Barristers are usually briefed by firms of solicitors. In recent times however, there has been a growing trend in both the corporate and government sectors to employ solicitors “in-house”. Consistent with this, there has also been a corresponding increase in the number of in-house counsel who retain barristers directly. This is known as “direct briefing”.
Here you will find information for in-house solicitors who are considering direct briefing. You will also find information about the circumstances in which a barrister can accept instructions, without an interposing solicitor, or what is known as “direct access”.
DIRECT BRIEFING: In house solicitors with current practising certificates can brief barristers directly.
The ability to engage List G Barristers directly offers significant advantages to in-house counsel for general advisory work, pre-litigation strategy advice and, where suitable, some court appearances.
These advantages may include cost benefits, and the opportunity to establish a direct relationship with a specialist advisor who appears regularly before courts and tribunals. As a result of this, List G Barristers are well placed to provide up-to-date expertise on how issues are interpreted by the judiciary and better assist clients to make informed decisions about strategic and litigious issues.
In-house solicitors from any jurisdiction can retain a List G Barrister to give advice.
In the case of litigious matters, List G Barristers can appear on the instructions of an in-house solicitor, in the following circumstances:
- if the case is to be heard in a Victorian court, the in-house solicitor holds a Victorian practising certificate; and
- if the case is to be heard in a court outside Victoria, the in-house solicitor holds a practising certificate in the jurisdiction in which the case is heard.
- if the case is to be heard in a federal court (regardless of its location), the in-house solicitor is entitled to practise in that federal court.
DIRECT ACCESS: In certain circumstances, a barrister can act on instructions from a person who is not a solicitor. The Victorian Bar governs the manner in which this can occur through the “Direct Access Rules.”
Generally, the direct access work undertaken by List G Barristers is limited to pre-litigation advice work and usually comes from corporations or government departments who may not employ in-house solicitors.
Links to the Direct Access Rules and other related documents are set out below::
- Direct access – Victorian Bar Rules
- Victorian Bar – approved bodies for direct access briefs
- Disclosure Statement & Costs Agreement for direct access
- Conditional Costs Agreement and Disclosure Statement for direct access
Any in-house solicitors or non-lawyers seeking further information about direct briefing and direct access should, in the first instance, contact our CEO and Senior Clerk, Jane King.
Our Clerking team is available at any time to discuss your requirements and answer frequently asked questions such as:
- “is my matter appropriate for direct briefing / direct access?”
- “which List G Barrister would best suit my matter?”
- “what should I include in the brief?”
- “how are fees and administrative matters managed”
 Victorian Bar Rule 126 contains the general prohibition on acting other than on the instructions of a solicitor. Rule 126(e) confers the ability to advise on instructions from a “solicitor or legal practitioner entitled to practise in any relevant jurisdiction.”
 Section 2.4.3 of the Legal Profession Act 2004 provides for a range of “practising certificates” including that of a “corporate practising certificate”.
 In the case of other Australian States, see Victorian Bar Rule 126(6). In the case of places outside Australia see Victorian Bar Rule 126(d).
 Victorian Bar Rule 126(c).
 As permitted by Victorian Bar Rules 171 and 127 (7.18).
 As permitted by Victorian Bar Rule 127 (7.14).