Direct Access Terms of Engagement
Jane Sisson-Pell, Family Law Barrister
a. My name and professional title is Jane Sisson-Pell, Barrister and I am registered with the Bar Standards Board under that name.
b. I hold a current Bar Council Practising Certificate. I have professional indemnity insurance with the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund, 90 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3M 4ST. My Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund reference number is 8793/004.
c. My practicing address is 1, The Village, Farnley Tyas, Huddersfield, HD4 6UG. My telephone numbers are 01484 660124 and 07881 905 139. My email address is: email@example.com.
My professional obligations
I will carefully considered your instructions and confirm that I have sufficient experience and competence to undertake the work necessary to carry out these instructions. I will be the only person you are instructing under this direct access arrangement and if you agree, I will personally do all the work needed under this arrangement.
As a barrister, I must follow the Bar Code of Conduct. I must also comply with the Scope of Practice and Authorisation Rules, which govern barristers. The Code of Conduct and the Scope of Practice Authorisation Rules are contained in Parts 2 and 3 of the Bar Standards Board Handbook. I can supply you with a copy of this handbook on request or you can find it on the Bar Standards Board website
The work I will carry out
The work you instruct me to carry out is set out in a letter of engagement. If further work is needed on this matter, and I am available to do the further work, there will need to be another letter of engagement between us. A barrister’s role is not the same as a solicitor’s role. A solicitor will manage your case from start to finish. Under this direct access arrangement, I will undertake specific tasks upon your instruction e.g. providing advice, assistance in drafting legal documents and representation at court should you need it.
The work you will carry out
Whilst I can draft formal court documents for you should this become necessary, I cannot serve court documents or file them at court on your behalf, because I am not a solicitor. Filing and serving court documents is the process by which papers relating to the case are put before the court and the parties concerned are notified.
It is your responsibility to file documents at court and serve them on the other party (and when appropriate on CAFCASS). You agree to send out correspondence should that be necessary and to manage your case on a day-to-day basis. I cannot go on the court record or provide my address for service of documents and I cannot serve documents. You will be listed on the court record as a litigant in person. You will need to provide your own address as the ‘address for service’ of documents sent to you by the court and other parties. As you are instructing me without a solicitor, you must be sure that you are able to do whatever is necessary for those matters, which I cannot deal with; or you can make an arrangement with another person of suitable competence and experience to provide these services for you. We can discuss this further when we meet.
What barristers do
Barristers advise on the law and draft documents for their clients to use. They appear on behalf of their client before courts or in settlement discussions. I am not authorised to conduct litigation and I cannot handle client money or undertake the general organisation or management of your case proceeding through a court. Here are some examples of work that I can carry out for you. I can provide legal advice and draft letters and court documents. I can represent you at court, in mediation and at round table meetings. If a witness statement is needed from you, I can draft it from what you tell me. I may also be able to help finalise a witness statement from another person based on the information that person has provided.
I can advise you on the need for expert evidence and on the choice of a suitable expert. However, I may not instruct an expert on your behalf. Expert evidence is evidence about a professional, scientific or technical matter provided by an individual with expertise in that area. The Bar Standards Board’s guidance for Lay Clients gives more information about the sort of work that barristers do and your relationship with your barrister. I can provide you with a copy of this document on request, or you can find it on the Bar Standard Board’s website.
My Brief fee
My Brief fee, is a fixed fee for the work that is set out in the letter of engagement and fee note. Under these terms, you will be responsible for paying the fees set out in the letter of engagement. Payment must be made in advance, by bank transfer. A “Brief Fee” is non-refundable once the brief is delivered or on acceptance of the brief as it includes my time for advising you and preparing the case. This applies whether or not the hearing goes ahead on the listed date or the hearing is adjourned or vacated for whatever reason. The fee must be paid on booking and I will not be instructed until the fee is paid. I reserve the right to accept other bookings until such time as your booking is confirmed.
I am a self-employed barrister. My professional duties may mean that I am not always in Chambers or that you are not able to contact me directly. You may find that the best way to contact me is to leave a message by email and I will respond as soon as I am able to do so.
If for any reason I cannot carry out all the work you are instructing me to do, or if I want to suggest that another barrister (instead of me, or as well as me) carry out the work for you, I may propose this and explain why I have made this suggestion. However, another barrister will not carry out work for you unless and until you have agreed to this.
When court cases are to be listed, it is your responsibility to notify the court of your availability dates. If you have a holiday booked or if you are planning to book a holiday, you must notify the court of those dates and any other relevant dates, immediately. Unless the court has specifically stated otherwise, you must attend every court hearing.
Circumstances when I may not be able to act for you
As a barrister, I must follow the Bar Council Code of Conduct. I cannot be expected to perform the functions of a solicitor or other person who is authorised to conduct ligation. That code requires me to consider whether a solicitor needs to be instructed in your interests. If there comes a point at which I consider you need a solicitor in your own interests or in the interests of justice, I will no longer be able to act for you without the involvement of a solicitor. If I foresee that situation arising, I will give you as much warning as possible.
Equality and Diversity
I am committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of my dealings with my clients and third parties. I have an Equality and Diversity Policy to make available to you, if requested. The Equality Act 2010 imposes a duty on me to provide the same facilities to able and disabled clients and third parties. I can provide an interview venue, which is suitable for use by wheelchair users and I can visit disabled clients at home if they wish me to do so.
