Introducing Stuart W Stevens: A tenacious, forward-looking barrister with an extraordinary ability to win cases and represent you in a modern, realistic fashion. Watch his intro, and contact us if you require his services.
I am stuart. I’ve been a barrister for a number of years now, specialising in motoring defence law. I used to do a lot of work for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in terms of prosecuting motorists. After realising, that that’s not particularly the nicest thing to do and not what I would like doing, I switched my practice into defending people and putting that knowledge into good use in defending people. Since that time, I regularly defend people up and down the country for their motoring defence charges, mainly appearing in the Magistrates Courts because that’s where most motoring offences end up.
Did you always want to be a barrister?
The plan was always, actually, to go into the Royal Air Force (RAF), after finishing my studies at university; it didn’t turn out that way, I ended up going on and studying after finishing 3 years; at university, going on to study law and I continued in that fashion, went down that fashion. I ultimately had to make a decision whether I want to be a solicitor, who was going to be in an office most of the time, preparing cases , and planning cases, that sort of thing; or I’d want to be in court, doing the actual arguments, outlining the arguments, and winning cases. That’s effectively what I found myself more comfortable doing.
Do you have barristers in the family?
I was always in and about barristers. I remember vividly, the child running around and meeting everyone in chambers and that sort of thing. Because that was very much the background I was brought up in. Obviously, it is quite helpful having a senior barrister as a father and someone who I can always talk about my cases that sort of thing, because that gave me a lot of experience to draw on; I could always rely on that; I could always discuss points of law, it helped more of my study Now though, I am obviously a practising barrister myself, and run my own practice. Everything is effectively run myself but it’s nice to come from that background.
When did you decide to become a barrister?
Ultimately, it is always going to be bar for me. I did a lot of experience, working with solicitors; working in their offices; seeing what their job is, what their job entails. If anything, that really just secured what I already knew, which was that I belonged in court and I was someone who very much had to be in the forefront running the case, and effectively presenting and winning cases.
How did you begin your training and legal practice?
I did my training, and I did my ‘pupillage’ as they call it, in a common law set of chambers, which effectively means the barristers in my chambers come from wide background and different barristers specialise in different areas. Other chambers work slightly differently. You will have family sets just do family law; you will have criminal sets just do criminal law. My training was in a wide spectrum, and I was exposed to an awful lot of different areas of law. After finishing my training, and going to directing my practice, and building my own practice, where I found I get some of the best results is in motoring offences and driving offences. Particularly, defending driving offences where people are charged with motoring offences. And I am also instructed often and I do a lot of employment cases. Employment and general civil is where I do a lot of my work, but certainly in terms of Public Access work, the majority of my work come through in motoring law and driving offences.
How can I contact you about my legal case?
I am always available to be contacted. Once you’ve instructed me, once I’ve got conduct of your case, and working with you on your case, I like to keep an regular contact with people. I am more than happy to speak to my clients on a regular basis about their case, just so they know their case has been handled properly, and I know that we are keeping in touch, and we know what stage their case is at. I do feel that it is vital that barristers, when they are instructed directly by members of the public, keeping regular contact with their clients, just so that everyone is on the same page, and they know what is going on in their case.
When should I seek a barrister’s help?
The sooner you come, the better, because the more time I would be able to dedicate to your case, and the more work I can put into it. But there is no bar on when you can come, but of course if you call up, I am free and I am not already in court for someone else, we can take instructions from you; I can take instructions from you; and I can appear in court the very next day, even on the same day if it is complete emergency you desperately need it. But of course going to someone in plenty of time is often the best thing because that means that you can prepare the case properly, and run the case properly. Often as well, if you come because you have one of those niggling feeling at back of your mind, and you think “ I don’t know whether I have got a case or not, but I think something is not right, I’d like to talk to someone about it.” Then that’s the perfect time to come to someone, because of course, often things can be resolved before going to court, and there are many steps that you can take to preemptively sort the matter out, and sort the problem out, without having to go to court. So the best thing you can do is to take that first step to speak to someone.
How do I know it is suitable to come to you for legal help?
Well, of course, one of the other benefits is that if you do come to someone when you don’t know whether you have got a case, most people, most barristers I shall say who do Public Access work and are Public Access qualified will sit down and give you a free consultation at the beginning just to assess whether you’ve got a case and give you the initial advice. In many occurrences and instances, people would come to a barrister, say “ Do I have a case?” and after looking at it, examining it, they may not have a case. It is one of the first steps in any event. If you are on the fence about whether or not to bring a case, why not use the 15 minutes, half an hour, even an hour of discussions just to see whether that is the case, you can continue with that.
What if you’re not available?
And of course, if I am not available, then you can always contact ShenSmith, who will try to help you the best they can and give you the answer there and then. Or indeed, they can contact me relay what you have told them and make sure that I get back to you in plenty of good time. But you can rest assured that in whatever circumstances, if you need desperately to make a phone call and find someone about your case, there is someone there to call and someone there to pick up the call and answer your question.
What is your availability like?
Given that I present people all over the country, up and down, in all sort of locations, I always try to make myself available. There are practical difficulties with that, but we work around them. I am always available on the phone, I also am happy to do Skype conversations, and video conferences with clients. Or indeed, if you want to have a face to face meeting, we can organise that, book that in; and we can arrange that so that I can come up to meet you if it is needed to; Or indeed, if it is easier for you to come down to London, you feel like you want to do that, you can come down to my offices, and we can have a conference together in person there. We do like to be flexible; we do like to work together; so whatever the situation is, call through, speak to us, we will try to organise the best way of talking to you and sorting that out.
How are barristers’ fees structured?
When I am instructed on your case, I like to keep everything as simple as possible. The worst thing in the world is when a client turns to me and says “ I wasn’t expecting to have to pay for that service.” I often find the easiest way to run a case, to organise a case for someone is to break it down in manageable sections and come to an agreement with them before any work is done, about what work is actually being done, and what that work will cost. Organising it in advance like that would mean that no one is surprised by any fees, so that all the work that is done is arranged in good time prior to work being done, and for a fixed fee that won’t catch you by surprise.
Why do you like ShenSmith Barristers?
The reason I like the idea of ShenSmith Barristers and working with them is because I know that they are not there to fleece the client and simply take the client’s money. Most people when they come to legal professionals, be it solicitors or barristers, they are looking effectively for help because they are in trouble or they don’t really know the best way forward. What I’ve found working with ShenSmith is that they are not there just to bill you and use up your time and take all your money. Effectively, they offer you some free advice where they can, they will you much help as they, and it is only at the point where it becomes apparent that you need legal assistance and you need some proper form of legal help, they will forward you on to a barrister, like myself where we can discuss your case and take it forward. In many instances it doesn’t need to reach that stage. If you do need, or if you do feel that talking to someone just to test the water, and see what the situation is, ShenSmith is somewhere you can call and have that initial conversation, and have that initial talk. After that, you can also feel comfortable knowing that if the case is gonna go forward, it does need to go to any form of litigation or towards court, they know they will put to someone, who is not only competent to deal with it but someone who specialises in that area. So for example, if you are charged with driving offence or if you are charged with a fraud matter, you know that you are not just going to be passed off to ‘someone in the team’ but one of the barristers who specialises in that area, and is going to be hand picked for you, because they know what they are talking about, they can be the best service to help you in your case. That’s why I like working with ShenSmith, because it is the extra effort in helping the client and making sure all the reasonable steps are taken before it needs to escalate to a point where a barrister is involved.