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Stoke Newington Chambers

I don’t shoot from the hip

Annie Oakley

I got an enquiry from a man the other day. His adult son attended a voluntary interview at the police station, refused a solicitor and awaits hearing whether he’ll be charged or not.

Dad was hoping that as I am a barrister authorised to conduct litigation, I would be able to get legal aid and represent his son from start to finish. I told him that solicitors bid for legal aid contracts – and that his son would be better served finding a solicitors’ firm which does have a legal aid contract. If the son is indeed charged at some point down the road, he can tell the solicitor that he wants me to be his barrister.

With no papers and only Dad’s understanding of his son’s case, he asked me,

“If the police want to interview my son again, should he go no comment?”

I explained to Dad that I don’t shoot from the hip – and couldn’t possibly say.

Leaving aside the fact that I was speaking to a father and not the potential client himself, it’s often the case that people’s impression of what they are facing is different to what the paperwork says.

Dad wanted to know what he would be looking at for fees – and I told him I didn’t know.

The reason why I can’t give, “off the cuff” advice or state a fee without seeing the papers is that you need to be able to rely on any advice I give or work I carry out. Padden v Bevan Ashford says so.

As I can’t possibly know what the true state of play is without seeing the actual documented case against you, in Criminal & Motoring matters, you’d need to bring the Charge Sheet, MG5 and Witness Statements to our consultation. That, of course, is after we’ve spoken and confirmed that I am available for the date of the trial – and you are eligible for my legal services.

When it comes to your liberty, livelihood or licence, the last thing a person needs is a lawyer who shoots from the hip. Lawyers who give “off the cuff” advice are not doing you any favours – and that’s why I don’t do it.

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