News


St John’s Chambers congratulates Kathryn Skellorn QC & Emma Zeb on their appointment as Recorders

We are delighted to announce that our members Kathryn Skellorn QC and Emma Zeb have each been appointed to sit as a Recorder by the Judicial Office. The appointments will take effect from 4 April 2018

Kathryn and Emma have been deployed to sit on the Western Circuit.

Head of Chambers, Susan Hunter says “I am delighted to hear that Kathryn and Emma have been appointed as Recorders and I have no doubt they will show the same talent and commitment to the service of the wider public as they do in their practices.”

This year’s appointments sees a total of 133 Recorders appointed. A full list of the 2018 Recorder appointments along with their circuit allocation and deployment can be viewed by clicking here.

Kathryn Skellorn’s CV can be found here.

Emma Zeb’s CV can be found here.

Congratulations once again to both Kathryn and Emma

St John’s Chambers raise £930 for The Coroners’ Courts Support Service

Following the success of our ‘Inquests and The Coroners’ Courts Support Service Seminar’ sponsored by Renvilles last December, we are pleased to announce that a grand total of £930 was raised for the charity, an independent voluntary organisation whose trained volunteers offer emotional support and practical help to bereaved families, witnesses and others attending an Inquest at a Coroner’s Court. Beverley Radcliffe, CCSS Director says “That’s fantastic and once again, thank you for organising and hosting the event – we really did appreciate it.

The event provided a personal insight into the support service from members of the CCSS and an overview of recent legal development in the field. Our Complex & Serious Inquest Team is the only one on the Western Circuit to be recommended in Legal 500, with both speakers, Tom Leeper and Emma Zeb, also being recognised as Leading Juniors. The Team often represents bereaved families, as well as government departments and agencies, such as the MOD, MOJ, and health authorities, in lengthy and complex inquests, that attract considerable media coverage. The Team is renowned for both technical expertise and great advocacy skills in what are inevitably highly sensitive and emotive proceedings.

Guest speakers included our seminar Chair, HM Senior Coroner for the Area of Avon, Maria Voisin; Roey Burden, OBE, Beverley Radcliffe and Margaret Briggs of The Coroners’ Courts Support Service; Mike Bird, Enable Law; Mike Renville, Renvilles and Lisa O’Dwyer of AvMA.

The seminar received excellent feedback with comments such as:

Excellent content, useful to gain understanding of the role of the CCSS and helpful updates.”

Informative and comprehensive seminar, thank you.”

Latest Article from Patrick West | Asbestos and minimal risk: Is there a threshold?

Patrick WestPatrick West, a member of St John’s Chambers’ Personal Injury Team, provides readers with an article on occupational illnesses and the test of employer’s liability for common law negligence. Patrick refers to the case of Veronica Bussey (Widow & Executrix of the estate of David Edwin Anthony Bussey) v 00654701 LTD (Formerly Anglia Heating LTD) [2018] EWCA Civ 243.

“There are currently around 2,500 deaths from mesothelioma each year in the UK.” (NHS Choices website 2018)

Let that sink in. That means that in this country nearly 7 people a day are dying from the most devastating of all occupational illnesses. But it is perhaps not at all surprising given that mesothelioma can be caused by the victim ingesting only a single fibre of asbestos. In the case of Bussey the Court of Appeal has examined whether there is a narrow test for breach of duty following the findings in Williams v University of Birmingham [2011] EWCA Civ 1242 which appeared to establish a need for Claimants to show they were exposed to greater concentrations of asbestos fibres then the “safe” level set out in the TDN13 (March 1970 and January 1971 Technical Data Note 13 (TDN 13), Department of Employment and Productivity).

To continue reading full article please click the following link: Asbestos and minimal risk: Is there a threshold?

View profile: Patrick West

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

St John’s Chambers raises £5,400 for Spinal Injuries Association Charity

Following the success of our SIA Conference and Drinks Reception in November 2017; sponsored by Renvilles and Nestor, we are pleased to announce that the funds raised through ticket sales, donations and the raffle reached £5,400. The Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) is the leading national user-led spinal cord injuries charity. Their belief is that everyone has a right to live a fulfilled life and that means the life that they choose, a life that has the same opportunities as everyone else.

The full day conference included talks from leading consultants, St John’s Chambers barristers and two members of the SIA. Delegates gave great feedback to include comments such as:

“Excellent conference, interesting and engaging seminars.”

