1. A layperson may not know whether his/her case is complex enough to hire a Queen's Counsel. So how does a layperson decide, when deciding hiring a public access barrister?

2. Are barristers obligated to advise a client on such a question? To wit, will a Junior Counsel truly choose to lose business, by tell a prospective client to hire a QC instead? And vice versa? Barristers may not be the most scrupulous humans (insert chiding joke about lawyers here).

  • What does your solicitor advise? – Calchas Jul 3 '15 at 15:37
  • @Calchas I don't have one. I ask the above in general, and not for me. – NNOX Apps Jul 3 '15 at 15:38

Generally, the client will be hiring the barrister based on the advice of their solicitor; who is definitely not a lay person. That said:

  1. How do you, as a lay person, decide if your medical condition is serious enough to require a professor or an intern? Similarly, how experienced does your engineer or architect need to be? The answer is the same in all situations - you balance the extra expense with your assessment of the expected outcome.

  2. Most professionals genuinely have the best interests of their client in mind because:

    1. Most are genuinely ethical - consultants like barristers more than most because they are not beholden to an employer.
    2. Its bad for business if it is not. Reputation is everything; consistently take on cases that you can't win or over-service your clients and word gets around.
    3. Barristers are officers of the court - they need to work with the judges on a regular basis and nothing pisses off a judge more than a barrister who doesn't know the relevant law.
    4. What makes you think any barrister is short of work? Most will happily pass over a client they can't service properly because there are a dozen more lining up.

For question 2, there is a firm requirement on barristers to inform the client if different counsel would be called for. To quote the Bar Standards Board handbook:

rC17 Your duty to act in the best interests of each client (CD2) includes a duty to consider whether the client’s best interests are served by different legal representation, and if so, to advise the client to that effect.

The guidance specifically mentions that if something should be handled by more (or less) experienced counsel, there is an ethical duty to tell their client.

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