St John’s Chambers win ‘Chambers of the Year 2018’

We are delighted to announce that St John’s Chambers were voted ‘Chambers of the Year 2018-2019′ at the Bristol Law Society Annual Awards Dinner on 11th October 2018. The event was held at the Marriott Hotel, Bristol and raised funds for The Freewheelers blood bikes, a registered charity supporting the NHS in South West England by providing a free emergency motorcycle courier service. The award is given to a Chambers that is able to demonstrate excellence and innovation in the provision of legal services above and beyond their colleagues in the field including CSR activities.

This award coincides with Chambers celebrating 40 years in business, and we continue to strive to be a modern and progressive set with barristers, clerks and management being the driving force behind innovative projects.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our clients, old and new, who have supported us and made this achievement possible.

St John’s Chambers is consistently recognised by independent awards for its expertise in a broad range of specialist areas of law. Our barristers and chambers are regular winners and shortlisted both locally and nationally.

Susan Hunter, Head of Chambers said: “St John’s Chambers is proud to receive this recognition of all we have achieved both in and out of court this year.  We look forward to continuing to serve all who need us in Bristol, the West Country and beyond.”

Photographed above from left to right is: Rachel Segal, Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence Barrister; Anita Young, Events Manager & Marketing Coordinator; Sophie Smith-Holland, Family & Divorce Barrister; Susan Hunter, Head of Chambers; Robert Bocock, Commercial & Chancery Practice Manager; Harriet Dudbridge, Family & Divorce Barrister and Annie Sampson, Commercial & Chancery Barrister.

St John’s Chambers raise £5,000 from charity dinner for AvMA and Child Brain Injury Trust

St John’s Chambers hosted an extremely successful charity dinner on Thursday, 20th September at the Bristol Harbour Hotel, raising a fantastic sum of £5,000 for AvMA and the Child Brain Injury Trust. This event was sponsored by Renvilles Costs Lawyers & Consultants, and was attended by over 150 legal professionals.

Guests were greeted with a glass of bubbly on arrival – thanks to sponsors Grant Thorton for sponsoring the welcome drinks – followed by talks from Head of Fundraising Rachel Parsons from the Child Brain Injury Trust, and Chief Executive Peter Walsh of AvMA, as well as short video clips on the work that they do. Guests then went on to enjoy their 3-course meal with His Honour Judge Cotter QC as the after-dinner speaker.

The Child Brain Injury Trust is the leading voluntary sector organisation providing emotional and practical support, information and learning opportunities for families and professionals affected by childhood-acquired brain injury across the UK. Read more.

AvMA is the UK charity for patient safety and  justice. They support and empower people harmed by failures in patient safety to get justice, and to promote safer healthcare for all. Read more.

Raffle prizes were generously donated by local businesses including: Hampton Clinic, ARAG, Parsnip Mash, Source Food Hall & Café, Click Webdesign, Calculus Legal Costs Holdings Limited, Scott Law and Tozers.

We would particularly like to say a big thank you to all those who supported us in raising much-needed funds for our chosen charities.

Rachel Parsons from the Child Brain Injury Trust said: “The charity has a dedicated Child & Family Support team who are based at Bristol Children’s Hospital and out in the community in the region.  It is a fairly new project and we are thrilled that our work in the South West was featured so prominently by St John’s Chambers.  The money that has been raised will help us to provide a lifeline to children and families in the South West whose lives have been devastated by brain injury and who have nowhere else to turn.  Thank you St John’s.”

Marcus Coates-Walker provides readers with a case summary on the recent Supreme Court appeal in the case of Darnley v Croydon Health Services NHS Trust [2018] UKSC 50

Clinical Negligence barrister, Marcus Coates-Walker provides readers with a case summary on the recent Supreme Court appeal in the case of Darnley (Appellant) v Croydon Health Services NHS Trust (Respondent) [2018] UKSC 50. This appeal considered whether non-clinically trained reception staff at an Accident and Emergency (“A&E”) Department at Mayday Hospital in Croydon owed a tortious duty of care to the appellant to provide him with accurate information regarding waiting times.