“A really excellent speaker! Great content and analysis.”

Latest article by Patrick West | It’s a fair cop: Supreme Court reviews duty of care

Patrick WestPatrick West, a member of St John’s Chambers’ Personal Injury team, provides readers with an article on the recent case of Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire [2018] regarding a lady who was knocked over during an arrest and later sued for personal injury in negligence.

Everyone who has passed through law school will remember the case about the snail in the ginger beer. Poor old Mrs Donoghue. A smaller number will recall Caparo Industries Plc v Dickman [1990] 2 AC 605, a much drier case all about accountants. The latest inheritor of tortious principles is poor Mrs Robinson, knocked down in a busy shopping street by a group of policemen arresting a drug dealer. Since 1990 we should all have been reasonably clear about duty of care and when it arises. But many of us including, it appears, the Court of Appeal, are beset with “uncertainty and confusion” about it.

To continue reading full article please click button below.

Download full article: It’s a fair cop: Supreme Court reviews duty of care

View profile: Patrick West

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

 

Dr Rachel Segal provides university students with an insight into life as a Barrister

Rachel Segal, Member of our Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Practice Groups, has recently been speaking at the University of Bristol about ‘What Barristers Do’ to Bristol-based A-level students on the “Pathways To Law” programme . The programme is intended to encourage and support academically gifted school students who might not otherwise have ready access to higher education into the legal profession, to broaden their horizons and hopefully foster a more diverse profession. In addition to her talk this week she will also be talking to Bristol University law students in the context of their ‘Diversity Fortnight’ on the subject of Women at the Bar.

Rachel is a barrister specialising in Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence and has a busy court and paper practice, being regularly instructed on a range of matters involving Employer’s and Public Liability, Highways Act, RTA-related claims and dental negligence and accepts instructions across the spectrum of Personal Injury law and Clinical Negligence.

To instruct Rachel on a Personal Injury or Clinical Negligence matter please contact her clerks on  | 0117 923 4730

Andrew McLaughlin & Jimmy Barber successful in the Court of Appeal in Stewart v Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust [2017]

Andrew McLaughlin and Jimmy Barber, Members of St John’s Chambers Personal Injury Team, were instructed by Cindy Tsang, partner at Kennedys LLP, to represent the successful Respondent, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust in the case of Stewart v Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust  [2017] EWCA Civ 2091.

Summary: The Appellant, Mrs Stewart, was a community midwife who injured her back while lifting an item of work equipment provided to her by the Defendant Trust. The item was a plastic carry case or box containing an oxygen cylinder and paraphernalia needed at home births. Mrs Stewart alleged breaches by the Defendant of the Manual Handling Regulations 1992 and of its common law duty of care. The focus of the allegations was the Trust’s failure to carry out a risk assessment.

At first instance, the judge accepted the Trust’s argument that there was no need to carry out a risk assessment on the box, which had been in use by community midwives for many years, without complaints or evidence it had caused any problems. He held that the Trust was entitled to rely on the lifting and lowering risk filter in Appendix 3 of the HSE Guidelines on the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992. Applying this filter, the judge found that the box, which weighed around 7.5kg to 8kg and would ordinarily be lifted by its handle from mid-lower leg height, did not require a detailed risk assessment. He did not accept the Claimant’s argument that because she had ‘scooped’ the box directly from the floor using two hands rather than by picking it up by the purpose-built handle, the lowest filter zone of 7kg was applicable. The judge found that the real reason for the Claimant’s injury in lifting the box was that she had a latent pre-existing degenerative back condition and that the action would not have been unsafe for any normal person.

In the appeal, it was submitted on behalf of the Appellant inter alia that the judge had misdirected himself as to which party bore the burden of proof of proving whether a risk assessment had been undertaken, and that he was wrong to hold that a risk assessment was unnecessary. The Respondent argued that these grounds were misconceived because the judge had not been satisfied there was a ‘real risk’ of injury from the box, citing Koonjul v Thameslink Healthcare Services [2000] PIQR P123.

Giving the lead judgment, Hamblen LJ agreed with the Respondent that on a proper analysis the judge below had found there was no real risk of injury, and that this was a factual conclusion that he was entitled to reach on the evidence and with which the court should not interfere. The Court of Appeal endorsed the judge’s approach of taking the manner in which employees would ordinarily carry out the manual handling operation (i.e. by lifting the box by its handle, rather than by scooping it off the floor) and applying an intermediate weight where the hands were close to a boundary between the zones on the filter, i.e. here between 7kg and 13kg. The appeal was dismissed.

