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Perception of high fees an obstacle to consumers using barristers in family law matters

Most clients positive about the service received from their barrister

The Bar Standards Board has published the findings of its research with people who have used barristers' services during family legal proceedings.
The research is the most in-depth the BSB has undertaken with barristers' clients to date.

Solicitors and law firms remain at the centre of the family law area with a significant majority of respondents using them for both general legal advice and for representation in courts: 71 per cent of all of those with a family law issue used a solicitor. Of those going to court (29 per cent of respondents) 72 per cent engaged a solicitor to represent them and around one-third used a barrister. As most family law matters never go to court, this means that only 13 per cent of people with a family law issue of any type used a barrister.

Solicitors are also still the main link between individuals and barristers with few consumers going directly to barristers.

There is a perception among consumers that barristers are expensive and 83 per cent of respondents believed that barristers charge higher fees than solicitors and other legal services providers.

Interviews with 50 respondents who used a barrister during the last two years highlighted the following:

A wider survey amongst 1,200 people with a family law issue, showed that:

BSB Director of Policy and Strategy Ewen MacLeod said:

"We are pleased that most of the respondents who used a barrister for a family law matter were satisfied with the level of service that they received. But our survey also shows that many people facing a family law matter are unable to access appropriate legal advice for a variety of reasons. They may choose to represent themselves in court or turn to unregulated advisors for help. Having obtained a more complete picture of the experiences of family law clients via this research, it will help inform our future regulatory response to these important issues."

For the full report, click here.