To instruct counsel you would, just like a solicitor would,prepare a brief. This is a bundle of copies of all the relevant documents organised as:
- A letter or instruction introducing the case and what is involved. When you write this you just need to tell me anything and everything you think is relevant. Remember – what you tell me is legally privileged and if you do not tell me now it may affect my advice later.
- If proceedings have begun then all of the court filings and documents in chronological order.
- All the correspondence (emails, letters, etc) between you and anyone else involved in the case.
- All of the documents you have in relation to the case
- If you have obtained other documents from elsewhere then each of these as a separate section in chronological order
- It is important that if you have obtained other evidence from elsewhere that I know this is separate and where it was obtained from and how (under the Data Protection Act for example, or in response to a complaint) because this may affect how they can be used as evidence.
I only accept electronic instructions because this reduces my overheads and allows me to be sure that I do not have any of your original documents. Since I do not conduct litigation I cannot hold these because the court may require you to produce these and so they are the responsibility of you or your instructed solicitor.
It is often best to name all the files in the style of “1 – A – Instructions” for the first tab, first part and its description; so that the Defence would be “2 – C – Defence” (being the third court document in any case after the Claim Form and Particulars of Claim). This allows both me and you to quickly and easily locate all of the documents and refer to them.
After you have instructed me once it may be that you need to come back for further advice, or drafting or to go to court. Whenever you re-instruct counsel each of those sections can be extended by adding the new documents within each category.