Community Legal Service Funding – Public Funding (formerly known as legal aid)
It is possible that you may be eligible for public funding (i.e. legal aid) as it is commonly referred to. However, as a barrister I cannot do legal aid work unless I have been instructed by a solicitor. If you want to talk to someone in more detail about getting public funding, you should contact a family law solicitor who does publicly funded work. They will be able to advise you about the public funding entitlements relating to your family law case. You can find out more information on the gov.uk website. If you wish to be assessed for legal aid for a family law case you can contact Community Legal Advice. You can call them on: 0345 345 4345. You can also use their online legal aid calculator. This is a tool that allows you to check whether you can get legal aid for your case. It allows you to get online advice and can help you find a legal adviser near you.
I can advise and represent you if you make an informed decision not to seek public funding, or you make a public funding application (i.e. you have applied to get legal aid to help fund your case), which is rejected or you do not wish to take up an offer of public funding (perhaps because you consider that the level of contribution you will be required to make is too high). Upon signing these terms, you will confirm that you have been informed that you may be eligible for public funding and where you can find further information. You will choose to instruct me without the benefit of any public funding, which may be available to you. If there is a change in your financial circumstances or if at any stage you wish to make an application for legal service funding you must tell me.
I am registered with the Data Commissioners Office I am Huddersfield Chambers Data Protection Officer. From 25 May 2018, the EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) govern this contract and I need to process necessary personal data in order to provide legal services to you. Without your personal data, I cannot do the work. The provision of your personal data arises under a contractual obligation. View the full privacy notice.
You have rights under GDPR. They include the right to withdraw your consent to my continued processing of your personal data, the right to access your personal data, the right to rectify inaccuracies and/or deletion of personal data. You have the right to place restrictions on my processing of your data and the right to port that data to another data controller. You have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s office at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow SK9 5AF.
I will use the information you provide me with for the purposes of carrying out your instructions, providing legal services to you and in order to maintain client records and produce management data. When I obtain personal data from you I will handle it in accordance with my privacy notice. I will comply with my professional duty to keep that information confidential and any legal duties I have in relation to that information (such as General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018). I will only disclose the information that you give to me if:
- You consent to me doing so;
- it is necessary for me to do so in order to carry out your instructions (for example, providing information to a court or another party to the case);
- it is already in the public domain;
- I am under a legal or professional obligation or entitlement to do so.
During August 2020, HMCTS notified the legal profession that it anticipates an increase in requests from law students and members of the press asking to sit in on family cases, as hearings continue to take place via video conferencing platforms. The opportunities for students and trainees to observe hearings has been greatly reduced as a result of Covid-19 and journalists have the right to request to sit in on any family case.
Upon engaging with my services, you and I agree that:
- I am entitled to keep copies of any documents you give me for my own professional records and /or make copies of those documents. I prefer to be provided with copies of documents rather than originals.
- If I need to make copies of documents that you supply me with for any reason or I agree to copy for you, I may charge you a reasonable amount for doing so, to be agreed between us in advance. If you do provide me with originals, I will return all your original documents to you when I have carried out the work, which you have instructed me to do or on demand. However, if during the course of a court hearing you hand to me an original document to show to the court, that document may become an exhibit and as such, it may be retained by the court.
- Any documents to be posted to Huddersfield Chambers by you, should be posted only by prior arrangement with me, to ensure that I am available to be at the premises and to accept delivery.
- You will retain all documents at the conclusion of your case in respect of matters concerning children, until they are 18 years’ of age. ‘All documents’ includes your file, advices, notes of telephone calls, meetings and hearings, all emails and texts.
- I will normally retain any electronic documents you give me or a list of them for at least 7 years from the date of the last work I do for you. After that period I will destroy them securely. If any of the documents contain personal data for the purposes of the General Data Protection Regulation, I will destroy them after any need to retain them has passed.
Email, Text Telephone Communications & Social Media
If you have provided me with an email address and or a mobile number this will be deemed as providing authorisation to me to contact you via your email address and / or your mobile phone.
I hope you will be happy with the professional services I provide. However, if something goes wrong you need to tell me about it. If you are not satisfied, you should first refer the matter to me. I will deal with your complaint promptly. My complaints procedure can be found here.
This contract will be governed by English law and any dispute will be subject to the jurisdiction of the English courts. Jurisdiction means the power and authority of a court or tribunal to determine the outcome of a case and impose sanctions or penalties on those involved.
(i) My role is to represent you and to present your case to the best of my ability.
(ii) I have a duty of full and frank disclosure in respect of relevant material disclosed by you, which has an impact upon the welfare of the child, or children, who are the subject of this application.
(iii) I am not in a position to conduct a final hearing or any proceedings whilst withholding or concealing relevant information from the other parties and the court.
(iv) The duty of confidentiality, which I owe to you may be overridden where permitted by law. In particular, any information, which reveals a serious risk to the welfare of a child, or serious harm to a third party, may have to be disclosed even if you cease to instruct me.
(v) There are very clear rules about who you can and cannot discuss your case with. These are set out clearly in Leaflet Ex 710. Please read this carefully. If you have any questions in respect of this I will be happy to explain.