• Gareth-Lee Smith

Don't delay - instruct your barrister today

A number of my clients approach me as their first contact with a lawyer. Sometimes they are at the beginning of their journey through their court case, and sometimes they are right at the end. I don’t mind where in their case I get involved – there’s always something I can do to help at any stage.

If I am the first contact with a lawyer, it means I am the first person to advise what I think the chances of success are. Unfortunately, because some people only come to me when they start to run into difficulties with their case, I’m often the bearer of bad news. The best clients take that news with disappointment but understanding. Others think that because I’m telling them that their case is poor it means that I won’t fight for them in court. They’re wrong – I always make the best of any case, and even if my advice to my client is that their case is poor I will always make the strongest possible argument to the judge that the case should succeed.

Weighing up the costs and the benefits

It is always better to get a barrister involved in your case sooner rather than later. I completely understand that the cost of instructing a lawyer often feels like it is an expense that you could do without, but if instructing a lawyer is a possibility for you at all then I really suggest that you do it as soon as possible. Even if you do save a few hundred pounds at the early stage of your case by not getting legal advice at that point, you might find that by the end that saving has disappeared because mistakes you made have cost you thousands down the line. The benefits of getting early advice usually far outweigh the costs.

One of the big advantages that you gain from instructing a direct access barrister like me is that I will tell you what I think are the likely prospects of success of your case. Countless times I have had clients come to me with a case that they believe that they are sure they will win, but from my experience and my knowledge of the law I know that the odds are stacked firmly against them. Sometimes it takes somebody independent and removed from the situation, like me, to see the wood from the trees.

One question makes clear why it is better to get advice sooner rather than later:

“If the outcome of your case was that you are going to lose no matter what, would you rather know on Day 1, or would you rather know on the day before trial?”

The answer, I hope, is obvious.

How I can help you to have the greatest chance of success

But there’s more to it than finding out if your case is hopeless. Here are some good reasons to get me involved in your case sooner rather than later:

  • I can advise you generally about the strengths and weaknesses of your case, together with the overall prospects of success.

  • I can advise you of a range of reasonably likely outcomes in the case. Once you know the possible outcomes I can also advise you how best to approach negotiation of a settlement and avoid the risk of trial. That advice might include rejecting offers made to you and proceeding to trial in order to obtain the best possible outcome.

  • I can advise you on what your evidence needs to include and what should be excluded. This is incredibly important, because at trial your evidence is whatever you have already provided to the court. If it’s not in writing well in advance of the day of trial then you usually won’t be allowed to rely on it.

  • I can advise you on the procedural steps that the court requires you to take. Sometimes these steps are quite complicated, and if you fail to comply with them the court will make some sort of order against you and give you little sympathy for being unrepresented.

If you instruct me when your case first begins, I can give you a very good overview of how to proceed with your case. I can set out a plan of action so that you’re not in the dark about how to take your claim or defence forward. After that you can carry on by yourself by preparing court documents which means that you save those legal costs, and you still have the option of instructing me for any court hearing or trial. You don’t need to instruct a solicitor to instruct me, and my fees are fixed and agreed up front.

If you would like assistance with any personal legal matter or an issue affecting your business then please contact me by using this form, and I will help you to prepare your case to give you the greatest chance of success.