Eddie Stobart Lorries Launches Barrister Arm

The deregulation of the legal market has thrown up its most unlikely result yet: haulage firm Stobart Group, which grew out of Eddie Stobart lorries, has unveiled Stobart Barristers.

The project, which is being led by Stobart’s legal director Trevor Howarth, will link individuals and businesses directly to a barrister, cutting out the solicitor middleman. The idea for it came about after the Stobart legal team began working directly with barristers in 2008 – an arrangement that was made possible by the scrapping in 2004 of the rule requiring barristers to be instructed via a solicitor. The team has been so impressed by the savings it made that it believes it can operate barrister direct instruction as a business in its own right.

Howarth said: “Consumers don’t know where to look or which barrister to pick, leaving many to still having to rely on the advice of their solicitor. But in doing so they are forced to pay significant fees. Our model cuts out waste and opens up access to a national panel of barristers that are selected for their ability to meet our clients’ needs.”

He added: “This is a new market for the group and one where we see significant potential to grow by offering the public the chance to benefit from a model we have successfully honed for our own business over the past few years.”

Legal Cheek has so far been unable to confirm rumours that the Stobart Group will offer top-up lorry driving shifts to cash-strapped junior barristers instructed under its new service.

But judging by Stobart legal director Howarth’s blog, in which he argues that the fat needs to be trimmed from an “archaic sector”, such innovations may not be far off.

9 Responses to “Eddie Stobart Lorries Launches Barrister Arm”

  1. kris

    Remember the days when being a barrister or solicitor was a profession?

    I despair.

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  2. Mike farrell-deveau

    Interesting article. i note that the blog mentions the fact that you still cant directly pay a barrister directly, somin effect Stobart are not getting rid of an intermediary but merely replacing one to become that same intermediary themselves. Will be interesting to see the fees that they will charge for the service. What I would like to know is if it is so difficult for members of the public to know where to go for legal services, what on earth is going to make them seek services from what is effectively known primarily as a haulage company clogging up the lanes of the M6 and A1? There isnt really a logical progression there, haulage company to legal services. Hmmm.
    What i truly believe needs to happen for legal services to be properly deregulated and opened up for consumers is the removal of the rights of audience barrier for solicitors and a leveling of the profession throughout. Get rid of the distinction between barristers and solicitors and simply have ‘lawyers’ all of whom can take a case from client contact and case prep all the way to court if necessary without the split of professions. The ability of solicitors to become solicitor advocates is not enough, especially when it seems that things are being slowly loaded in favour of the bar at present. When that happens costs technically could be cut and access to justice could be improved.

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    • Josie

      I couldn’t agree more Mike. More and more people are becoming wise to the idea of direct access barristers because that’s how simple and painless it should be to get legal advice. Having to go through the costly, time consuming process of hiring a solicitor first seems absurd when they are essentially qualified and experienced the same. But as ‘Barrister Bill’ has rightly said, there are some cases that will need solicitors and that will probably stick.

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  3. APM

    This is bizarre.

    Using the Stobart brand name will probably confuse people and may actually put people off from using the service – not a wise move in my opinion.

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  4. RT

    Has Eddie Stobart realised that ties and double-barrel names aren’t unique selling points in this market?

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  5. Eugene

    Interesting, beware barrister cannot conduct litigation, so the work preparing the case for the barristers had to be done somewhere. If not solicitors , it had to be done in house. You might think money was saved, but not so in reality – time had to be taken to get the case ready for the barrister and, as we know, time is money! I bet there was a lot more work for the in house legal team as a result. It is not a saving , it is a false economy. I know, I am a dual qualified solicitor and barrister.

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  6. Kully

    This is utter nonsense, barristers will simply do one piece of work, where is the client going go to actually litigate the case and strategically deal with the case…I completely agree that the profession ought to get rid of the separation between solicitor and counsel as opposed to create this false economy of a “cheap” and “corner cutting” service.

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  7. Barrister Bill

    An interesting idea!

    Just to clear up a couple of points. You can instruct and pay a barrister direct. A barrister can only be paid for work s/he has quoted for but cannot hold money on account.

    A barrister cannot conduct litigation but can draft documents for the client to sign and advise the client what to do in terms of case management.

    There are limitations to what a direct access barrister can do and it may need the use of a solicitor for a specific task, e.g. taking statements. Sometimes the case will be too complex for a barrister alone in which case that advice should be given to the client.

    Stobarts and barristers are an odd mix but good luck if it helps give access to law at a more affordable price.

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  8. peter ross

    Eddie Stobart barristers what next Eddie stobart magistrates courts, it is a bit worrying that the stobart group have managed to start a legal services division,Eddie Stobarts have acted in an illegal manor with reference requirements under the road transport regulations, there was a case Ross v Eddie stobarts recently that found that were acting illegally

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