The appeal judgment is a useful reminder that the first stage in manual handling claims is always to consider if there is a ‘real risk’ of injury, which is the claimant’s burden of proof. The lifting and lowering risk filter in Appendix 3 of the HSE Guidelines is a helpful tool in establishing whether or not a manual handling operation carried out in its ordinary fashion requires a more detailed assessment. Only if the operation gives rise to a real risk of injury do the various duties under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 come into play.

View the full judgment here: Stewart v Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust [2017] EWCA Civ 2091

To instruct Andrew or Jimmy on a related matter please contact their clerks:  | 0117 923 4730 

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 

The Court of Appeal on approach to findings of fundamental dishonesty for the purposes of CPR44.16 in claims subject to QOCS

James MarwickJames Marwick, a member of St John’s Chambers’ Personal Injury team, is regularly instructed in matters where fraud or fundamental dishonesty is alleged. Yesterday the Court of Appeal gave important guidance on the approach to findings of fundamental dishonesty for the purposes of CPR44.16 in claims subject to QOCS.

Case Note: (1) Howlett & (2) Howlett –v- (1) Davies & (2) Ageas Insurance Ltd [2017] EWCA Civ 1696

Lord Justice Newey has approved the meaning of the expression provided for in Gosling v Hailo (29th April 2014) and, as distinct from fraud, held that fundamental dishonesty need not be pleaded for QOCS to be displaced albeit that claimants must have adequate warning and opportunity to deal with the possibility of such a conclusion.

The appeal concerned a claim arising out of an alleged road traffic accident where the defence did not allege fraud but rather pleaded non-admissions in accordance with the guidance in Kearsley v Klarfield with reference to matters upon which the credibility of the Claimants’ account would be challenged and from which the Court would be invited to draw inferences.  The district judge at first instance dismissed the claim and found that the claimants had not suffered any injury from any accident.  In the circumstances, he found they had been fundamentally dishonest such that QOCS was displaced.

There were challenges on appeal as to whether the Judge was entitled to find fundamental dishonesty where it had not been pleaded and where it was not expressly put to the claimants that they were dishonest in cross examination (the decision having been upheld on appeal to a circuit judge).

The Court of Appeal’s key findings can be summarised as follows:

1.     It approved the definition of fundamental dishonesty provided by HHJ Maloney QC in Gosling v Hailo (29th April 2014) in which he considered it to mean dishonesty going to the root of the whole of a claim or substantial part of it: paragraphs 16 and 17 of Howlett.

2.    Fundamental dishonesty does not need to be pleaded for QOCS to be displaced under CPR 44.16.  It was held that the mere fact that an opposing party had not alleged dishonesty in his pleadings will not necessarily bar a judge from finding that a witness is lying.  Where a case had been pleaded in accordance with the Kearsley v Klarfield guidance, it was open to a judge to state not only that a claim was not proved but to conclude that an alleged accident had not occurred or that the claimant was not present (on the facts of the present case).  The key question was whether the claimant had been given a warning and proper opportunity to deal with the possibility of such a conclusion.  The claimants in this case could not say they were ambushed: paragraphs 31 to 33.

3.    Whilst the terms “fraud” or “dishonest” had not been used in cross examination, it was made plain that the honesty of the claimants was being challenged looking at the totality of matters and therefore they had fair notice of the challenge to their honesty.  It was, however, good practice, to challenge the honesty of a witness explicitly so as to leave no doubt: paragraphs 38 to 39.

The decision accords with the practice that has been adopted at County Court level in personal injury cases of this nature.

Gosling has for some time been the starting point for consideration of the meaning of “fundamental dishonesty” and now there is Court of Appeal approval of HHJ Maloney’s analysis in that case.

Similarly, most judges have approached CPR44.16 on the basis that it is a costs matter and, distinct from fraud, does not require pleading so long as the claimant is made aware that his honesty is being challenged.  In most cases that will be an obvious conclusion from the manner in which the defence is pleaded and the cross examination of the claimant.  The more common battleground is whether a witness has simply been unreliable rather than dishonest.

Howlett ought therefore not to lead to a seismic shift in approach but it is nonetheless important guidance and makes clear that insurers have wide scope to seek findings of fundamental dishonesty at trial.

View profile: James Marwick

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

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