Barristers trail solicitor-advocates in family law cases

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Jul 12, 2017
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People in family disputes also said they had a better relationship with their barrister if they instructed them directly, though few did so

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Solicitor-advocates are far more likely than barristers to act for clients in family law court hearings, research from the Bar’s regulator shows.

Figures released yesterday by the Bar Standards Board show that only about a third of clients instruct barristers when a dispute goes to court. The regulator pointed out that as most family law matters requiring legal advice never go to court, only 13 per cent of those involved used a barrister.

However, the board’s report offered some hope for the family Bar. Its researchers found that while the proportion of clients using the public access scheme for family law barristers was low, those that did had a “stronger barrister/client relationship”. The board said that those clients who instructed barristers directly without going through a solicitor “were more likely to access a greater range of services from their barrister, and all of those who used this approach would use the scheme again”.

According to the researchers, some clients referred by solicitors highlighted the limited contact they had with their barrister before going to court. The board said that “led to problems with the service they received, such as the barrister not providing enough information to the client, or the barrister not having all the details they needed to provide effective representation”.

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