Articles & Publications

Y (Leave to Oppose Adoption), Re [2020] EWCA Civ 1287

21st October 2020

Barrister: Sophie Smith-Holland
Source: Family Law Week

Summary: This was an appeal made by a local authority against a decision of HHJ Wicks in adoption proceedings concerning a child, Y (aged 2 years and 8 months). HHJ Wicks had granted Y’s parents leave to oppose the making of an adoption order. The appeal was dismissed. Of wider interest is the fact that this was the first remote hearing before the Court of Appeal involving litigants with hearing difficulties. The court referred the matter to the President and MacDonald J to consider whether the guidance on the conduct of remote and hybrid hearings needs amendment to address the difficulties faced by disabled litigants in general and those with hearing loss in particular.

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Amendments to Costs Budgeting Rules

2nd October 2020

As of 1st October 2020 several amendments to costs’ budgeting rules and the related Practice Direction come into force. In this article Justin Valentine reviews those changes and offers some practical advice as to their likely effect.

Read full here

If you would like to instruct Justin Valentine in relation to a clinical negligence or personal injury matter, please contact his clerks: [email protected] or 0117 923 4730.

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Commercial Newsletter Summer 2020 edition

24th September 2020

Barrister: John Dickinson, Nick Pointon, Natasha Dzameh, Annie Sampson & Georgina Thompson
Source: St John’s Chambers
Summary: This issue features seven different articles which focus on various recent points of interest within the commercial and insolvency sphere. The articles cover everything from furlough to ferraris and include the write-up of a notable case in which a member of our specialist Commercial team acted and advised.

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Child Support, Coronavirus and Changes in Circumstances

18th September 2020

Barrister: Jody Atkinson
Source: Family Law Week

Summary: Jody Atkinson, barrister of St John’s Chambers, Bristol, explains the options available to parents receiving or paying child support whose financial circumstances may have been badly affected by the recent turmoil.


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Disqualifying an alleged de facto director (Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy v Rahman)

27th August 2020

John Dickinson writes article for Lexis®PSL:
Restructuring & Insolvency analysis: The Secretary of State applied for an order under section 8 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 to disqualify Mr Rahman as a director. The allegation was that Mr Rahman was a de facto director (a person who assumes the duties of a director) of a company that had employed illegal migrant workers in its restaurant business. The court held that Mr Rahman was not involved in running the business and the claim was dismissed. The judgment includes a helpful summary of the case law for the test to be applied as to what amounts to being a de facto director and the evidence required to meet that test. Written by John Dickinson, barrister, at St John’s Chambers, Bristol, who represented Mr Rahman at the trial.

This article was first published by Lexis®PSL on 20/08/2020 here

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Re D-S (Contact with Children in Care: Covid-19)

13th August 2020

Barrister: Sophie Smith-Holland
Source: Family Law Week

SummaryThis was a successful appeal against a decision of HHJ Lea to refuse a mother’s application for direct contact to her children (who were being cared for by the Local Authority) as the lockdown restrictions eased. Appeal allowed.

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Re S (Parental Alienation: Cult: Transfer of Primary Care) [2020] EWHC 1940 (Fam)

31st July 2020

Barrister: Harriet Dudbridge
Source: Family Law Week
Summary: Harriet summarises the judgment for family law week about transfer of residence of a 9 year old to father’s care after mother failed to adequately disengage from the cult of Universal Medicine. There is to be no direct or indirect contact between mother and child over the Summer, and the reintroduction of contact between mother and child is to be decided by the father in consultation with the ISW.

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The PIBA Guide to Pension Loss Calculation written by James Rowley QC and our very own Matthew White

24th July 2020

St John’s Chambers is pleased to announce the publication of the PIBA Guide to Pension Loss Calculation written by James Rowley QC and our very own Matthew White. This 152 page book covers all that you might want to know about how to calculate pension loss correctly including:

  • the differences between money purchase and defined benefit pension schemes and how to handle them
  • dealing with lump sum payments
  • the effect of actuarial reduction in the event of retirement before state pension age
  • how to handle multipliers and multiplicands based on the 8th edition of the Ogden tables
  • example calculations to take you through every element of claiming loss, all based on Ogden-8
  • the main terms of all of the major public sector pension defined benefit schemes

This book explains to personal injury lawyers what they need to know to calculate pension loss without the assistance of a pensions expert.

