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Court proceedings: New rule on instruction Counsel

Under a ruling that has been issued by the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates in Scotland, counsel will no longer need to have a solicitor with them when instructed to appear in civil courts and tribunals. Traditionally, an agent of the client, normally the client’s solicitor, had to be in court when counsel appeared, in case an issue arose on which counsel required immediate instructions. The new ruling enables counsel to appear without a solicitor, provided adequate instructions have been given. It will, of course, still be open to solicitors to accompany counsel when this is considered necessary. According to the Dean of the Faculty, the new ruling was influenced by modern communications which mean that counsel can contact their instructing solicitors quickly when required.

The ruling is a significant development and it has been estimated that it could lead to savings of several hundred pounds a day for clients involved in court hearings as they may no longer have to meet the cost of an accompanying solicitor, in addition to counsel’s fees.

The new ruling came into effect at the start of the new legal year on 24th September and brings the position in Scotland in line with that in England and Wales.

By Catherine Hart

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