The Bar Council has claimed that figures from an online portal it runs have revealed a ‘surge of interest’ from businesses and people keen to bypass solicitors and instead use direct access barristers to help with their problems.

According to the council, between 1 July 2016 and 1 July 2017 its Direct Access Portal (DAP) – a free-to-use directory of direct access barristers set up in 2015 - handled 150,000 unique searches for barristers. There have been more than 100,000 searches so far this calendar year, the council said - though it was unable to confirm how many people actually used a direct access barrister as a result of a search.

The council claims the figures show that the public and small businesses are ‘increasingly going directly to a barrister for help with their problems rather than first consulting a solicitor’.

Malcolm Cree, chief executive of the Bar Council, said: ‘Traditionally, a member of the public would go to a solicitor with their legal problem and the solicitor would turn to a barrister when needed for their expertise and advocacy skills.

‘That remains the way most barristers work today, but several thousand barristers are now trained to take work directly from the client. The DAP statistics indicate this approach is gaining traction with the public and members of the profession. Potentially, by going directly to a barrister a client could save money because they don’t have to pay a solicitor as well.’

According to the statistics, the areas that the public most often sought help with in are in property, civil and employment law. Also in the top 10 are professional negligence and wills and inheritance matters.