How to instruct me

I am a registered public access Barrister and TEP, and my Practising Certificate has been extended by the Bar Standards Board to authorise me to conduct litigation.

For a fixed fee, payable in advance of commencement of a defined scope of work, I can conduct litigation and represent you as an advocate from start to finish in any court in England and Wales, without the involvement of a solicitor.

New enquiries

To enquire about my availability and to instruct me, please send an email to carl@ihtbar.com  including your contact details.

Please also provide a brief description about who is in dispute, over what, and why.

To read my ‘Guide to Instructing a Public Access Barrister’ please click on this link: LINK

For Solicitors my standard terms of engagement are based upon the draft contractual terms agreed by the Commercial Bar Association with the City of London Law Society (the ‘COMBAR CLLS’ terms) as approved by the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund.

Please note that I do not undertake work in relation to disputes worth in excess of £5 million.

Contentious probate cases

I advise on all of the disputes listed on the Contentious Probate Handbook page of this website. Please also note that my recent and current case-load includes the matters listed on the Contentious Probate page.

In order to understand what it is that you want me to advise about, you need to provide a coherent and accurate account of the facts, and to state the outcome you are seeking, i.e. your objectives – what you want the court to order.

Under the professional conduct rules of the Bar which apply to public access work, before a Barrister can agree to act he must evaluate whether or not a solicitor needs to be involved, e.g. to investigate and assemble evidence. I therefore only undertake public access work with clients who can communicate with me clearly, and who make decisions after they have received legal advice about evidence, merits, remedies, procedure, costs, litigation risks, and ADR.

In my experience, the best starting point for a lay client is to assume no knowledge of the law and civil procedure rules, to focus of facts, and to instruct their professional advisor to advise whether or not they have a case, what that is, and what further information needs to be provided and issues investigated to properly evaluate merits. Otherwise the claim will not have been properly analysed.

The simplest and most cost-effective way to assemble and communicate facts in dispute is to provide a concise and accurate chronology of events cross-referred to documentary evidence, which becomes the spine of the claim.

I provide a Claim Analysis as part of the first stage of the work that I undertake on any case. This becomes a road-map which serves as a case-management tool throughout the conduct of the case, and can be adapted to draft a ‘Case Summary’ for filing with the court (i.e. ahead of a Case Management Conference with the Judge).

To enable me to carry out a Claim Analysis you will need to email me:

  • a concise and accurate statement about the background to the dispute (i.e. to set the scene);
  • a list of persons involved in the case (and who they are);
  • a succint chronology of events;
  • a list of documents in your possession (including correspondence);
  • HM Land Registry Office copies (in the dispute involves property);
  • the Will and any Codicil;
  • copies of any Caveat and Appearance;
  • a copy of the IHT 400 (in draft form or as filed);
  • copies of any asset valuations; and
  • copies of any statements of case and witness statements.

My standard fixed fee for providing a Claim Analysis (i.e. as part of the first stage of work) is £1,500.00, which is payable in advance of reading any papers and providing legal advice by telephone/e-mail.

Where the Claim Analysis is to be followed by an initial exchange of correspondence my standard fixed fee for undertaking this first stage of work is £3,000.00.

A bespoke fee for providing a written legal opinion can be provided after the work has been accurately scoped and defined.

Preparation for a High Court trial in a contentious probate case, involves as a minimum:

  • taking your detailed instructions;
  • analysing the issues of law and fact in the case (which typically involves 4/5 days reading time);
  • drafting a chronology of facts; taking witness statements;
  • investigating and assembling documentary evidence; drafting and filing statements of case and a skeleton argument;
  • the assembly, agreement (if possible), and filing of a bundle of documents with the court;
  • agreement of a fixed fee structure after the work to be undertaken has been accurately scoped and defined;
  • execution of a public access contract; and
  • MLC due diligence (which is a strict legal requirement before any practitioner can act).

An enquiry about my advocacy services therefore needs to be made at least 25 working days before the hearing date.

In the Chancery Division, a party seeking an adjournment must inform the Chancery Judges Listing Officer as soon as possible (paragraph 21.32 of the Chancery Guide). In my experience, an adjournment is unlikely to be granted if a party is not ready for trial through his own fault. In particular, not applying to adjourn until the day of the trial where a party has known for many weeks that he is in difficulties, may be a sufficient reason to refuse an adjournment.

