AQA A-Level Law Revision NotesWatch this thread
I am studying AS level law, which covers Units 1 and 2, so for now those will be the Units/Chapters covered. Word document(s) have been attached with the notes I have written so far, and they can also be found under the subheadings below:
AQA Law AS Chapter 7: The Legal Profession and Other Sources of Advice and Funding
Qualifications and training
• Barristers must be graduates, although their degree need not be m law. If it is not, they must take the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) or the CPE (Common Professional Examination).
• In order to continue their professional training, potential barristers must become a member of one of the four Inns of Court: Gray's Inn, Lincoln's Inn, Inner Temple or Middle Temple.
• Before being 'called to the Bar' by his or her Inn, the student must be accepted for and complete the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) which teaches the practical skills of advocacy and drafting pleadings and negotiation.
• The student must also have 'dined in' on twelve occasions (this rule now includes attending residential courses).
• Having been called to the Bar on passing the BFTC, the student must obtain a one-year pupillage at a set of chambers with an experienced barrister, who acts as a 'pupil master'.
• After the first six months of pupillage, barristers can appear in court in minor cases by themselves. A programme of continuing education is organised by the Bar Council during this period.
• To practise as an independent barrister (as a member of the Bar), the barrister finally has to secure a tenancy in a set of chambers.
Types of work
• Barristers belong to a 'referral profession'. This means that members of the public usually consult a solicitor first, who will then instruct a barrister if it is considered necessary.
• Barristers may be engaged directly by certain professionals, such as accountants, and since 1996, by members of the public whose cases have been handled by Citizens Advice Bureaux staff.
• In 2004, the Bar Council permitted Direct Public Access (DPA), whereby for the first time any individual or company may go to a barrister directly for advice in civil law matters.
• Under the 'cab-rank' rule barristers are obliged to accept any case referred to them, provided it lies within their legal expertise, the appropriate fee has been agreed and they are available at the time to accept the brief.
• Most of the work of barristers involves advocacy in any court, as they have full rights of audience in all English courts.
• The other main activity of barristers is as specialists, drafting documents and providing specialist advice to solicitors on behalf of clients. This is known as 'counsel's opinions'.
• Most barristers are self-employed and work in chambers, although approximately 20 per cent are 'employed barristers' and work for an employer in industry, commerce or central or local government.
•Barristers work from a set of chambers with other barristers and share administrative and accommodation expenses. A clerk is employed, whose work involves booking cases and negotiating fees.
• After ten years in practice, barristers may apply to the Lord Chancellor to become a Queen's Counsel or QC, which is called 'taking silk' as they wear a court gown made of silk. Approximately 10 per cent of barristers are QCs.
• QCs are usually specialist barristers in a particular area of law and as such will undertake more challenging cases, especially appeals to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
Qualifications and training
• Solicitors usually have a university degree, but not necessarily a law degree.
• Any other degree or a non-qualifying law degree must be followed by the Graduate Diploma in Law
(GDL) - one-year full-time course, or two years part-time, or the Common Professional Exam (CPE).
• After completing a law degree or GDL, those wanting to become solicitors take the Legal Practice
• Trainee solicitors must complete a two-year training contract with a firm of solicitors, during which
they have to complete a 20-day professional skills course.
• Once these qualifications have been achieved, individuals are entered on to the rolls of the Law Society and are entitled to practise as solicitors.
• After qualifying, solicitors must continue their professional development by attending regular training courses.
• While the majority of solicitors who qualify each year are graduates, it is possible to qualify as a fellow of the institute of Legal Executives and then pass the LPC - approximately 17 per cent of selectors qualify this way.
Types of work
• Most of their work involves giving legal advice to clients and carrying out non-contentious work, including conveyancing (dealing with the legal requirements of buying and selling property) and probate (drafting wills and acting as executors for the estates of deceased persons).
• Other non-contentious work includes drawing up contracts and setting up companies.
• Solicitors can act as advocates and represent clients in both Magistrates' and County Courts, in which they have 'rights of audience'.
• The opportunity to obtain rights of audience in the higher courts was first made possible by the
Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 and extended in the Access to Justice Act 1999. For rights of audience in the higher courts, solicitors have to qualify as solicitor-advocates.
• Solicitors do more advocacy work than barristers, since 97 per cent of all criminal cases are tried in Magistrates' Courts, where both the prosecuting and the defending lawyer are solicitors.
• Even where a barrister has been instructed to represent a client in a court case, the solicitor still has an important role in doing the preliminary work to prepare the case
• Solicitors usually work in partnerships. There has been a trend in recent years for firms of solicitors
to merge into larger partnerships, which in turn has led to increasing specialisation.
