For Solicitors

PLEASE SEND INSTRUCTIONS BY EMAIL. It is fine to send the email directly to me. I always carry out a site visit (anywhere in England or Wales) before writing an Opinion and it is easier if the logistics of a site visit are arranged directly with me. When I receive your email I will acknowledge receipt and provide a fixed-fee quote. If the matter is of some urgency and an acknowledgement of receipt from me is not received fairly immediately you can contact my clerk to check my status.

Traditionally the Instructions to Counsel in paper form started with a formal heading for the case, followed by a numbered list of the documents accompanying it, and ended with a backsheet the purpose of which was to act like the cover of a book when the document was folded and tied with pink ribbon. When sending instructions by email, the Instructions to Counsel can be sent in this traditional format as a PDF attachment (no backsheet necessary) but it is equally acceptable if, instead, the email message itself is the Instructions to Counsel. The format of the Instructions to Counsel is not of primary importance as long as it:

If the Instructions are a brief to represent the client at a hearing they will be accompanied by an eBundle.

Since judicial guidance was given in Re: TPS Investments (UK) Ltd [2020] EWHC 1135 (Ch)  that "if counsel is to be briefed... then they should be retained in sufficient time to enable them to advise as to the contents of the electronic bundle" I am increasingly being asked to advise on the contents of the eBundle. The eBundle in its final form will, of course, consist of a large single PDF containing the documents for the hearing  in order, bookmarked, hyperlinked, and indexed in accordance with the directions given by the tribunal, but, if I am being asked to advise in advance on the contents of the eBundle, the documents in the case should be sent, not in a large multi-document bookmarked PDF, but rather as individual documents attached to the emailed instructions so that I can then arrange them in the most useful way for the task in hand. If you have documents stored in a system - such as Bundledocs - designed to produce an eBundle there is usually an option to produce a ZIP file of individual documents instead which you can then send as an email attachment.  

The above also applies if Instructions are being sent at an earlier stage for advice or drafting. If there is as yet no litigation (or there is litigation but the disclosure stage of litigation has not yet been reached) so that disclosure list numbers have not yet been assigned to documents then: 

NOTE RE ANY PREVIOUS DIRECT ACCESS WORK. I carry out direct access work and, for administrative convenience and in order to save costs, I never accept paper copies of documents from the client but rather ask the client to send them as computer files (PDFs for scanned documents,  original JPGs in the case of photos). When I provide a written Opinion to a direct access client I always send with the Opinion a ZIP file containing the documents which I considered when writing the Opinion. The PDFs in the ZIP file will generally be good quality scans of original documents held by the client.

I sometimes find that when, subsequently, the client instructs solicitors, the Instructions I receive in due course from the solicitors are accompanied by poorer quality copies of documents - including sometimes black and white copies of coloured documents - typically because the client has taken photocopies of their documents to the interview with the solicitors which have then been scanned in at the solicitor's office. I can't simply ignore all the copies of documents provided with Instructions, and just refer to the previous ZIP file, because further information received by solicitors from the client may mean that the document copies provided with the Instructions include some extra documents not previously in the ZIP file. Also possibly some documents previously in the ZIP file may not be being provided again with the Instructions because they are now judged not to be relevant in the light of developments. So it is a problem. In order to avoid this problem when sending Instructions on behalf of a client I have previously carried out direct access work for please ask the client for the ZIP file containing good quality scans of documents which I will have sent to them with my previous Opinion. This will mean that at least for documents previously supplied and in the ZIP file - usually the majority - the best available copies can accompany your Instructions.

TELEPHONE AND VIDEO CONFERENCING. I do not accept instructions for a telephone or video conference as I believe it is important that any conference is  face to face and, as I always make a site visit, a conference can take place at the same time. With regard to hearings I prefer in-person hearings but, of course, will accept instructions to appear at video hearings if the tribunal has determined that the hearing is to be remote.   

This page was lasted updated in June 2024          Disclaimer