Yes, I ended up firing them and presenting in person. I looked at suing them for the fees they had charged but I was dealing with so much else at the time I just thought that was additional stress I didn't need to have. I did put in a complaint and they had to write explaining what they had done and justify their fees etc but I didn't take it further.
A good direct access barrister can be worth their weight in gold. Barristers are professional arguers. The information required for them to be able to argue successfully needs to be presented well. Some DA barristers will prepare paperwork.
A solicitor has a different job. They are there to gather and present information and evidence, to help narrow the issues, to advise on settlement options and manage the case. A lot of people feel that with better knowledge of the process and procedures they can do the information gathering, form filling and document production themselves. Many of our members have done so successfully. A lot make use of the services we provide to litigants in person.
If funds are limited and things are contentious, I would advise self repping with ad hoc legal advice as needed to keep costs down - and pay for a Direct Access barrister when required - FDR or FH. Do your homework to get the right one, ask if they will do an early case conference and make sure they are aware of any curve balls the other side may throw at the hearing. If possible get some additional support to ensure all documentation is well presented. It is better imo to do the early stages yourself and have funds for representation at court in the later stages than run out of money and find yourself self repping against a barrister at Final Hearing.