FAQs

These Questions and Answers are primarily directed at public access clients, but others may find them useful. If you have any questions which are not set out below, then please use the button at the bottom of the page to get in touch.


  • What does ‘public access’ or ‘direct access’ mean? 

These phrases are interchangeable. They refer to barristers who have undertaken special training which allows them to accept instructions direct from members of the public so that the client does not have to go via a solicitor. Instructing a solicitor as well as a barrister, rather than dealing with the case yourself,  will usually incur additional time and money.  


  • Can I instruct a barrister without having to instruct a solicitor first?

Yes, so long as the barrister is permitted to accept instructions direct from members of the public. CityGate Chambers Limited is permitted to accept instructions direct from members of the public. This is called 'public access' or 'direct access'.


  • How much do you charge?   

Wherever possible, we operate on the basis of fixed fees. That gives our clients the comfort of knowing that the amount they have to pay to us will not spiral out of control. 


Most lawyers are very bashful about publicising their prices. We are not – we take a transparent and open approach. Our work, whether charged on a fixed fee basis or not, is charged at an hourly rate of £210 (excluding any applicable VAT). All fees from public access clients must be paid in advance. However, we are happy to be flexible when agreeing fees with our clients and often tailor our services to reflect a client's budget.


Depending on the nature of the case, we will consider working on the basis of a Conditional Fee Agreement under which our fees will be £x if you win your case, or £y (a lower figure) if you lose it. How much you actually pay depends on how much work you ask us to do. Subject always to the fact that we are not allowed to conduct litigation, you can ask us to do as much or as little as you like – from drafting a letter to attending a trial as your advocate.

 

  • How do I pay?

Payment needs to be made by bank transfer or cheque. We do not accept cash payments or payments by card.

 

  • Can I pay money on account of your fees?   

No. Paying fees on account means that we would be holding your money. Like all other barristers and chambers, CityGate Chambers Limited is not permitted to hold client money.


  • Can you pay fees to others on my behalf, like fees for experts’ reports and court fees?

No. If we were to do this, that would be the same as holding your money. Like all other barristers and chambers, CityGate Chambers Limited is not permitted to hold client money.


  • Can I deal with the case myself and only instruct you for the bits I’m not comfortable with doing myself? 

Yes. Subject to the fact that we are not permitted to conduct litigation, you can instruct us to do as much or as little as you need.


Conducting litigation includes doing things like issuing court proceedings or applications, formally sending things to (or receiving things from) court or an opponent, giving their address for service and signing off on a disclosure list.   We can (and will if you instruct us to do so) prepare documents and letters for you, leaving you having only to sign them and send them on. We will do what we can to help guide you through what can often be a complicated process. 


  • Can you deal with everything for me?  

No. CityGate Chambers Limited is not authorised to conduct litigation. Conducting litigation includes doing things like issuing court proceedings or applications, formally sending things to (or receiving things from) court or an opponent, giving their address for service and signing off on a disclosure list. You will have to manage the claim yourself, including ensuring that you comply with any court deadlines. 


We can (and will if you instruct us to do so), however, prepare documents and letters for you, leaving you having only to sign them and send them on. We will do what we can to help guide you through what can often be a complicated process.

 

  • Will I have to attend court? 

That depends on how your matter progresses and the nature of any hearing that takes place. Most cases settle without the need for the parties to go to a court hearing, but some don’t. 


  • What is ‘litigation’?

Litigation is one method of resolving a dispute between two or more parties and includes steps taken prior to the issue of formal court proceedings. Ultimately, if no agreement can be reached between the parties in relation to a dispute, litigation will end with a judge making a decision which will usually see one party winning their case and the other party losing. As well as any damages or compensation, the loser will usually have to pay the winner’s legal costs.  


