We have put in place a panel of barristers who have agreed to provide services on foot of the Board’s Terms and Conditions for the Retention of Counsel. This is available on the LAB Bulletin Board under “Barristers Panel”. The Terms and Conditions themselves can be found in Appendix B of this Circular. When engaging Counsel you should check that the barrister you propose to engage is listed on this panel. The panel is updated regularly and you should always refer to the latest version of the panel.
Staff should be aware of the following in relation to the retention of Counsel:
- You can only retain a barrister if you received authorisation from Legal Services first;
- You must make clear the terms upon which the barrister is retained. It is advisable to send the barrister a copy of the legal aid certificate which sets out the extent of the service authorised. Pay particular attention if instructing a barrister who is not normally briefed, particularly in relation to the fee payable. Ensure that you point out that any fees payable are in accordance with the Board’s terms and conditions;
- Make sure the barrister is on the Barrister’s Panel
- If the terms of retention are on the basis of a set number of hours you may need to reiterate to the barrister what the number of hours are. If you consider that the number of hours are insufficient, an application can be made to extend the hours;
- If a barrister sends in a fee note that is outside the terms of his or her retention you should return the fee note to him or her advising him / her of this. Do not simply place it on the file to deal with at a later stage; and
- Ultimately it is your responsibility, as the instructing solicitor, to ensure that the barrister is aware of the extent of his instructions and the fees that will be payable to him.