|FOR THE PUBLIC|
Direct Brief a Barrister in Criminal Matters
Direct Briefing (or Direct Access) is being able to engage a barrister to appear for you in a criminal case without having to also engage a solicitor.
The difference between a Solicitor and a Barrister
Barristers are specialist advocates and advisers. Any Victorian legal practitioner is entitled to appear in any Victorian or Commonwealth court or tribunal. However, a barrister chooses to practise exclusively as an individual and completely independent specialist advocate and adviser.
Solicitors often practise in firms and have employees – and the client may see an employee who may or may not be a legal practitioner and may or may not be a partner in the firm.
Each barrister is an independent sole practitioner. The client sees the barrister – and that individual barrister gives advice; and personally appears on behalf of the client in the court or tribunal or in a mediation – or the barrister may be the mediator – taking personal responsibility for his or her work and the quality of that work.
Looking to the medical analogy, solicitors are the general practitioners; barristers are the specialists and surgeons to whom solicitors refer their clients for expert specialist advice and appearances in courts and tribunals and in mediation.
In limited circumstances, a client can come directly to a barrister – but as a general rule one comes to the expert, specialist barrister through a solicitor.
Arguably Australia's greatest jurist to date, Sir Owen Dixon said this of the role of a barrister:
It is the duty of the barrister to stand between the subject and the Crown, and between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak . . .
and because of this:
It is necessary that the barrister should be completely independent and work entirely as an individual, drawing on his [or her] own resources of learning, ability and intelligence, and owing allegiance to none.
Howells' List accepts Direct Access briefs in Criminal Matters.
The fees for Direct Access are negotiated directly with the Barristers.
Please call the Clerks Office for availability.
The Victorian Bar Incorporated Practice Rules set out the Rules for Direct Access in Part VI on page 40. See here for a copy of those rules.