What is the difference between a lawyer and a barrister?
A barrister is a type of lawyer, but is often called an "advocate" because of our speciality advocacy, especially in higher courts. We are the only lawyers who wear the traditional court wigs!
These days, "lawyers" include:
barristers, who do not normally "conduct" litigation for a client, but are brought in to advise and represent the client in court,
solicitors, the traditional "lawyer" most people would go to see if they have a legal issue to resolve, who can advise and prepare evidence and handle the litigation stages if a case is necessary, and
legal executives or "paralegals" who now gain formal qualifications from CILEX and can become managers and partners in legal firms and handle litigation without being supervised by another "lawyer".
Traditionally, a barrister worked "on referral" from a solicitor (or now also a suitably qualified legal executive), and so the Bar was called a "referral profession". More recently, working direct for clients has been permitted, initially for professional organisations with full records and files, such as banks, accountants or surveyors, but now for any member of the public under the licensed "public access" licensing scheme.
Most barristers do not "conduct" litigation, however, because we do not have the resources to investigate claims, obtain eg. expert evidence, and deal with all the court process necessary, but in some fields of work barristers are able to appear and represent clients under direct access arrangements, eg. inquests and employment tribunal claims.
I do not generally undertake such work because the cases I deal with are generally complex and require a lot of evidential preparation which as a sole practitioner I am not set up to do.
What sort of cases can Theo Huckle QC handle?
I am able to consider helping with any legal problem, though I normally specialise in compensation claims for injury (including psychiatric injury, diseases and loss of senses), whether the injury is caused
in the workplace,
in a road accident,
in a sporting event,
in clinical treatment that goes wrong,
because a product was defective and harmful,
or in many other situations which arise in life and where injuries happen (including when they come on over time).
Over the years I have handled many different types of case, and I can advise on strategic aspects of making all types of claim.
I also deal with appeal cases, sometimes where I was in the original case and either we think the judge wasn't fair to our client, or the other side appeal where they say the judge was too fair (!), and sometimes where I wasn't in the original case but I'm asked to come in instead of, or to lead the team including, my client's original lawyers.
QCs are usually instructed in:
complex, difficult and high value individual cases, or
where a number of lower value claims are being dealt with together - sometimes known as "group claims" - such as in the claims of sewing machinists leading to our Supreme Court case in Baker v Quantum, or
where a case raises a legal issue of importance and which will affect other claims - these are called "test cases" - such as in my case of Goldscheider v Royal Opera House, a single claim by Mr Goldscheider but raising general principles as to the liability of orchestras (and indeed across the entertainments sector generally) for noise injury to musicians, and establishing the particular type of injury.
How do I know if my claim is serious enough to ask Theo Huckle QC to advise or represent me?
The courts tend to take the view that (when you win) in order for costs awarded for you against your opponent to include the cost of instructing a senior barrister, and especially a QC, the case has to be of a seriousness/complexity that makes it appropriate to invest so heavily in legal representation.
This is why we indicated above that I "normally" act in cases where the damages award is likely to be in the £00,000s. However, care is needed here. As an example only, if someone is out of work as a result of injury, and that loss of work is likely to result in loss of earnings of, say, £25,000 pa over 20 years to date and to come, that claim alone could be worth of the order of £25,000 * 20 ie. £½m. (Please note that the "multiplier" will not in fact be 20 because it is calculated by reference to a discount rate set by the Lord Chancellor to account for the fact that payment will be in a lump sum rather than spread out over time, but this gives you a reasonable idea of valuation of a simple claim like this.) With claims over the long term, even relatively modest losses mount up into large total claims.
If the court does not think it was appropriate for you to instruct Leading Counsel, you will recover some costs for your barrister's fees, but not the full amount (ie. "as if" you had instructed a less experienced and less expensive barrister), and so you may find that you still have to pay, out of damages recovered or out of your own resources, the balance of fees you have agreed to pay.
On the other hand, like all barristers in private practice, I am subject to a "cab rank rule" so that, provided I am qualified to advise on your matter, and you are content to pay for my services, I am bound to accept instructions. So in the end it is a matter for you. I am happy to help you if you are happy to be responsible for my fees, which we will agree in advance depending on the type of case. In some cases I will be prepared to act on a "conditional fee" basis, but normally this will not apply to Direct Access work and only when I am being instructed by a lawyer.
So what charging rates does Theo Huckle QC apply?
It is difficult to give this advice "in a vacuum" without knowledge of the particular case, so please contact us for more information. It is very important to us that you know what you are paying for and how much; we will always agree this with you in advance so that it is entirely clear from the start.
We know that advice from Leading Counsel is expensive, but it is right to point out that I am usually instructed by a solicitor to whom the client has gone for advice where the solicitor feels that Leader's advice is required. In that situation the client will incur the costs of the solicitor in referring to me for advice, as well as my fees. Coming to me direct avoids that duplication. It can be particularly useful at the outset, so that highly expert advice is obtained as to the prospects for a claim, including as to how best to make the claim.
I can do some cases on a "conditional fee" basis, sometimes known as "no win no fee". However, it is important to note that I cannot accept initial direct access instructions on that basis.
If you are not able to pay for legal advice at all, we may be able to suggest an appropriate lawyer to consult to see if s/he can help you on the conditional basis from the outset.
If you would like to pay for preliminary advice from me, I am happy to do that and can then suggest a suitable lawyer to conduct the claim for you; the lawyer may well be prepared to work on a CFA basis, particularly if I have advised that you have a good claim, and at later stages I may be able to enter into a CFA for my future work.
How much chargeable time Theo Huckle QC need in order to advise me?
Much depends on how much material you provide for my consideration, unless the legal issues are peculiarly complex, which is unusual.
As a rough guide, if you provide 100pp of statements and documents, say, then you can expect that this will require at least 4 hours for me to read carefully and absorb the information, before doing legal research as required and then drafting advice in writing for you.
Of course, sending too little information will only result in me giving generalised advice with lots of "if this then that" observations, so you need to send what you think is really required for a proper assessment of the situation and for me to reach a properly considered opinion.
If I need more information, even to give preliminary advice, I will ask you for that information; this is normally the only reason for extending the initial timescale agreed for the advice.
How do I know that Theo Huckle QC is the right barrister for me?
We hope that the information in this website provides a good basis upon which you can take an informed view. Of course, if you need further information, please contact us and we will do our best to help.
Where can Theo Huckle QC take cases?
I am qualified to practise in, and am happy to be instructed for clients throughout England and Wales. The law is different in Scotland and in Northern Ireland, and of course in countries outside the UK, but provided the case is one in which English/Welsh law applies or has relevance (including human rights cases going to the European Court of Human Rights, or cases in other international tribunals), or where it does not so much matter which is the applicable law, eg. for inquiries or settlement processes, then I am happy to be asked to act and can advise whether the case is suitable for me, acting alone or leading a team.