St John’s Chambers raises £3,600 for AvMA’s 35th Anniversary

Earlier this autumn St John’s Chambers Clinical Negligence team hosted a dinner at the Bristol Harbour Hotel raising awareness and funds for, Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA). The charity, which promotes better patient safety and justice for those who have been affected by a medical accident, was celebrating its 35th anniversary.
The evening, sponsored by Renvilles and Arag and including an after dinner speech from Matthew Hill, Health Correspondent West for BBC News, was a triumph. AvMA have said “We are hugely grateful to you and everyone at St Johns Chambers for hosting such a brilliant event and making it such a huge success”.

Funds raised from the dinner will make a real difference to the charity and help them to continue their vital work. Jane Smythson, Marketing and Communications Manager for AvMA adds “I know that our supporters really enjoy regional events which give the opportunity for new people to take part and are a great networking opportunity for everyone. I know that everyone at AvMA is very appreciative of the incredible support we get from you, not only from this event but through everything you do for and with AvMA.

Inquests: more fundamental change on the horizon? Latest article from Marcus Coates-Walker

St John’s Chambers’ InquestsPersonal Injury and Clinical Negligence barrister Marcus Coates-Walker once again provides an update for readers on another interesting area of the law. Marcus discusses whether there is more fundamental change on the horizon with two reports published following wide scale reviews, which make over 130 recommendations for improvement between them. He asks readers whether we are we set to see another fundamental shift in how inquests are conducted?

In the last week we have seen two headline-worthy publications focusing on the fundamental principles that guide the inquest process.

On 30 October 2017, the Government published its response to the ‘Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody’ conducted by Dame Elish Angiolini QC earlier this year (‘the Angiolini report’).

Then, on 1 November 2017, The Right Reverend James Jones KBE published his report titled ‘The patronising disposition of unaccountable power’ – A report to ensure the pain and suffering of the families involved in the Hillsborough inquests was not repeated (‘the Hillsborough report’).

They are two reports that go to the very heart of the principles that govern the inquest process. So what are the key points and what impact are they likely to have?…

Read/download the full article: Inquests: more fundamental change on the horizon?

If you would like to instruct Marcus on a related matter please contact his clerks:  | 0117 923 4730 

Dr Rachel Segal Interviewed by Times Law

Our Dr Rachel Segal, barrister within St John’s Chambers’ Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Teams, has recently been sought out by The Times for her views on a number of topics relevant to the Junior Bar.  Along with four other recent tenants from Chambers across the country, she was asked about morale within the profession and general concerns about being a female barrister including sexual harassment and equality.

A selection of her views have now been published within Times Law online.

To view the full article (via Times Online subscription or their 14 day free trial) written by Linda Tsang please click here.

View profile: Rachel Segal

If you would like to instruct Rachel on a related matter please contact her clerks:  | 0117 923 4730 

St John’s Chambers providing ‘London-quality advice locally’ with ‘a good breadth and depth of expertise’

We are delighted to announce that St John’s Chambers has been recommended as a Top Tier Set in the Western Circuit’s Leading Set by The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2017.

For one solicitor, St John’s Chambers is ‘one of the leading sets in the South West’, providing ‘London-quality advice locally’ with ‘a good breadth and depth of expertise’. We specialise in civil matters and have been noted for our strength in commercial, construction, family, personal injury, clinical negligence, regulatory and public law matters. Inquests and inquiries is another key area for our Chambers’.

Three of our QCs are listed in the Western Circuits “Leading silks” list, The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2017’s guide to outstanding silks nationwide.

Christopher Sharp QC, Family and children law & personal injury and clinical negligence, “He has a brilliant mind that understands the intricacies of any case.”

Leslie Blohm QC, Commercial, banking, insolvency, Chancery law and Property, “He is very grounded but has an air of absolute authority.”

Kathryn Skellorn QC, Family and children law, “Clients are in awe of her.”

In addition to the success of our QC’s, 38 of our barristers are listed in the “Leading juniors” list, The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2017’s guide to outstanding juniors nationwide.

To view further details on our Chambers’ listings please click here

Supreme Court hold Local Authority vicariously liable for abuse by foster parents | Latest article from Marcus Coates-Walker

St John’s Chambers’ Personal Injury barrister Marcus Coates-Walker reports on the recent case of Armes v Nottinghamshire County Council [2017] UKSC 60, regarding care of the appellant by the respondent local authority from the ages of 7 to 18.

The local authority placed the appellant into foster care with: (i) Mr and Mrs A between March 1985 and March 1986; and (ii) Mr and Mrs B between October 1987 and February 1988. She was physically and emotionally abused by Mrs A and sexually abused by Mr B.

The case proceeded on the basis that the local authority were not negligent in the selection or supervision of the foster parents, but that they were nevertheless liable for the abuse perpetrated by her foster carers.

