David Bartos advocate, Edinburgh, Scotland

FAQ Category - Advocate Services - For Scots Solicitors

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How do I go about instructing you ?

There is no mystery. First of all it may be helpful if you telephone me + 44 (0) 131 226 5071 or send me an e-mail so that I can have a general idea of the matter. 

In order to instruct me you should send a letter, fax or e-mail of instruction to my practice manager Emma Potter of Terra Firma Chambers setting out –
•    the facts of the case or legal matter (bearing in mind that I know little or nothing about it);
•    what the client (or you) are seeking to achieve;
•    what you wish me to do (including any specific questions you wish me to answer);
•    any time limit for the job;
•    if the fee is not to be paid immediately on issue of an invoice, details of the legal aid reference or the occasion on which the fee is to be paid

You should also enclose (preferably copies of) all relevant documents (e.g. –
•    correspondence,
•    expert reports,
•    precognitions/witness statements,
•    written pleadings,
•     court productions,
•    lists of witnesses and documents)
arranged under these headings and in chronological order. A lever arch file is a great help in organizing documents. All of this saves time and money and lessens the scope for confusion.

The letter and documents can be sent by DX or Legal Post as well as ordinary post, fax and e-mail.

If I can’t do the work within a reasonable time or I am not available on the relevant date, my clerk or deputy clerk will contact you to explain the difficulty and suggest alternative solutions.

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I am a solicitor from outwith Edinburgh. Do I need to get an Edinburgh solicitor to instruct you ?

You do not need to get an Edinburgh solicitor to instruct me either to give an opinion or to appear in any court, including the Court of Session. Indeed you do not need to be an Edinburgh solicitor to sign a Court of Session summons.

However if your client becomes involved in a Court of Session litigation you will need to do everything that would be expected of an Edinburgh solicitor conducting a litigation there e.g. checking the Rolls of Court, arranging for someone to appear with me, e.t.c.. At that stage it could be useful to appoint an Edinburgh solicitor.

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Can I meet you to explain the case and receive advice ?

Yes, this is done at a meeting known as a “consultation”. As an advocate I can and do consult around Scotland in solicitors’ offices and at the Advocates’ consultation rooms at 142 High Street, Edinburgh. If necessary I can consult with video and audio conferencing.
In a land dispute it can be particularly useful to consult at the site of the dispute. I can consult in England and abroad.

It is important that some form of agenda for the consultation is fixed beforehand so that I can prepare for it properly. The client or an expert witness may be present at the consultation.

The consultation is booked by phoning my practice manager or clerk at Terra Firma Chambers.

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What are the benefits of a consultation ?

There are many. The main benefits are –

•    client and I can meet each other

•    the client can ask me questions direct

•    I can obtain often important information from the client direct which might not otherwise emerge

•    The client’s evidence can be clarified and misunderstandings avoided

•    If the consultation is with an expert witness I can obtain information and clarification from the expert which might otherwise be difficult to obtain through letters and assess him

•    If the client is present with an expert witness he can assess the expert witness

•    If the consultation is a site inspection, the dispute can be pictured more readily and potential lines of investigation revealed or discarded.

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How much will it cost ?

This will depend on factors such as the nature, complexity, urgency and value of the work and the time taken up by it. The idea is that the fee will be reasonable taking those factors into account. Where the work is the preparation for and appearance at a hearing it is normal to charge a daily rate for the hearing which includes all preparation. Fixed fees can be negotiated.

Please contact my practice manager Emma Potter for a better idea of the cost of proposed work.

In exceptional cases I may be able to act in court proceedings on a “no win no fee” (speculative) basis with increased fees in the event of success to reflect the risk of carrying out substantial work for no payment. For this to happen the client would have to be ineligible for legal aid and be unable to afford the litigation. In fairness I would expect that you would be acting on a “no win no fee” basis.

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What is the position on payment of fees ?

Generally you have a professional duty to pay the fees. The detailed position regarding liability for payment of fees, the issue of invoices, and the payment of fees is set out in the Faculty's revised 2008 Scheme for Accounting and Recovery of Counsel's fees which applies for instructions from 30 September 2008. The previous 2008 scheme applied to instructions from 10 January 2008 and before that there was a  2002 Scheme

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What are your standards of service ?

I follow the Guide To the Professional Conduct of Advocates which sets out my professional duties as an advocate.

It is better for all concerned to agree a timescale for the completion of work. If a timescale for completion of the work has not been agreed or indicated at the point of instruction, my aim is to complete the work within 2 weeks of receipt of instructions. I say "aim" because in all honesty and with maximum effort it may not be possible to do this. There may be further information that I have asked for which has not been obtained within that period. There may be other urgent work which requires to take precedence (for details see the Guide to Professional Conduct, paragraph 8. 4 and following). The work itself (or the other work) may be more time consuming and complex than anticipated. More haste may be less speed. There may be other difficulties.

If you are expecting to hear from me and no timescale has been agreed, I or my practice manager or clerk will be in touch at the end of the 2 weeks to indicate the situation. If the matter cannot wait, I am happy to pass the work back to my practice manager for passing on to another advocate of your choice. My practice manager or her clerk can advise of suitable alternatives.

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If I am unhappy with the level of fees charged what do I do ?

You should let my clerk or deputy clerk know in writing as soon as possible and in any event within one calendar month of the issue of the invoice. Further details are contained in the 2002 Scheme and 2008 Scheme for Accounting and Recovery of Fees.

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