Lamb Chambers

→ Lamb Chambers, London

In 2004 barristers were permitted by the Bar Council to accept instruction directly from the public without going through solicitors...

I am willing to work in that way. If you are thinking of asking me to work for you directly, this site will give you guidance on what is involved.

You can find out what I do and read answers to common questions by scrolling below. If you have any questions please contact me via phone on 020 7797 8300 or send an email to richardcolbey@lambchambers.co.uk

Why should we choose you?

I have been in practice for twenty years. I have appeared in a number of significant cases (more details on the Lamb Chambers website). I am a member of a large and highly regarded chambers. I work quickly and efficiently. If I take on a case I will give you a time scale for the work I am doing and I will stick to it.

What type of work do you do?

My practice mainly involves litigation- people suing each other- though I can also assist with some non-contentious tasks such as drafting contracts or giving inheritance tax advice. Most of my experience is in relation to commercial, contractual and intellectual property and land disputes as well as solicitors' and other professional’s negligence and claims for personal injuries suffered in accidents or by food poisoning. I am qualified as a Californian attorney and may accept instructions in matters with an Anglo-American element.

What can you do when you are directly instructed?

I am able to advise you about the strength of your case and how you should pursue it. I may do this in writing, over the telephone or by meeting you face to face. I can draft documents for you to use in proceedings such as statements of case and witness statements.

I can appear for you at court or in a mediation or arbitration. I may be able to negotiate with the other side for you. I can draft non-contentious documents, such as standard contractual terms. I can also write letters for you to sign and send to your adversary though I cannot actually send such a letter on your behalf.

What types of direct access work have you done?

My direct access work has been almost as varied as work I have done on instructions of solicitors, with cases ranging from multi-million pound claims to smallish consumer disputes. At the high profile end, I have (as of January 2008) been instructed in three direct access cases in the Court of Appeal and have won each of them.

http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2006/11.html&query

http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2006/1740.html&query

http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2007/1088.html&query

I have also accepted instructions in dozens of first instance cases in the county court and High Court and a few in other tribunals. Sometimes I have been able to provide useful advice with only an hour or so’s work on simple matters.

Are there any areas of work where you can't accept direct instructions?

The Bar Standards Board prohibits barristers doing crime, immigration and family (i.e. divorce and children) matters without a solicitor. I have no expertise in crime or immigration but if you do want to instruct me in a family matter, my clerks or I will be able to recommend reliable firms of solicitors with whom I regularly work.

Are there any other situations in which you will not be able to accept direct instructions?

There will be occasions where although I want to work for a client, I do not feel able to do so without a solicitor assisting me. This may be because, for instance, it is necessary to obtain further evidence, which I am not permitted to do, for you, or because your case requires more time than I am able to devote to it. In no circumstances can I receive or handle money or a clients' behalf. I will recommend a firm of solicitors if you want, or accept instructions from any firm that you choose to instruct. (There is no question of me receiving any commission from any solicitors I recommend. To do so would be a violation of the Bar Council's rules and quite wrong in principle.)

How do we contact you?

Telephone 020 7797 8300 and my clerks (John, Paul and Adrian) will put you straight through to me if I am available or arrange for me to call you back, which I will usually do within 24 hours. Alternatively you can write to me at Lamb Chambers, Temple, London EC4Y 7AS or e-mail richardcolbey@lambchambers.co.uk.

Do you only work in London?

I live and mainly work in London, though I also have an association with Portsmouth Guildhall Chambers (02392 752400). In principle I am willing to work anywhere in England and Wales. However I normally charge for travelling time, and it could prove uneconomic to instruct me to appear in court a long way away. Of course for advisory work it makes little difference where the dispute occurred.

What are your charges?

My fees will vary depending on the nature of the work and the amount in issue. I keep my hourly rates to well below half of that charged by litigation partners in the large City of London firms of solicitors while offering a service at least comparable to those they provide. My clerks or I will always quote either an hourly rate or fixed sum before taking on a piece of work. If I am asked to advise on a specific problem I will usually be able to give a definite figure in advance. For matters where the amount of time I spend will partly depend on factors beyond my control I may only be able to give an estimate.

Is it more cost effective to instruct you directly or through a solicitor?

Because barristers' overheads are less than solicitors we have traditionally been able to charge lower hourly rates than comparably experienced solicitors. Often much of the work that would be done by a solicitor, such as photo-copying and collating documents you will be able to do yourself. Some solicitors, particularly large firms, engage more than one person on a case as well as instructing a barrister, and clients pay unnecessarily for this duplication. Some people will prefer to have all the work, however mundane, done by a professional in which case they may be better off using a solicitor.

Do we instruct you or your chambers?

I, like all practising barristers, work independently rather than in partnership. Members of chambers such as mine pool expenses and provide practical and professional assistance to each other. If I were, for instance, double booked I would normally suggest that someone from my chambers cover that work. The client would not have to agree to that but if they did they would enter into a separate agreement with the other barrister. Also because most of my clients pay legal fees out of their own pockets, rather than from a bottomless corporate fund, I am conscious of the need to control and give meaningful information about costs.

Do you accept no win/no fee work?

The Bar Standards Board has advised barristers not to accept work directly from the public on a no win/no fee (conditional fee) basis. Only in a case where I felt there was a compelling reason, such as very poor person who had a strong claim against a large corporation, would I depart from that advice.

What if I am eligible for legal aid ?

At the moment legal aid or public funding is not available for direct access to barristers, so if you hope to be funded that way you should approach a solicitor.

Are you able to get any publicity for my claim?

I expect many people will come to this site because of what I have written in the media, particularly the Guardian. I am happy to be approached for this reason, but it should be remembered you are approaching me as a lawyer not a journalist. I can not write about cases I have acted in professionally and I will not be able to use the threat of adverse publicity to obtain a result for my client.

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What other information might we need?

The Bar Council has an informative website, which sets out what barristers and solicitors both do http://www.barcouncil.org.uk.