She claimed that the local authority were liable for the abuse, either on the basis that they were:
(i) in breach of a non-delegable duty; or
(ii) vicariously liable for the wrongdoing of the foster parents.

Her claim was dismissed by the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

Read/download the full article including the judgement: Supreme Court hold Local Authority vicariously liable for abuse by foster parents

If you would like to instruct Marcus on a related matter please contact his clerks |  or 0117 923 4730

St John’s Chambers host “one of the best seminars from any Chambers”

Earlier this month St John’s Chambers’  Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence team hosted an interactive workshop and seminar titled ‘The Essential Toolkit for Junior Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Lawyers’.

Barristers Ben Handy, James Marwick, Jimmy Barber, James Hughes, Robert Mills and Marcus Coates-Walker ran plenary and parallel sessions throughout the afternoon referring to the latest legal developments and discussing key topics, including:

  • Schedules of loss: getting to grips with the Ogden tables and unusual heads of loss
  • Understanding causation in Clinical Negligence claims

The seminar received very positive feedback with comments such as:

“Well organised and informative, excellent materials provided.” 

“Excellent presentations. Great speakers. Interesting topics. Very relaxed.”

“All speakers are very knowledgeable. It was great to be invited to a training session aimed at junior lawyers.”

Following the success of this seminar we are looking to host a similar event in the coming months. For further information please contact Anita Young, Marketing and Events Coordinator, at   or 0117 923 4770

Latest article from Justin Valentine | How to get the best from your medical expert in clinical negligence cases

Our Clinical Negligence barrister, Justin Valentine, discusses the court’s approach to assessing the credibility of expert evidence in clinical negligence claims, providing an overview of what considerations solicitors need to have when choosing an expert, instructing an expert and thereafter assessing how their evidence will be judged in court.

He was very free with his allegations of professional negligence against a number of doctors and surgeons, all of which have been shown to be without foundation. These allegations were based upon a superficial reading of the relevant notes and records and a totally inadequate appreciation of matters which were well-known to those who have up to date responsibility for the day to day care of spinal injuries but which were unknown to him ….

1. An expert’s “overriding duty” is, according to CPR 35.3, to the Court. This is a somewhat optimistic statement of the expert’s duty. After all, in clinical negligence cases each party has their own breach of duty and causation experts whose evidence is being relied upon precisely to support the party’s case. However, as the quotation above demonstrates failure to pay adequate attention to the logic of the expert’s opinion, to the thoroughness of the analysis and to the qualifications of the expert will prove fatal to the case as well, possibly, to the expert’s future flow of medico-legal work. Credibility is paramount.

Read the full article: How to get the best from your medical expert in clinical negligence cases

View profile: Justin Valentine

If you would like to instruct Justin on a related matter please contact his clerks via email on

Chambers raise £4,800 for Headway UK following ‘very interesting’ Brain Injury Rehabilitation Conference

St John’s Chambers were pleased to support Headway, the brain injury association, by hosting a Brain Injury Conference in Bristol at the end of 2016. The event raised £4,800 in support of the charity and was kindly sponsored by Renvilles Costs Lawyers and Consultants, large costs service providers, and Nestor, specialist independent financial advisors to personal injury and clinical negligence legal practitioners and their clients.

Glyn Edwards, Head of the Personal Injury Group, was delighted to recently present a cheque to Jo Plant, Director of Fundraising at Headway, at their Bristol chambers. Pictured with Glyn handing over the cheque to Jo Plant are Derek Jenkins, CEO, and Annette Bushell, Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury Practice Manager, both from St John’s Chambers.

“We are pleased to offer direct support to Headway, who work tirelessly to re build shattered lives after brain injury. St John’s Chambers are committed to helping Headway with their invaluable support and services to brain injury survivors, raising much needed funds for this charity” said Derek Jenkins.

Tom Leeper advises at inquest of Josh Clayton

Tom LeeperTom Leeper (Call 1991), experienced Inquest barrister at St Johns Chambers, has been advising at the inquest of Josh Clayton, a holiday island worker whose body was found on rocks near Tresco in September 2015. Tom is advising the Clayton family who have called for a new police investigation after the collapse of the inquest. Tom has said “erroneous assumptions” that Josh Clayton had not been involved in an altercation at the party, “have resulted in an inadequate investigation to date”. The pathologist Dr Russell Delaney told the inquest that there were no signs of Mr Clayton drowning and the cause of death was “unascertained”.

Please click this link to read the full story:

Tom advises and represents clients in clinical negligence and personal injury cases and is regularly instructed in inquests. He sits as Assistant Deputy Coroner for Warwickshire and acts as Counsel to the Inquest.

View profile : Tom Leeper


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at St John’s Chambers


Over the festive period, Chambers will be closed from 4.00pm on Friday, 23rd December and will re-open from 10.00am until 4.00pm on Thursday 29th December through to Friday 30th December.

We will open again for normal business hours on Tuesday, 3th January 2017.

For any emergency enquiries, please see our out of hours numbers.