Background to the Appeal

The appellant was struck on the head on 17 May 2010 and attended the Accident and Emergency Department at Mayday Hospital, Croydon at 20:26pm.

The trial judge found that at the A&E reception, the appellant informed the receptionist that he thought he had a head injury and that he was feeling very unwell. The receptionist told the appellant that he would have to wait up to four to five hours before he could be seen by a clinician. The appellant told the receptionist he could not wait that long as he felt he was about to collapse. The usual practice when a person with a head injury asked about waiting times was either: (a) to say that patients could expect to be seen by a triage nurse within 30 minutes of arrival according to one receptionist; or (b) to say that the triage nurse would be informed and that patients would be seen as soon as possible according to a second receptionist.

The appellant left after 19 minutes because he felt too unwell to remain and went to his mother’s home. He became distressed at 21:30pm and an ambulance was called. He was taken back to Mayday Hospital and a CT scan identified a large extradural haematoma with a marked midline shift. He was transferred to St George’s Hospital and underwent an operation at 01:00am. Unfortunately, the appellant suffered permanent brain damage in the form of a severe and very disabling left hemiplegia.

The appellant brought proceedings against the respondent alleging a breach of duty by the reception staff concerning the information he was given about the time he would have to wait and the failure to assess the appellant for priority triage. The High Court dismissed the claim. The appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal. The appeal was dismissed by a majority on the grounds that: (i) neither the receptionist nor the Trust acting by the receptionist owed any duty to advise about waiting times; (ii) the damage was outside the scope of any duty owed; and (iii) there was no causal link between any breach of duty and the injury. The appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.


The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal and remitted the case to the Queen’s Bench Division for an assessment of damages. Lord Lloyd-Jones gave the sole judgment with which the other Justices agreed.

Reasons for the Judgment

Duty of care

First, the present case falls squarely within an established category of duty of care: it has long been established that such a duty is owed by those who provide and run a casualty department to persons presenting themselves complaining of illness or injury and before they are treated or received into care in the hospital’s wards. The duty is to take reasonable care not to cause physical injury to the patient. In the present case, as soon as the appellant was ‘booked in’ at reception he entered into a relationship with the respondent of patient and health care provider. The scope of this duty of care extends to a duty to take reasonable care not to provide misleading information which may foreseeably cause physical injury [16].

Secondly, the duty of care is owed by the respondent and it is not appropriate to distinguish, in this regard, between medical and non-medical staff. The respondent had charged its non-medically qualified staff with the role of being the first point of contact for persons seeking medical assistance and, as a result, with the responsibility for providing accurate information as to its availability [17].

Thirdly, the judgments of the majority in the Court of Appeal merges issues of the existence of a duty of care and negligent breach of duty. [21]

Fourthly, observations on the social cost of imposing such a duty of care are misplaced as this is not a new head of liability for NHS Trusts and, in any event, the undesirable consequences of imposing the duty in question were considerably overstated. The Court did, however, acknowledge that the very difficult circumstances under which A&E departments operate “may well prove highly influential in many cases when assessing whether there has been a negligent breach of duty” [22].

Negligent breach of duty

A receptionist in an A&E department is expected to take reasonable care not to provide misleading advice as to the availability of medical assistance. The standard required is that of an averagely competent and well-informed person performing the function of a receptionist at a department providing emergency medical care [25]. Moreover, responding to requests for information as to the usual system of operation of the A&E department is well within the area of responsibility of receptionists [26]. The two receptionists on duty were aware of the standard procedure, but the appellant was told to sit down to wait for up to four to five hours. That information was incomplete and misleading. The trial judge made the finding that it was reasonably foreseeable that a person who believes it may be four to five hours before he will be seen may decide to leave. In light of that finding, the provision of such misleading information by a receptionist as to the time within which medical assistance might be available was negligent [27].