Qualifications and training
• The minimum academic qualification is four GCSEs including English Language.
• Five years' work-based training in a solicitor's office.
• Pass the ILEX Professional Diploma (Level 3) - equivalent to A Level.
• Pass the ILEX Higher Diploma (Level 6) - equivalent to honours degree.
Work of legal executives
• The role of a Legal Executive lawyer is very similar to that of a solicitor as they will have their own clients (with full conduct of cases).
• Legal executives undertake preparation of court cases and provide representation in court where appropriate.
• They are also responsible for general legal work such as property sales, drafting wills, drawing up
documents, family law and crime.
• Legal executives may also work for a local authority or private company.
Evaluation of the legal profession
• Although barristers and solicitors traditionally have different roles, they are increasingly in competition with each other. Solicitors can now become solicitor advocates and take on cases in the Crown Court and High Court; barristers now have more opportunities to deal directly with clients/ rather than being referred work by solicitors.
• The main advantage for the public in using barristers and solicitors is that they are legal experts who collectively have experience in all aspects of legal work. In particular, they are uniquely experienced in preparing and conducting court cases and can help litigants present the best possible case.
• Their main disadvantage is the cost, with many solicitors charging several hundred pounds an hour. The dual system of using a solicitor to prepare the case and a barrister to conduct will also further increase costs.
• Increasingly both barristers and solicitors are avoiding the less well-paid work; this means it may be very difficult to find a lawyer prepared to do welfare or low level criminal work.
Background and diversity
• The legal profession has an image of being largely made up of white men and at more senior levels
this is still true.
• Both branches are becoming more diverse, however, and women now account for nearly half of all working solicitors and nearly a third of practising barristers.
• In 2008 almost a quarter of people admitted as solicitors and 15 per cent of practising barristers were
from ethnic minority backgrounds.
• Of those who were appointed as QCs in 2011, nearly a quarter were women and 10 per cent were
from ethnic minorities.
Sources of advice for civil cases
• Usually readily available in all towns and cities and are able to offer professional legal advice to clients on a wide range of civil problems - family law, wills and probate, civil claims, employment, consumer problems, property law and conveyancing.
• In more difficult cases, solicitors will recommend obtaining counsel's opinion from a specialist barrister.
• Solicitors are expensive and will probably charge at least £200-£300 per hour.
Citizens' Advice Bureaux (CAB)
• These are free of charge to the public and are funded by the Community Legal Service (CLS) and local authorities.
• Staff are generally not legally qualified; however, in matters such as housing, welfare benefits and debt counselling, they will have as much experience as many solicitors.
• There are only about 60 Law Centres in England and Wales and, like CAB, they are funded by the
CLS and local authorities and the advice they provide is free.
• They employ qualified solicitors and barristers who will advise mainly on housing, employment, welfare and immigration problems.
• Law Centres do not deal with conveyancing or probate.
Private legal insurance
• Private insurance policies will provide legal advice and representation to policy holders, covering most types of legal problem which could result in litigation.
• The most common are motor and house insurance policies which will provide legal advice and representation in the event of litigation arising from a road traffic accident or from an injury arising
from a house accident, such as a falling tile which strikes a passer-by. This type of cover will be provided very cheaply as part of the policy.
Trades unions and professional bodies
• Trades unions and professional bodies provide advice and legal representation in any dispute involving employment, such as unfair dismissal, discrimination and redundancy.
• An example of a professional body is the British Medical Association (BMA) which represents doctors
Other sources of advice
• These include independent advice centres run by charities like Age UK and Shelter and advice services provided by local authorities.
Advantages of sources of advice for civil cases
• Solicitors are widely available and can provide specialist legal advice. They also have access to further specialist help from barristers.
• A solicitor or barrister will be able to provide help with every aspect of a problem, including representation at court.
• CABs and Law Centres are free and often have staff who specialise in housing, welfare or debt problems, which many solicitors will not want to take on.
• Law Centres employ qualified solicitors and barristers and can provide expert legal advice.
• Private legal insurance and membership of a trade union or professional association will provide access to high quality specialist help for every aspect of a qualifying problem.
Disadvantages of sources of advice for civil cases
• Solicitors are expensive and many individual solicitors specialise m a particular aspect of law, meaning that someone with a range of problems may have to consult a number of different lawyers.
• Other sources of advice are also likely to be limited to certain kinds of legal problem. • Help from trade unions and professional associations are only available to members.
