News


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

Court of Protection – Legal test for capacity to marry – Alex Troup and Abigail Bond

St John’s Chambers Members, Alex Troup and Abigail Bond, were involved in the case of Re DMM, a Court of Protection case which was recently reported on Bailii and has been the subject of considerable press interest. The case concerned an application by EJ, one of the daughters of DMM, to restrain his marriage to his long term partner, SD, the effect of which would be to revoke DMM’s will which was substantially in favour of the daughters. The case raised the interesting and novel issue of whether the legal test for capacity to marry required the person in question to understand that marriage would automatically revoke their will. His Honour Judge Marston held that the test did indeed require that level of understanding, but gave permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.Abigail Bond Shortly thereafter, however, an expert jointly instructed by the parties reported that DMM did in fact understand that his marriage would automatically revoke his will. In a second judgment, HHJ Marston held that, in light of that expert report, DMM was free to proceed with the marriage; and in those circumstances the appeal to the Court of Appeal on the question of law became otiose and was not pursued. Alex Troup represented EJ, and Abigail Bond represented SD.

The two Bailii decisions can be viewed via the following links: DMM, Re (Alzheimer’s : power of attorney) [2017] EWCOP 32 | DMM, Re (Alzheimer’s : marriage : power of attorney ) [2017] EWCOP 33

View Profiles: Alex Troup | Abigail Bond

If you would like to instruct Alex or Abigail on a related matter please contact their clerks: 0117 923 4700 |

“The quality, range and professionalism of both solicitors and barristers in Bristol now rivals anything that other centres – including London – can offer.” Leslie Blohm QC on the new Business and Property Courts in Bristol

Leslie Blohm QCLeslie Blohm QC, Deputy Head of Chambers and Member of our Commercial & Chancery Team recently published an article within Lexis Nexis on ‘The Business and Property Courts in Bristol, as seen from the Bar.’ He explains to readers that the new Business and Property Courts can be viewed as a way in which to move forward and leave behind divisional differences created by litigation straddling the boundaries of being managed and tried in the same Courts.

Lord Justice Briggs notes that there are no cases too big for regional centres within the Civil Courts Structure Review further backed by Leslie who states “The regions are a pressure valve for increasing work in the system, directing more and better work out of London.” It is apparent that with the new Business and Property Courts in Bristol cases “can be dealt with more quickly, and with efficiency, with commensurate saving in time and cost.”

He maintains the view that “The quality, range and professionalism of both solicitors and barristers in Bristol now rivals anything that other centres – including London – can offer.”

Read the full article published by Lexis Nexis, January 2018 sponsored by The University of Law: The Business and Property Courts in Bristol, as seen from the Bar

If you wish to instruct Leslie on a Commercial & Chancery matter please contact his clerks on | 0117 923 4740

St John’s Chambers Family Team host the first in their series of free training events

Yesterday; Lucy Reed and Iain Large, Members of our Family Team, hosted the first event of the year in a new series of free CPD accredited training events. The sessions will run for one hour involving two talks in the afternoon and will cover current issues in family and children law. Our January session titled; ‘Teenagers: secure accommodation, deprivation of liberty and the inherent jurisdiction’ included two talks titled: Issues around secure accommodation and Identifying and managing deprivations of liberty in children cases. Delegates gave excellent feedback with comments such as “Very enjoyable and interesting, very good speakers.”

The next event in our series will be on Wednesday, 21 March 2018 from 5 pm – 6 pm, titled; Civil Remedies in Family Proceedings. The session is primarily aimed at care practitioners and will address the two avenues of applying for financial compensation: negligence (following the recent Court of Appeal decision in CN & Anor v Poole Borough Council [2017] EWCA Civ 2185) and via the Human Rights Act 1998. There will be a detailed consideration of the law relating to Human Rights Act claims and a discussion regarding procedure and potential cost consequences following the controversial High Court decisions in 2017.

You can follow the new series of training events and book your place in the next few weeks via Twitter searching the hashtag #SJCfamily18 or via our website by clicking here.

“This highly regarded set offers an impressive group of family barristers with a fine track record in an array of complex disputes. Members are frequently instructed in financial remedy cases involving international assets for married and unmarried couples. The set also remains a strong choice for private law children proceedings and jurisdictional disputes in relation to private law children.” Chambers UK, Family/Matrimonial (2018)

St John’s Chambers is delighted to announce our five newly trained mediators

Congratulations to our newly qualified trained mediators: James Pearce-Smith, Christopher Jones and Natasha Dzameh of our Commercial & Chancery Practice Group along with Vanessa McKinlay and Marcus Coates-Walker from Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury.

St John’s Chambers is delighted to announce that with these five newly trained mediators we now have a total of 26 within our Chambers.