The appellant’s decision to leave was reasonably foreseeable and was made, at least in part, on the basis of the misleading information [29]. The trial judge made further findings of fact that: (a) had the appellant been told he would be seen within 30 minutes he would have waited, been seen by a doctor and admitted; and (b) had the appellant suffered the collapse at 21:30 whilst at the Mayday Hospital, he would have undergone surgery earlier and he would have made a nearly full recovery [30]. Thus, the appellant’s departure did not break the chain of causation.

View Judgment: Darnley (Appellant) v Croydon Health Services NHS Trust (Respondent) [2018] UKSC 50

View profile: Marcus Coates-Walker

Failure to Inform Patient of Diagnosis; C v County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trust [2018]

Clinical Negligence barrister, Justin Valentine, provides readers with a case note focussing on application of Montgomery to inadequate but non-defective administrative systems in the context of failure to diagnose Crohn’s Disease/failure to inform patient of diagnosis.

Justin undertakes clinical negligence work with experience of a wide variety of claims including spinal injury, nursing care, psychiatric treatment, cosmetic surgery errors, misdiagnosis/delay in diagnosis, orthopaedic injuries, incorrect prescription, negligent dental treatment, surgical injuries, catastrophic and fatal injury claims.

As an advocate and litigant Justin has considerable experience representing families at inquests, and drafting complex high value Schedules of Loss in brain, catastrophic and fatal accident claims.

To read the full article please click here.

If you would like to instruct Justin on a related matter please contact his clerks: or 0117 923 4730.


St John’s Chambers welcomes four new tenants

It is with great pleasure we announce that all four of our current pupils: Annie Sampson (commercial and chancery); Jonathan Lindfield (personal injury and clinical negligence); Sophie Smith-Holland (family & divorce) and Harriet Dudbridge (family & divorce) have become tenants at St John’s Chambers following their successful pupillage.

Annie Sampson

Annie successfully completed her specialist pupillage within the commercial and chancery practice group and is now building on that experience to develop a broad commercial and chancery practice. Annie’s experience includes commercial disputes, including applications for interim relief; partnership disputes, in particular in an agricultural context; boundary disputes; adverse possession claims; personal insolvency; the construction and validity of wills; and 1975 Act claims.

As a result of her work as a County Court advocate before commencing pupillage, Annie also has extensive experience of residential landlord and tenant and mortgage possession proceedings. This is something which Annie has continued to build on in practice, including a one-day possession trial to evict a tenant on the basis of breach of his tenancy agreement due to anti-social behavior.

Read more about Annie

“We have been very impressed by Annie’s intellect, and ability as an advocate and a lawyer.  We look forward to working with her as a valued member of the commercial and chancery team.”
Christopher Jones, Pupil Supervisor

If you would like to instruct Annie, or have any questions, please contact her clerks:

Jonathan Lindfield

Jonathan successfully completed his pupillage under the supervision of Ben Handy and Emma Zeb. During pupillage, Jonathan has specialised in all aspects of personal injury and clinical negligence work. He has a busy practice made up of both court work and paperwork, and acts regularly for both claimants and defendants. He enjoyed a busy second six, having been regularly instructed in small claim and fast-track matters, as well as on interim bases for higher-value claims. He is well-experienced in providing detailed, clear, tactically sound advice on all aspects of the litigation process, as well as a real proficiency for courtroom advocacy. Jonathan has also drafted a number of pleadings, questions to experts, as well as a range of other documents.

He is an approachable, personable advocate who has a down-to-earth approach with both lay and professional clients. Having previously volunteered in a high street solicitors’ firm, he understands the challenges faced by those instructing him and endeavours to reflect that in his attitude towards paperwork and cases in general. He is happy to accept work on a CFA basis in suitable cases.

