SAHCA launches referral portal
In an effort to stave off increasing competition from direct access barristers, the Solicitors’ Association of Higher Courts Advocates (SAHCA) has set up its own web site – The Court Advocacy Network (www.sahca-can.org.uk/) – to help ensure that instructions can be given with confidence that the advocate being instructed has had access to the same high quality training and support that SAHCA offers across its whole membership.
SAHCA state that the network has been created:
“to address the problem, frequently encountered by SAHCA’s members, that when they receive instructions to attend a court outside of their region, or in a field in which they are not specialised, they have been forced to resort to instructing agents or members of the Bar. Too often this has resulted in a disappointing outcome, or late return of papers, impacting on the high quality of service that our members’ clients are accustomed to expect.”
With the launch of the Court Advocacy Network, SAHCA members can instruct one another thus minimising the number of cases that need to be referred to barristers.
The growth in direct access web sites by members of the Bar has meant an increase in pressure on the traditional role of the solicitor as the introducer of work into the system. Sites such as Direct Barristers (www.directbarristers.com/), My Barrister (www.mybarrister.co.uk/), Barristers Direct (www.barristersdirect.co/) and the Bar Council approved Direct Access Portal (www.directaccessportal.co.uk/)target the public with claims of higher levels of expertise, cost savings and ease of communication. The Court Advocacy Network is just one way in which solicitors hope to fight back.