Sources of funding for civil cases
• In April 2013 the Legal Aid Agency was set up to administer legal aid and advice (replacing the Legal Services Commission). The Civil Legal Advice scheme (CLA) operates under the Legal Aid
Agency umbrella and is responsible for providing advice and help relating to state funding for civil
• The CLA scheme may provide legal help, which covers advice from a solicitor who has a contract with the CLA, help at court or legal representation.
• Eligibility for funding depends on a means test, which considers an appUcant's disposable income and capital. Those whose income and capital are below the minimum limits will pay no contributions, but if income or capital is between the lower and upper limits, a contribution must be paid.
• There is also a merits test to ensure that such funding is only given where the case has a good
prospect of success and where the award of damages will exceed the costs of the case.
• From April 2013 civil legal aid has been withdrawn from many types of cases and availability in civil cases is now very limited.
• Help provided by CABs, Law Centres and many other organisations is free, but will probably only cover advice and not representation in court.
Advantages of state funding
• It provides help for the poorest and most vulnerable people.
• State funding covers a range of services, including representation at court, which is not available
from CABs or advice agencies.
• Help is free for the very poorest.
Disadvantages of state funding
• Availability of civil legal aid is very limited and many types of legal problems no longer qualify.
• Eligibility levels mean that only people with very low levels of income or capital qualify for help.
• Where civil legal aid is available, it is still subject to severe means testing, and most people who are eligible are required to make a significant personal contribution.
• A statutory charge may be applied to money or property 'recovered or preserved'. The charge may result in the 'claw-back' of all the claimant's damages, which, as far as the client is concerned, may make the whole action a waste of time.
• When a legally aided client loses a case, it is difficult and often impossible for the opponent to get costs back, as would normally happen in a civil case. This places the legally aided client at an unfair advantage.
• Legal aid costs about £2 billion a year and because there is a cap on how much can be spent, some cases which might otherwise qualify are not funded.
Conditional fee agreement (CFA) scheme
• Under the CFA scheme, solicitors and barristers can agree to take no fee if they lose a case and are able, if they win, to raise their fee up to a maximum of double the usual rate.
• In order to ensure money is available to pay the other side's legal costs if the case is lost, the Law Society has arranged an 'after-the-event' insurance scheme whereby, for a relatively small amount, the claimant's liability for such costs is covered.
Advantages of the CFA scheme
• No cost to the state, since costs are entirely borne by the solicitor or the client, depending on the outcome of the case.
• Supporters of this scheme argue that, as well as saving public money; the CFA scheme allows the
government to fund properly those cases that still need state support and to direct more funds towards suppliers of free legal advice, such as the CAB.
• Anyone can bring a case for damages. One of the strongest arguments in favour of the CFA scheme
is that it allows cases to be brought by many people who would not have been eligible for legal aid.
• It provides wider coverage since it looks likely that the CFA scheme may be allowed for defamation actions and cases brought before tribunals - two major gaps in the existing legal aid scheme.
• The CFA scheme discourages frivolous or weak cases. In recent years, apparently trivial cases have
been dragged through the courts at public expense, seemingly confirming the view that both solicitors and the Legal Services Commission, which ran civil legal aid until April 2013, were unable to apply the merits test sufficiently rigorously.
Disadvantages of the CFA scheme
• It is an inadequate substitute for legal aid in uncertain cases. Most of those who have criticised the CFA scheme accept that in uncertain cases it is a good addition to the state-funded legal aid system, but are concerned that it may not be adequate as a substitute for it.
• Solicitors may only take on cases they are likely to win. Critics, including the Bar, the Law Society and the Legal Action Group have expressed strong concerns that certain types of case will lose out under the CFA scheme.
• Insurance premiums to cover losing are high. Most concern is expressed about medical negligence cases, which are generally difficult for claimants to win - the success rate is around 17 per cent compared to 85 per cent for other personal injury actions.
• Pressure to settle out of court. The claimant may feel pressured by his or her lawyer to settle out of court (as this guarantees the latter's uplift fee). If this happened, the claimant would potentially receive lower damages than if the case had been pursued in court.
• There may be conflict of interest between the solicitor and the client. There is evidence that in some cases lawyers' advice about settlement may be influenced by their need to be paid rather than
by the strict merits of any settlement offer.
Private and other sources of funding
• Private funding from a solicitor or barrister could be very expensive and in practice is only an option for businesses and wealthy individuals.
• Many solicitors will offer a free half-hour interview and some will even offer their services pro bono (free of charge) in particular cases.
Advantages of private and other sources of funding
• For people who are members of trade unions or who have insurance cover, help is available to fund whatever legal services are required as long as the legal problem qualifies under that particular scheme.
• Private funding has the advantage that you can choose the lawyer you want and therefore get the very best specialist help available.
