Fri, 30 Nov 2012
Experts at the Bar Conference last week have warned that the Jackson reforms will increase potential conflicts of interest where barristers are dealing directly with the public.
Direct access allows clients to approach a barrister without a solicitor, which means that clients rely on the barrister to give advice on the best funding option, even though this may not be the most profitable for the barrister.
Kevin Leigh, of No5 Chambers and vice-chair of Bar Council’s access to the bar committee, said the conflict over funding advice was ‘the elephant in the room’.
'Without a solicitor, you are supposed to [give] exactly the same sort of advice as a solicitor would give. I may have to say [to a client], you need to get this checked. But people are becoming desperate. They can’t afford a solicitor. There is pressure on them. The reality is they will take anything they can get so that they can litigate their problem.
‘It’s nice to think that the bar is honourable, but sometimes there is even a pressure [on barristers], to do things which are against their better judgement, because you think - where does the client go from here?
‘In the real world, there is a tension between [the client’s interests and thinking] how am I going to get paid? Someone needs to think that through. The Jackson reforms do not deal with that problem.’