Read more about Jonathan

“Jonathan is another excellent addition to the team. Since the day he joined St John’s he has shown an awful lot of talent, and put in a lot of hard work. He has a very bright future ahead of him.” 
Ben Handy, Pupil Supervisor

If you would like to instruct Jonathan, or have any questions, please contact his clerks:

Harriet Dudbridge

Harriet successfully completed her pupillage under the supervision of Susan Hunter. Harriet joins St John’s Chambers as a Justice First Fellow, a scheme devised by the LegalEducation Foundation for the next generation of social welfare lawyers. She is accepting instructions in the following areas: Children – Private Law & Public Law, Schedule 1 Children Act 1989, Divorce & Financial Remedies, Part IV Family Law Act 1996 (Domestic Violence) and ToLATA 1996 matters. She is regularly instructed in a variety of hearings from FHDRA’s to finding of fact and final hearings.

Harriet represents clients in FLA 1996 proceedings, obtaining non-molestation orders at contested hearings and also dealing with cross undertakings where appropriate. She has represented clients in cases involving neglect, substance misuse, immigration issues and domestic abuse. Harriet also represents applicants and respondents in financial remedy proceedings, including FDAs and FDRs, as well as accepting instructions in applications brought under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 and ToLATA 1996.

Harriet gained direct public children experience when working with volunteers in child protection where she was placed with a family with children on a child protection plan.

Read more about Harriet

“Harriet is already a skilled advocate and has developed a thriving practice during pupillage.  We are delighted to welcome her to the family team.” 
Susan Hunter, Head of Chambers

“I am delighted to join St John’s Chambers as a tenant and am very much looking forward to building my practice in all areas of family law.”
Harriet Dudbridge

If you would like to instruct Harriet, or have any questions, please contact her clerks:

Sophie Smith-Holland

Sophie successfully completed her specialist family pupillage under the supervision of Judi Evans and Andrew Commins. Sophie is building a busy practice in the following areas: Children – Private Law & Public Law, Divorce & Financial Remedies, Schedule 1 Children Act 1989, Part IV – Family Law Act 1996 (Domestic Violence) and ToLATA 1996 matters. Examples of her most recent successes at court are: obtaining an order to secure the return of a child from Scotland and proving allegations of domestic abuse, physical harm, emotional harm, sexual harassment and sexual assault after fact-finding hearings lasting several days.

Sophie worked for over 2 years in the family team of a highly respected national law firm. During this time she assisted on a variety of private and public law children matters. Consequently, she has a unique ability to view cases from the perspectives of both her professional and lay clients. She was recently awarded “highly commended” in the Bar Council’s Law Reform Essay Competition for her essay on the need for no fault divorce in England and Wales.

Read more about Sophie

“Sophie joins the department with already a considerable amount of experience in family law having worked for both a local authority and a highly regarded firm of solicitors.  Sophie’s clear and persuasive advocacy skills attracted praise from early on in her pupillage, and we have all been impressed by Sophie’s ability, and enthusiasm. We  look forward to working with her as a valued member of the team.” Judi Evans, Head of Family team, and Pupil Supervisor

“I am thrilled to have become a member of St John’s Chambers and am very much looking forward to continuing to expand my (already busy!) practice across all areas of family law.”
Sophie Smith-Holland

If you would like to instruct Sophie, or have any questions, please contact her clerks:

The latest edition of the Denton Resource incorporating the most relevant and recent cases is now available to download

Personal injury barrister Rachel Segal has updated the latest edition of the Denton Resource which charts judgments on relief from sanctions following the Court of Appeal’s decision in Denton v White [2014] EWCA Civ 906.

This resource summarises, in at-a-glance format, over 150 post-Denton cases. It will be of interest to practitioners in all fields of civil litigation dealing with applications where the three-stage Denton approach is to be applied, and is intended to help the reader decide whether to investigate the full judgment.

The resource provides a brief summary of:

  • post-Denton cases addressing relief from sanctions;
  • the relevant default;
  • the court’s approach to each of the three stages as appropriate and
  • the outcome.

Download: Denton Resource September 2018

Rachel practises in personal injury law (including clinical negligence) and accepts instructions on relief from sanctions applications and other procedural matters in other disciplines. Read more. 

