right to representation.
Generally, the only reason a barrister can refuse a case is if taking it on would lead to a conflict of interest. For instance, a barrister could not represent a defendant if they were already representing the claimant involved in that case.
What do barristers do?
Barristers often specialise in particular areas of law, and the work they do varies according to their area of expertise. In general, the duties of a barrister centre on advocating for and representing the best interests of their client, typically in a courtroom situation, or in preparation for court. This may include:
- Provide advice to a client on the laws that apply to their case, and the strength of their case under the law. They will also provide a written opinion on their case and various aspects of it.
- Receiving and acting on instructions from a client, whether the client is a solicitor or a member of the public.
- Drafting and filing documents, preparing witnesses, researching evidence, and other tasks to prepare for the courtroom.
- Representing the client in court and advocating on their behalf. This includes presenting the case and evidence, examining their client’s witnesses, and cross-examining witness for the other side.
- Depending on the nature of the case and its outcome they may also negotiate with the other side to reach a settlement.
Where Can I Find A Barrister?
Barristers often belong to a chamber of barristers so by visiting a reputable organisation such as this Barristers Chambers in London you will be able to view profiles plus get advice about the most suitable individual for your particular legal requirements.