News


St John’s receives recognition for 19 separate practice areas in this year’s Chambers and Partners UK Bar 2018 Guide

We are delighted to announce that we have been hugely successful in this year’s Chambers and Partners UK Bar 2018 Guide. We have been recognised in a total of 19 separate practice areas, with individual members listed in Band 1 for 13 of those.

For the full list of rankings, please click here

If you would like to instruct any of our barristers please contact the clerks:

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 

Re-opening of the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre

Following discussions with its contractors, the court has announced it will re-open to the public on Tuesday 14th November 2017.

In preparation for this, a closure order has been approved for Monday 13th November 2017, meaning there will be no counter services available on Monday the 13th November but court hearings will go ahead as planned at the temporary venues currently being used.

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 

Pupil barrister Harriet Dudbridge interviewed by Legal Voice

Pupil barrister, Harriet Dudbridge has recently joined our Family team as a Justice First Fellow after spending the first year of the fellowship with the Bar Pro Bono Unit. The publication Legal Voice has interviewed Harriet documenting what attracted her to the Justice First Fellowship and her experience so far.

For the full article please click here

View profile: Harriet Dudbridge 

If you would like to instruct Harriet, please contact her clerks:  StjohnsChambersFamilyClerks@stjohnschambers.co.uk or 0117 923 4720

Leslie Blohm QC | Refusal of registration of the Playing Fields at Llantarnam as a Town or Village Green

Leslie Blohm QCLeslie Blohm QC, barrister within St John’s Chambers’, Town and Village Greens team, has recently appeared for Torfaen County Borough Council as landowner at the Inquiry.

Ms. Ruth Stockley, inspector appointed by Torfaen County Borough Council, has recommended the refusal of registration of the Playing Fields at Llantarnam (formerly the Llantarnam School Playing Fields) as a Town or Village Green. The grounds of the refusal were (1) that the land had not been used for informal recreation by the inhabitants of a ‘neighbourhood’ and (2) that the use relied upon was in the main either contentious, being contrary to clear signs, or according to existing rights of way running over the land. Ms. Stockley’s advice will now be considered by the Council, which will make the final decision as to registration.

The circumstances of this application, where the public has used school playing fields for recreation, is not uncommon. Where the playing field falls out of public use (for example because the school closes) then local residents are concerned to prevent a change of use, and an application to register the land as a Town or Village Green may follow. The Inspector’s decision illustrates the sort of factors that typically have to be considered in coming to a decision.

Leslie Blohm QC instructed by Tim James (Torfaen CBC) represented the Council as landowner at the Inquiry.

View the Inspector’s report: Torfaen County Borough Council

To instruct Leslie on a Commercial & Chancery matter please contact his clerks on  | 0117 923 4740

Natasha Dzameh Winner of Barrister of the Year 2017

It is with great pleasure that we announce the achievement of Natasha Dzameh, one of our Commercial & Chancery barristers, in winning the Bristol Law Society’s “Barrister of the Year 2017” award last night. She was lauded as an excellent lawyer and was also commended on her client service skills. Her accomplishment is demonstrative of the diligence she applies to every case and the priority with which she treats client satisfaction.

Natasha comments on last night’s success “I am delighted to have won the Bristol Law Society’s “Barrister of the Year 2017” Award. This is a surprising and welcome result at such an early stage in my career at the Bar. The support of my colleagues in Chambers, the guidance of my clerks and the level of trust placed in me by my instructing solicitors has been essential to the quick development of my practice. I am very proud to have made a significant impact on the legal community in Bristol.

To instruct Natasha on a Commercial & Chancery matter please contact her clerks on  | 0117 923 4740

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 http://pharmacy-no-rx.net/levitra_generic.html 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

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