There are other methods of resolving disputes which can be used instead of, or alongside, litigation. They are known as Alternative Dispute Resolution (‘ADR’), being ‘alternatives’ to litigation:


  1. Mediation – With the assistance of an independent third party, who will usually have some experience of the area of law in question, the parties getting together to try and resolve their dispute by agreement.
  2. Arbitration – This is actually similar to litigation in the courts, but the binding decision is made by a private arbitrator, not a judge.
  3. Ombudsman services – A number of industries offer a service for the resolution of complaints relating to people like financial advisers, solicitors and barristers. The complaint will be considered and decided upon by an independent third party (the Ombudsman). If the customer accepts the decision, it will be binding upon both parties.
  4. Without prejudice meeting/joint settlement meeting - This involves the parties getting together to try and resolve their dispute by agreement.


  • What is a barrister? 

A barrister is a type of qualified legal professional. Other types include solicitors, legal executives and licensed conveyancers. The collective name for barristers is ‘counsel’. 


Some people use the word ‘lawyer’ as a way to describe someone who deals with legal cases. It has no specific, ‘technical’ meaning, not in this country anyway, and it is sometimes used to include someone who is not a qualified legal professional. 


A qualified legal professional is someone who has acquired legal qualifications and successfully completed a period of training. Also, they are regulated by a governing body and must conduct themselves in accordance with a set of rules, usually called a Code of Conduct. The regulatory body for barristers is the Bar Standards Board (‘BSB’). For solicitors, it’s the Solicitors Regulations Authority (‘SRA’). 


  • What does a barrister do?

A barrister’s main functions are to draft specialist legal documents (including contracts and other types of agreement and formal court papers), prepare specialist legal opinions and to appear as an advocate to present their client’s case, usually in a court room before a judge, but sometimes to a mediator or arbitrator.


  • What's the difference between a solicitor and a barrister?   

A barrister’s training is different from that of a solicitor. A barrister’s training is focused on developing advocacy and drafting skills. Also, they will typically focus their practice on a limited number of fields of law. A solicitor’s training focuses on dealing with clients, advising them, dealing with matters of procedure, and on the law more generally.  


So, if a solicitor needs a specialist or complex legal document drafting, or if they need someone to appear in court on behalf of their client, they are likely to instruct a barrister who specialises in the particular field of law in question.   

There are a couple of other important, practical differences:


  1. Barrister have higher rights of audience, meaning that they are allowed to appear in the ‘Senior Courts’ (the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court). However, some solicitors undertake additional training to become ‘Solicitor Advocates’, allowing them the same rights of audience as barristers.
  2. Unless they have received specialist training, a barrister is not permitted to take instructions direct from members of the public whereas a solicitor is usually the first port of call for members of the public who have a legal issue for which they need legal advice/representation. CityGate Chambers Limited is permitted to accept instructions direct from members of the public.
  3. A barrister is not permitted to hold client money whereas a solicitor is, and so a barrister does not have a ‘client account’.
  4. Unless they have received authorisation from the BSB, a barrister is not permitted to conduct litigation. Conducting litigation includes doing things like issuing court proceedings or applications, formally sending things to (or receiving things from) court or an opponent, giving their address for service and signing off on a disclosure list. CityGate Chambers Limited is not authorised to conduct litigation.


  • What is a QC?  

QC stands for ‘Queen’s Counsel’. Queen’s counsel are appointed by the Queen on merit by reason of their specialist skills in a particular field of law. Most QCs are barristers, but solicitors can also be appointed as a QC.    During the reign of a King, ‘KC’ is used instead of ‘QC’. When a barrister is appointed as a QC, they are said to have ‘taken silk’, which refers to the fact that, as a QC, they are then permitted to wear a silk gown rather than a cotton gown.    A barrister who is not a QC is referred to as a ‘junior barrister’. A junior barrister who has been qualified for a long time is referred to as a ‘senior junior’. A barrister who has just finished their pupillage and so no longer required to be a ‘pupil’ (i.e. trainee) of a more experienced barrister is referred to as a ‘baby barrister’. 

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