The Public and Licensed Access schemes allow lay clients to instruct barristers directly without first instructing a solicitor or other lawyer.

In order for you to accept instructions via public access, you must complete training specified by us and be registered as a public access practitioner. In carrying out public access work, you must comply with the BSB Handbook and in particular the Public Access Rules, which are Rules C119-C131 of the Code of Conduct.

In order for you to accept instructions via licensed access, the client must either hold a licence issued by us, or be a member of a professional body specified in the Schedules to the BSB’s Licensed Access Recognition Regulations.

It should be noted that the Public and Licensed Access Rules only apply to self-employed barristers, and do not apply to BSB entities as their circumstances may vary considerably. For example, a number of BSB entities are owned and managed by and/or employ solicitors, who are already entitled to accept instructions directly from the public.

However, the Public and Licensed Access Rules provide guidance on best practice to BSB entities. The considerations which BSB entities need to make when working directly with the public are outlined at Guidance S7 of the BSB Handbook.

Public access in more detail

Before you accept public access instructions, you must:

  • hold a full practising certificate;
  • have undertaken and satisfactorily completed a Bar Standards Board approved training course. Details of such courses are available below;
  • notify the Bar Council’s Records Office of your intention to undertake such work; and
  • have appropriate insurance cover as required by the BSB Handbook.

Please also visit our page containing guidance on Public Access Exemptions and how to apply.

Public Access Training requirements

You must complete public access training prior to undertaking public access work.

You may be eligible for a waiver from the training, but you must apply for this. To be eligible for a waiver, you must be able to demonstrate extensive experience of dealing directly with clients (eg in a firm of solicitors) and the associated knowledge and understanding required. For more, please visit our page on Public Access Training and guidance.

If you have fewer than three years' practising experience, you can undertake Public Access work if you have a ”qualified person” who is readily available to provide you with guidance.

More about Licensed Access

Individuals and organisations or OISC immigration advisors can apply for a licence to enable them to instruct a barrister directly.

Please follow the links below for information on the regulations governing licensed access, lists of licences issued by us, and the applications for authorisation or renewal of licensed access.