If you would like to instruct Rachel on a related matter, please contact her clerks:  or call 0117 923 4730.

St John’s Chambers welcomes family law barrister Olivia Pike

St John’s Chambers is pleased to announce Olivia Pike, formerly of 30 Park Place, Cardiff, will be joining the St John’s Family Practice Group from 10th September, and is already accepting instructions.

Olivia is a specialist family law barrister with a focus on all aspects of children law. She arrives with an established practice and accepts instructions in public and private law cases. She represents local authorities, parents, extended family members, interveners and children (separately or by their Guardians). Her expertise includes cases involving allegations of sexual abuse, non-accidental injury, domestic abuse, emotional abuse, chronic neglect and drug and alcohol abuse.

Olivia also undertakes all aspects of education law, advising and representing local authorities, schools, parents and students at the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales (SENTW), First-Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability – SENDIST) and County Court.

In suitable cases, Olivia accepts instructions to act directly from members of the public.

Olivia said: “I am delighted to be joining St John’s Chambers, which has an excellent reputation. I am looking forward to expanding my practice into the South West, as well as continuing to work in Wales.”

Judi Evans, Head of the Family Practice Group said: “We warmly welcome Olivia to our Family Practice Group. She is a well-known and respected family law practitioner, and adds further strength in depth to our busy team of 28 barristers, as well as enhancing our capacity to meet the demands of our family law clients.”

View profile: Olivia Pike

If you would like to instruct Olivia on any related matter, please contact her clerks: .

Bethany Hardwick shortlisted for Family Law Commentator of the Year

We are delighted to announce that Bethany Hardwick, specialist family law barrister has been shortlisted for ‘Family Law Commentator of the Year’ by Family Law Awards 2018. As well as her extensive experience in financial remedy proceedings and children private and public law work, Bethany is a keen legal commentator and contributor to Jordan’s Family Law Online.

The awards ceremony is being held on Wednesday, 28 November in London. We wish Bethany and all other nominees every success for the awards and would like to take this time to congratulate her again on this great achievement.

View profile: Bethany Hardwick

Leslie Blohm QC discusses land law cases for Oxford University Press

Leslie Blohm QC alongside seven other leading barristers in the UK took part in a series of videos for Oxford University Press discussing their involvement in seminal land law cases from recent years, ranging from Stack v Dowden, Davies v Davies and Bagum v Hafiz.

Leslie was interviewed by OUP in connection with his involvement with leading recent cases in land law, with reference to the Court of Appeal decision in Davies v Davies [2014] EWCA Civ 568 and other farming proprietary estoppel cases, with particular emphasis on the experience of acting in this type of case and the effect on the litigants. The interviews will be available as ‘Lawyers behind the cases’, a web-based element of Chris Bevan’s new textbook published in March this year.

To view the trailer:

The ‘Lawyers behind the cases’ videos provide valuable insights into the legal arguments that were pursued but also highlight the human side of the law, helping students to develop a full and nuanced understanding of the subject.

To find our more information about Leslie, please view this page.

St John’s Chambers shortlisted for ‘Chambers of the Year’ by STEP Private Client Awards 2018/19

STEP Private Client Awards LogoWe are delighted to announce that St John’s Chambers have been shortlisted by the STEP Private Client Awards 2018/19 for their ‘Chambers of the Year’ award. It is a great achievement in itself as the awards span the entirety of the UK and include London sets as well. The winners will be decided on the 7 November at the awards ceremony hosted at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London.

As well as being shortlisted for their ‘Chambers of the Year’ 2017 award, our specialist wills & trusts team have been described by Legal 500 as the strongest Chancery set in Bristol. The team advise and represent clients in a broad range of disputes, with a particular strength in complex contentious trusts and inheritance disputes.

STEP improves public understanding of the issues families face in relation to inheritance and succession planning and promote education and high professional standards among their members within the Trusts and Estates practice. For more information, please visit:

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the other nominees and look forward to the results in November.