Paragraphs 18.1 to 18.6 of the Chancery Guide further state,

‘Stays for mediation

18.2       Where appropriate the court will, as part of the overriding objective, encourage the parties to use ADR or otherwise help them settle the case or resolve particular issues. There should normally be discussion at the case management conference about what steps have already been taken (if any), and those which ought to considered in future, to try to resolve the claim.

18.3       The court will readily grant a stay at an early stage of the claim to accommodate mediation or any other form of ADR if the parties are agreed that there should be a stay. A consent order may be lodged to stay the claim. The court will not, however, normally grant an open-ended stay for such purposes and if, for any reason, a lengthy stay is granted it will usually be on terms that the parties report to the court on a regular basis about their negotiations.

18.4       Any order for a stay will normally include a provision that the parties may agree to extend the stay for periods not exceeding a total of 3 months from the date of this order without reference to the Court, provided they notify the Court in writing of the expiry date of any such extension. Any request for a further extension after 3 months must be referred to the Court. The order will include permission to apply in relation to the extension. At the end of the stay the parties should be in a position to tell the court what steps have been taken or are proposed to be taken

18.5       Once the claim has reached the stage of trial directions being given, a stay for ADR may not be appropriate if a stay will interfere with the timetable of directions or there is no agreement about the optimum time for the stay to take place. The parties may need to be flexible about finding the best time for settlement discussions or mediation and to do so without a stay of the claim.

18.6       The court will not make an order directing the parties to undertake a form of ADR. However, if the court considers that one or both parties are unreasonably refusing to attempt ADR, the court may order a stay with a direction for the parties to take reasonable steps to consider ADR.’

If an adjournment/stay is necessary, I will insist upon the appointment of a solicitor. If an adjournment/stay is subsequently agreed and granted, you can instruct your solicitor to instruct me to provide an initial advice about legal merits, and the way forward, including mediation, provided this can be agreed and arranged at the stage the litigation has reached.

Allegations of fraud

Please note that the Chancery Guide states,

‘10.1  In addition to the matters which PD 16 requires to be set out specifically in the particulars of claim, a party must set out in any statement of case:

  • full particulars of any allegation of fraud, dishonesty, malice or illegality; and
  • where any inference of fraud or dishonesty is alleged, the facts on the basis of which the inference is alleged.

10.2   A party should not set out allegations of fraud or dishonesty unless there is credible material to support the contentions made. Setting out such matters without such material being available may result in the particular allegations being struck out and may result in wasted costs orders being made against the legal advisers responsible.’

Dual capacity

A self-employed Barrister who holds a dual capacity practice certificate (for which I qualify and can apply), is licensed to provide any advisory, drafting, and advocacy services exercising full rights of audience, to a firm of solicitors.

A dual capacity Barrister can enter into an umbrella contract for services with a firm of Solicitors to provide advisory, drafting, and advocacy services to the firm’s lay clients:

  1. at the firm’s offices or elsewhere: and
  2. as and when required.

In a litigation matter, the Barrister would appear, exercising full rights of audience, as a legal practitioner providing advocacy services to the law firm’s client. In which case, for the court’s record, the lay client is represented in the proceedings and at any hearing by the law firm, and not by the Barrister.

A law firm website can include the professional profile of a dual capacity Barrister who provides legal services to the firm under a contract for services. In principle such a Barrister could accurately be described as an ‘Associated’ or ‘Affiliated Counsel’.

If you are interested in discussing the benefits of entering into an umbrella contract for services, under which I can provide niche contentious probate services to your clients through your firm, please send an email to carl@ihtbar.com.

From January 2014 overseas lawyers can also instruct and engage barristers directly to conduct litigation in the courts of England and Wales.

‘A barrister can now accept instructions directly from a foreign lawyer to provide advocacy services preparatory to appearing in Court in England or Wales without an English solicitor intermediary. The barrister cannot (unless he has the requisite conduct of litigation extension) step foot in Court without a solicitor (or other authorised litigator) but, if there were some urgent need to prepare for, say, an injunction, [he] could start work on the skeleton argument and oral arguments in parallel with the search for a suitable solicitor, subject to the client or foreign lawyer bringing in a solicitor by the time of appearing in Court.’ A summary note of changes to the rules on international practice published by the Bar Standards Board 20.01.2014.