Our newly qualified Members include: James Pearce-Smith, an experienced litigator who specialises in commercial and property disputes; Christopher Jones, a chancery and commercial specialist with particular emphasis on trust litigation and advice, contentious and non-contentious probate applications, real property litigation (particularly in relation to easements, restrictive covenants and contracts for the sale of land) and commercial and agricultural landlord and tenant disputes; and Natasha Dzameh, Bristol Law Society’s “Barrister of the Year 2017” who is a member of our Commercial and Chancery team. Natasha often appears in the County Court and the High Court for trials, procedural matters such as CMCs, CCMCs and PTRs, and interim applications e.g. pre-action disclosure, set aside, strike out and summary judgment.

From our Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury Practice Groups the following Members have also qualified this month: Vanessa McKinlay, Head of the Clinical Negligence Practice Group who leads a successful and expanding clinical negligence practice group. She brings a strong medical knowledge to her extensive clinical negligence practice and to personal injury cases in which complex medical issues arise; and Marcus Coates-Walker, who deals in personal injury, clinical negligence and inquest work. He is regularly instructed to conduct cases on the Fast-Track and Multi-Track and is very experienced in conducting trials and interim hearings, drafting pleadings and Part 35 questions to experts, and providing advice on liability, quantum and settlement tactics.

Our barristers are happy to travel to you, or alternatively we are able to host mediations here at St John’s Chambers without any additional costs. The main conference room can comfortably house up to 24 people. Video conferencing is available along with Wi-Fi, and all necessary catering and refreshments can be provided.

To instruct one of our barristers on a mediation matter please contact the following clerks:

| 0117 923 4740

| 0117 923 4730

Leslie Blohm QC speaks at the official launch of the Bristol Business & Property Courts

Leslie Blohm QCFriday the 12th January marked the official opening ceremony of the Bristol Business & Property Courts.

  • The event saw speeches from;
    The Lord Chief Justice of England & Wales (Rt Hon The Lord Burnett of Maldon),
    The Chancellor of the High Court (Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Vos),
    The Judge in Charge of the Commercial Court (Popplewell J),
    The Supervising Judge of the Business & Property Courts of the Western Circuit (Birss J) with the Presiding Judge of the Western Circuit (May J) in the chair.
    Leslie Blohm QC spoke on behalf of the local practitioners.
  • Other Judges and dignitaries present included;
    HHJ Cotter QC (Designated Civil Judge)
    HHJ Paul Matthews
    HHJ Russen QC
    DJ Cope
    DJ Cronin
    DJ Rowe
    DJ Howell
    DJ Watson
    The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Bristol – Councillor Lesley Alexander
    Anthony Brown Esq High Sheriff of Bristol.

A copy of the Lord Chief Justice’s speech can be found by clicking here.

The opening ceremony was followed by a reception held at the University of Law.

Applications are now open for St John’s Chambers 2019 Pupillage

Applications for St John’s Chambers 2019 Pupillage are now open. To apply please refer to the Guidance Notes where you will also be prompted to complete our Equality & Diversity Questionnaire after submitting your completed Pupillage application form.

All completed application forms must be submitted and sent to Isabelle Mills at the following email address:  no later than Monday 5 February 2018 by 3 pm.

Downloadable documents

St John’s Chambers is delighted to announce that Jeremy Phillips has been appointed Queens Counsel

Jeremy Phillips is an associate member of St John’s, and an expert in planning / highways, regulation, licensing and mediation. We congratulate Jeremy on this achievement in being appointed Queens Counsel. The formal silk ceremony will take place on Monday the 26 February 2018 at the Palace of Westminster, London.

This year’s competition sees a total of 119 new appointments, a full list of which can be found by clicking here.

If you would like to instruct Jeremy please contact his clerks:  | 0117 923 4740

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 

Zoë Saunders elected as a bencher of The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn

Congratulations to our Family Practice Group Member, Zoë Saunders who has been elected as a bencher of The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn. Zoë has extensive experience of cohabitation disputes involving ToLATA and Applications under Schedule 1 of the Children Act, and is often asked to advise both in writing and in conference as well as acting in disputed cases in the High Court, County Court and before the land registry adjudicator. She has expertise in financial remedy cases involving multiple properties, trusts of land, complex pensions and insolvency. In addition to her tenancy in Chambers , Zoë has been a Member of the Gray’s Inn barristers committee and an advocacy trainer for the Inn for a number of years as well.

Zoë is a strong advocate who you know will always give clients sensible, realistic advice but won’t shy away from pursuing challenging routes.” “Very thorough, good on her feet and clients love her.Chambers UK, Family/Matrimonial (2018)

To instruct Zoë on a Family matter please contact her clerks on 0117 923 4720 or email

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