Corporate solicitors and solicitors employed by government or other agencies can brief barristers directly without going through an external legal firm. Provided that the solicitor is entitled to practise in the jurisdiction in which the appearance is required or advice sought, the barrister is able to receive a brief from them.1 See our section for Corporate and Government Counsel.


A barrister may also be instructed by a patent attorney to appear or give advice in connection with a patent or trademark matter without an instructing solicitor.2

An instructing solicitor is also not required in a number of other circumstances, for example, where a barrister is briefed in a defence force matter or as counsel assisting a commission or inquiry or where the barrister is briefed to advise the Crown or any government department or agency.3

Traditionally, a direct access brief to a barrister in a commercial matter is permitted if the brief comes from a member of an approved body acting on behalf of a client of the member4. Examples of approved bodies include Association of Consulting Engineers Australia, Australian Bankers Association and Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia. Click for a full list of approved direct access.

When can't I brief a barrister?

Direct access to a barrister is not permitted:

  • where the matter involves an appearance in Court in a civil case unless the written permission of the Ethics Committee of the Victorian Bar is obtained.
  • where the Barrister considers it is in the interests of the client that a solicitor be instructed.

In criminal matters, barristers may accept briefs from Legal Aid or in the Magistrates' Court of Victoria.

1. The Victorian Bar, Rules of Conduct, Rule 126
2. The Victorian Bar, Rules of Conduct, Rule 127(a)
3. The Victorian Bar, Rules of Conduct, Rule 127(b)(c)(g)(h)&(i)
4. The Victorian Bar, Rules of Conduct, Rule 165(a)(ii)