Why don’t I need to use a solicitor – what’s the catch?
You are saving money because you do not have to use a solicitor, but that means that you have to undertake the office-type work that a solicitor would do on your behalf. But we help you as to what needs to be done, completing court forms and so on. As far as the court and the other side are concerned, you are acting for yourself “but assisted by direct access counsel”.
Things you have to do (with our help):
- issue court documents and pay court fees
- contact witnesses and collect and investigate evidence
- instruct an expert witness
- correspond with the other side
Things that we do:
- provide you with expert legal advice
- assist you to draft correspondence
- help to draft statements from litigants and witnesses
- advise you on suitable experts and draft instructions to expert witnesses
- offer you advice on the next steps to be taken in proceedings
- draft formal court documents
- advocate on your behalf in court
For more information about the Public Access Scheme, please read the Bar Standards Board’s Guide to the Public Access Scheme, and see the relevant section of the Bar Council’s website.
Duration of the Court Process
The first hearing ( the FHDRA -First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment ) should normally be scheduled about three weeks after the application. Contact will be made by the Cafcass Officer in order that it can produce a safeguarding letter to the court and the parties
If the case does not settle then it is likely that a full Cafcass report ( called a section 7 report ) is ordered and the case will not come back to court for around 14 weeks to allow time for this report to be compiled. The second hearing is a DRA – dispute resolution appointment.
If the case does not settle at this second hearing ( based on the future child arrangement recommendations in the Cafcass report ), the case will go to a final hearing some three months later.
There will be a first hearing ( the FDA – Financial Dispute Appointment ) within three months of application. That hearing is designed to ensure that all financial information required for the progress of the case will be before the court.
The second hearing ( the FDR – Financial Dispute Resolution appointment) will take place three to four months later. This is a hearing at which a judge will consider the respective arguments and indicate what s/he would decide if conducting the final hearing; in the hope that parties will come to an agreement based on those views.
If not the case will go to a final hearing some three months later.