• CABs, Law Centres, charities and local authorities may provide free advice which will not be means
Disadvantages of private and other sources of funding
• With increasing specialisation within larger solicitors' firms, many solicitors will no longer be able to offer advice across such a wide range of issues.
• The help provided by trade unions and insurance companies will be limited to its members and will only cover certain kinds of legal problem.
• Private funding is very expensive and just a few hours' work from a solicitor could cost several
• Advice agencies like CABs only provide advice and not representation at court.
Sources of advice, representation and funding for criminal cases
• State funding in criminal cases is available through the Criminal Defence Service (CDS), which since
April 2013 has been part of the Legal Aid Agency. The CDS provides advice and representation, supplied either through private practice solicitors and barristers or through the Public Defender Service (PDS). This is a salaried service, available 24 hours a day to give advice to people in custody and to represent them at court.
• Unlike legal aid in civil cases, state-funded criminal defence continues to be given on a demand-led
basis. This means that, although the total legal aid budget is fixed, there is no set limit for criminal
legal aid, and all cases that meet the merits and means tests are funded.
• For those who do not qualify for legal aid the only real option is private funding of a solicitor and
• A person in custody at a police station is entitled to free legal advice or assistance. This can be from
their solicitor or from a duty solicitor, or from the PDS.
Duty solicitor scheme
• The duty solicitor scheme was originally created under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act
(PACE) 1984 to provide a right to legal advice for suspects detained in police stations.
• It ensures access to a solicitor for advice and assistance is available 24 hours a day, free of charge and without means or merits tests.
• Advice will usually be given by telephone because since 2004, solicitors cannot claim for attending
in person unless there are special circumstances.
• At Magistrates' Courts, there is normally a duty solicitor available to give free advice on a defendants’ first appearance if he or she does not have his or her own solicitor.
Criminal legal aid
• Criminal legal aid covers all types of criminal proceedings and pays for a solicitor to prepare the case and represent a client in court. It also covers the cost of a barrister, particularly if the case is
heard in the Crown Court.
• The decision whether to grant legal aid is based on the court deciding whether it is in the interests of justice to grant legal aid:
* Guidelines are set out in the Legal Aid Act 1988 outlining the kind of issues that the court needs to consider, for example, the defendant risks losing their livelihood; complex legal issues are involved; the defendant has language difficulties.
* For serious cases such as murder or rape, and in other cases where there is a risk of imprisonment, it will always be in the interests of justice to provide it.
* For less serious cases, such as minor motoring or non-imprisonable offences, it is less likely that legal aid will be granted.
• As part of the decision to grant legal aid, the court also applies a means test and looks into the applicant's financial position and the likely cost of the case:
* Applicants with the lowest means receive free legal aid, whatever the costs of the case. - Applicants with more substantial means will not be granted legal aid if they can afford the likely costs.
* If the likely costs are large, applicants with reasonable means may be granted legal aid, but the court can require an applicant to pay a contribution towards the cost of the case from both income and capital if he or she appears able to do so.
* Judges in the Crown Court are able to order convicted defendants to pay some or all of the cost of their representation.
• The provision of free legal advice to suspects in police stations is an important safeguard and protection for potentially vulnerable people.
• The duty solicitor scheme in Magistrates' Courts ensures that everyone appearing for the first time
has access to legal advice and help. Duty solicitors can, for example, apply for bail and advise defendants on whether to plead guilty or not guilty.
• Ensures that everyone charged with a serious offence has proper representation. Defendants charged with the most serious offences have access to the very best criminal barristers.
• Defence lawyers can fully investigate the evidence and prepare the most effective defence for the defendant.
• Since the merits test concentrates on the seriousness of the charge and its possible penalty, it is more difficult for defendants to get legal aid for minor offences. Only about half of all defendants receive free legal aid at the Magistrates' Court, and about three out of four at the Crown Court.
• A conviction for a motoring offence or another non-imprisonable offence may still be very serious and may affect a person's livelihood. The 'interests of justice' test means that they will probably not qualify for legal aid, so they may have great difficulty in preparing an effective defence if they decide
to represent themselves.
• The only other option for such people is to privately fund their legal representation/ which will potentially be very expensive, especially if a barrister as well as a solicitor is used.
• Even if legal aid is granted the defendant may be asked to pay a contribution towards the costs of
the case. In practice this may penalise thrifty and responsible defendants who have savings and benefit those who have squandered their resources.
Feel free to post your own notes below. Enjoy
Thank you for chapter 7 notes. they are really good, please can you send me any other notes you have made.
I think they would be really useful.
just about to start second year.
Good luck with your results