The first point to note is that you cannot instruct NIPC Law as such because we are neither a firm nor a limited company, but you can instruct one or more of our members. Each of them is a barrister in independent private practice. None of them is in partnership with, superior or subordinate to, any other member.
You can instruct any of us directly under the Public Access scheme or you can ask a solicitor, patent attorney or, in some cases, Licensed or Public Access intermediary to instruct your chosen barrister on your behalf. If you ask an intermediary to instruct us he or she will probably charge you for preparing our instructions but in many instances you may still save money in the long run because he or she should be able to save our time.
Whether you instruct us directly or through an intermediary it will be you who will eventually pay our bill. You are therefore entitled to choose your barrister. Sometimes your solicitor or attorney may be able to help you make that choice, but not always. If, for instance, yours is the first patent case that your solicitor has had for a while his knowledge of who does what at the patent bar is likely to be out of date. Also, they may recommend a practitioner because he or she has done good work for them in another area of law but that barrister may not be so good at intellectual property.
So how do you choose your barrister? Consider the nature of the work and the sort of barrister it needs in terms of qualification, knowledge and experience. Our members are encouraged to publish particulars of their practices, career progression, reported cases, publications, hourly rates and other relevant information on this website. If you want an estimate for a particular job full in our “Request an Estimate” form. If you have any more questions contact our clerk, Jill Hayfield, on 0800 862 0055 or 07976 355664. If you want to talk to any of our counsel she can arrange for one of them to call you back. Compare the information that we give you with what you know or can find out about the other professionals you or your advisors have in mind. Weigh up each candidate’s qualities and then choose the one with the best fit.
If you choose one of us contact Jill on 0800 862 0055 or 07976 355664 and tell her who you want to instruct and what you would like him or her to do. She can usually tell you straightaway whether that barrister will be able to help you. If that barrister is not available or there is somebody better placed to do the work Jill may suggest someone else. You do not have to accept her suggestion but remember it will be someone we know and trust who shares our commitment to the NIPC mission.
If Jill can help you she will ask for evidence of identity to comply with the legislation against money laundering. If you come to is direct, she will need to see your driving licence or passport and a recent utility bill. If you are coming to us on behalf of a company she will also need to see the company’s certificate of incorporation, memorandum and articles of association, its latest accounts and evidence that you are authorized to act for that company. If you come to us through a solicitor, patent or trade mark attorney, foreign lawyer or other professional intermediary we shall rely on that intermediary to carry out the money laundering checks.
Once those checks have been carried out, Jill will negotiate with you a specification of the work, the date on which it is to be done and a fee or charging rate. The basis upon which we compute fees are set out on the Fees page. If you come to us through a solicitor, patent or trade mark attorney or other intermediary, the barrister will contract with that intermediary. If you come to us direct the barrister will contract directly with you and your contract will incorporate our Public Access Terms. As soon as everything is agreed Jill will send you or your intermediary a client care letter or email summarizing the agreement.
Should there be any difficulty that is likely to prevent or delay the completion of the work we will be in touch with you as soon as possible to explain the difficulty and offer you a satisfactory alternative. That does not happen very often and when it does it is nearly always because of a factor outside our reasonable control or anticipation such as serious illness or some other emergency.
Our Code of Conduct requires us to deal with complaints promptly and fairly and our Complaints Policy follows the Bar Council recommendation. If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of our service you can complain or renew your complaint to our regulator. Our regulator is itself answerable to the Legal Services Board. All our barristers are insured against professional negligence claims by the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund.
As we monitor our members’ performance with a view to improving our services, we should be grateful if you will take the trouble to complete our Counsel Feedback form.