STOBART GROUP DRIVES INTO LEGAL SERVICES MARKET
22 May, 2012
Household name to provide new intermediary service to link members of the public and businesses direct with barristers
UK-leading logistics business, the Stobart Group, has launched a new service that will link members of the public and businesses direct to a barrister without needing to employ a solicitor.
Stobart Barristers, which offers access to a UK-wide network of specialist barristers for any area of law, uses a pricing model under which its clients agree and pay a fixed-fee through a ‘pay-as-you-go’ model during the litigation process.
The new division, headed up by the Group’s legal director Trevor Howarth, has been formed following Stobart’s decision to employ its own barristers without a solicitor in 2008, a move which has created significant savings on the company’s annual legal fees.
Members of the public, or businesses, have been able to engage direct with barristers since the introduction of Direct Public Access (DPA) legislation in 2004.
Research carried out by the Populus Omnibus of more than 2,000 UK adults revealed that just 14 per cent we aware of DPA and only 22 per cent said they would know how to engage with a barrister without using a solicitor.
Stobart Barristers says its fixed fee model will help it unlock a latent demand for barristers’ services citing the same Omnibus research in which 55 per cent of UK adults said they would not pursue legal action due to uncertainty over a final cost.
Once its clients have received a barrister’s opinion, which the service would typically look to deliver in under seven days, its sister company Stobart Barrister Support Services can provide the necessary paralegal support to help a barrister prepare their case instead of a solicitor.
Overall, Stobart says that its fixed fee model of delivering barrister’s services will be up to 50 per cent cheaper than if provided via a solicitor.
Stobart Barristers also provides one of the few ways for members of the public to pay for a barrister’s service as despite the introduction of DPA legislation barristers are still not allowed to accept fees direct from members of the public.
Trevor Howarth, Stobart Barrister’s managing director, said: “This is a new market for the Group and one where we see significant potential to grow by offering the public the chance to benefit from a model we have successfully honed for our own business over the past few years.
“The legal services industry continues to undergo significant changes that are allowing new entrants to the market with innovative business models to provide faster and less expensive services than those offered under traditional models.
“DPA has been around for around eight years now but it hasn’t been widely adopted because consumers and businesses don’t know where to look or which barrister to pick, leaving many to still having to rely on the advice of their solicitor.
“But in doing so they are forced to pay significant fees. Our model cuts out waste and opens up access to a national panel of barristers that are selected for their ability to meet our clients’ needs.”
The Populus research also revealed that 36 per cent of people said they had not pursued legal action because of feeling out of control of the litigation process
Trevor continued: “Critically, people want assurances over what financial liabilities they may have if they were to pursue a litigation process but typically face an open ended process where costs remain unknown.
“Through providing a fixed-fee service we can help give people greater clarity over what level of exposure they face.”
The service will operate a confidential call line seven days a week from 8am to 10pm.