Family Law

Languages

We offer advocates with the following languages:

  • French (good command)

  • German (conversational)

  • Italian (basic-conversational)

  • Japanese (conversational)

  • Mandarin Chinese (conversational)

  • Polish (native speaker)

  • Spanish (basic/conversational)

 

How can to instruct us?

Simply fill in the form here, call 020 7822 7000 and speak to one of our helpful clerks or email family@4kbw.co.uk

Our clerks will match you with a range of suitable barristers and provide you withquotations. The clerks will accommodate any particular choice of barrister you may already have made, but will also make suggestions if they feel there is a more appropriate match.

We aim to respond with quotations for all enquiries (unless the work cannot be done under public access) within 24 hours.

When you contact us please have  the following information available:

  • your name and contact details

  • the nature of the dispute (e.g. finances following a divorce, child arrangements, domestic violence)

  • the identity of the other party to the dispute

  • the work required (e.g. representation at a hearing, opinion in writing, advice on merits or procedure)

  • any relevant deadlines (e.g. hearing date, date for filing a document or accepting a settlement offer)

copies of any relevant documents (e.g. court orders, statements or applications) see below

Please include the full names and dates of birth of you, any other parties and children, together with the name of the court and any case number (if available).

 

Paperwork

The more organised your paperwork is the quicker it will be for your barrister to understand your case, advise you it and present it to a court. You will need to supply any documents you already have, either in hard copy or by email, arranged as follows in chronological order (going from earliest to latest):

  • a summary of your case and any specific issues you would like advice on

  • application(s) to the court and any court orders

  • statements and other documents sent to the court

  • correspondence with any other parties

  • any other documents you consider to be relevant

 

You can provide the above by email/scan, post, fax or in person.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I accept a quotation for work?

Once you have received and accepted a quotation, you will be sent a ‘client care’ letter. This contains our terms and conditions as approved by the Bar Council and the Bar Standards Board. It will set out what the barrister is instructed to do for you, any relevant timescale, the fee for the work and the terms of payment. You must read the client care letter carefully before signing one copy and returning that to us. A sample of a standard client care letter can be found here.

 

What does it cost?

A big advantage of direct access is that you instruct one lawyer rather than 2 (i.e. a solicitor and a barrister) and you are charged a fixed fee for each piece of work. You therefore retrain greater control on how much money is spent. All fees are normally agreed in advance, through for some complex cases that may not be possible. If a fixed fee cannot be offered then the barrister will provide an estimate.

Whilst not easy to estimate how much is saved by instructing a direct access barrister, rather than a solicitor and possibly a barrister, the savings are likely to be large because a barrister does not undertake the day-to-day running of the case (as a solicitor would).

When does the barrister start work?

Except for unusual circumstances, the barrister will start work once payment has been received in accordance with the terms of the client care letter (see above ‘How do I accept a quotation for work?’).

 

When do I meet the barrister?

Whether or not you meet your barrister depends on the type of work involved. Most cases will involve at least once meeting (‘conference’) with the barrister, either at 4KBW itself (at the address below) or at a location to suit you. In other cases you can be advised in writing without the need for a face-to-face conference.

 

What do I need to do to save money and get the best out of direct access?

First, you need to be organised because you will be undertaking the day-to-day running of your own case. It is essential that you are able to organise your own paperwork and ‘file and serve’ documents yourself, that is to send to the court and another party the documents which form your case (in most cases barristers are professionally barred from doing so because it amounts to conducting litigation, which only you – a litigant in person – or a solicitor can do).

It is useful to bear in mind that barristers are specialist advisors and courtroom advocates. With direct access, their role does not change; rather, you take the position of the solicitor, instructing the barrister to perform a specific, discrete task (e.g. to draft an advice, appear at a hearing etc). They are not on standby throughout in the same way a solicitor (who works on a retainer) would be and this is one of the reasons why direct access is more economical.

Court deadlines are also your responsibility; you need to be able to meet them, including at short notice.

Be clear what your objective is. It will help if, when your first instruct your barrister, you know exactly what it is you want to achieve. This will allow your barrister to best meet your goal or, if unrealistic, discuss alternatives.

It is also important to stress that you must be completely clear about everything with your barrister, including information that may not assist or that harms your case. This is so that she or he is fully aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the case and can give you the best advice.

 

Legal aid

If you think that you might be eligible to receive legal aid (also known as public funding) you should contact the Legal Aid Agency or a solicitor that accepts legal aid work in order to check if you are eligible. It is your choice whether, if eligible, you decide to apply for legal aid or to proceed with direct access. If the latter, you must make an informed choice not to seek public funding. Barristers cannot do legal aid work unless instructed by a solicitor.

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