I know what instructions to a barrister are, BEFORE court.
When it is appropriate to use a barrister, the barrister is sent ‘Instructions' (when asked to give an opinion on a case) or a 'Brief' (if the barrister is to appear in court). Good instructions should give background on a case and will generally include the following:
- Who you are and whom you act for
- Who your dispute or potential dispute is with, and the nature of it (e.g. ‘unfair dismissal claim by former employee’ or ‘boundary dispute’)
- A brief background which usually sets out the relevant events in chronological order
- Any relevant deadlines (e.g. limitation dates, hearing dates or time limits for serving evidence)
- What you want the barrister to do
There are no set rules on how the instructions or briefs should appear or what papers should be sent. However, where you are asking counsel to draft pleadings or appear in court, you should consider the following additional points:
But "instructions" appear to mean something else, when blurted by the barrister himself IN court TO a judge! What's this second sense of "instructions"?
- Geoffrey Robertson QC in British Board of Film Classification, R (on the application of) v Video Appeals Committee  EWHC 203 (Admin) (24 January 2008)
MR ROBERTSON: May I take instructions on another matter?
MR JUSTICE MITTING: Certainly. (Pause)
- Paul Bowen (now KC) in Public Interest Lawyers Ltd, R (On the Application Of) v Legal Services Commission  EWHC 3259 (Admin) (05 November 2010)
- MR BOWEN: May I take instructions?
- Gavin Millar QC in MGN Ltd & Ors, RE Application for Leave To Appeal  EWCA Crim 100 (25 January 2011)
MR MILLAR: May I take instructions so that I can find out what our position is?
THE LORD CHIEF JUSTICE: Yes, by all means. I am speaking for myself -- and if my colleagues have anything to say on it they will say so themselves -- my only concern relates to the five people we have called the "young witnesses".
- David Blundell (now KC) in Fawcett, R (on the application of) v Health Safety Executive  EWHC 2364 (Admin) (24 February 2012)
MR BLUNDELL: I am very grateful for that judgment, may I take instructions for a brief moment? There was a consultation on the point that I am going to address your Lordship, I am taking instructions on in just a moment.
MR JUSTICE BEATSON: Whilst you are getting instructions let me explain to -- can you wait a minute?
What I have done is you have failed but if you heard what I said then you will see and I have not made an order of costs against you, and of course Mr Blundell may try to persuade me that I ought to, but I have not because of what I have said in the judgment. Yes Mr Blundell?
MR BLUNDELL: In fact I will just take instructions. (Pause)
My Lord I am very grateful for the indication your Lordship has given. Those behind me have taken instructions, we are not going to seek to persuade your Lordship to make any other order.
MOULES: Indeed. May I take instructions on one final matter? Your Lordships do have discretion not only to quash the order, but also to remit the matter back. Insofar as my client has incurred costs resisting Mr Dixon's application in the Magistrates', that matter falls due to be decided.
MR JUSTICE CRANSTON: Do you want time to think about it?