In writing the foreword, Lord Justice Irwin says “This publication calls for compliments, but I am not being merely complimentary in suggesting it will become indispensable.“

The book can be purchased from the Personal Injury Bar Association website, or by clicking “BUY NOW”

If you would like to preview the first few pages of the book, click here

If you would like to instruct Matthew White in a Personal Injury matter, please contact his clerks: [email protected] or 0117 923 4730.

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University gets green light to serve alcohol at student hub – Bristol Live

16th July 2020

Alcohol will be sold on the ground floor of a student hub at the heart of the University of Bristol’s campus, after permission for a licence was given.The plan comes as the Hawthorns building, where alcohol is served and live performances are held, is set to be turned into a flagship £80m library.

Representing the university, Roy Light told Bristol City Council’s licensing subcommittee on July 9: “This is an application by the University of Bristol, a major employer in Bristol, which is bravely investing a huge amount of money in new facilities for students and the general public to use.


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Competition Law: Recent lessons for small businesses, company owners and directors, and the self-employed

14th July 2020

Many small businesses and the self-employed may be forgiven for thinking that competition law only applies to large, often multi-national companies. However, they would be wrong to do so. A number of very recent cases in which SMEs and self-employed professionals have either been found to have been involved in anti-competitive practices, or are under investigation for suspected anti-competitive behaviour, provide a very strong warning that all businesses, however small, must be aware of and comply with the Competition Act 1998. In a new note, specialist competition law barrister Matthew O’Regan considers these cases and their implications for the owners and directors of SMEs and self-employed traders and professionals.

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Re C (Children)(Covid-19: Representation) [2020] EWCA Civ 734

13th July 2020

Barrister: Sophie Smith-Holland
Source: Family Law Week

Summary:This was an appeal against a decision of Williams J to continue a hybrid fact finding hearing in care proceedings when leading counsel for the mother could not be physically present with her client when she gave live evidence in court, because she was required to shield. Appeal refused. The Court of Appeal held that there was no breach of the mother’s article 6 rights and not only did the Judge reach a decision that was plainly open to him, he reached the correct decision.

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E-Scooters: The Legal Road Ahead

10th July 2020

Patrick West looks at the potential impact of the introduction of e-scooters on UK roads.

The last time a totally new type of electric vehicle appeared on our roads in January 1985 it was the Sinclair C5.

Although it looked like a space-age solution to traffic congestion and pollution by Christmas it had bombed and retailers were selling them at a 65% discount.

The British Safety Council tested the C5 at Sinclair Vehicles’ headquarters in Warwick and issued a highly critical report to its 32,000 members. Sinclair threatened to sue BSC chairman, James Tye, for defamation after Tye told the press: “I am shattered that within a few days 14-year-old children will be allowed to drive on the road in this Doodle Bug without a licence … without insurance and without any form of training.”

Later, Tye described himself as “the man entirely to blame for the failure of the Sinclair C5.”

There were of course technical problems too with a number of the C5s prematurely whirring to a halt at its launch at Alexandra Palace in January 1985 (even Formula 1 legend Stirling Moss was left high and dry by a failed battery).

The new kid on the block is the e-scooter. Around the world their advent has been met with both delight and concern.

Last week the Government signalled the start of on-road e-scooter trials in the UK (excluding Northern Ireland). Previously e-scooters were illegal on the road.

The Electric Scooter Trials and Traffic Signs (Coronavirus) Regulations and General Directions 2020 amends the Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2002 came into force on 4 July 2020. It adds e-scooters to the list of road vehicles (Reg 4) although it restricts the use of e-scooters on the road to “e-scooters being used in a trial”. Privately owned and operated e-scooters remain illegal on the road.

Protective headgear will be required by the newly amended Reg 4 of the Motorcycles (Protective Helmets) Regulations 1998.

In addition, users will be permitted to drive the e-scooters involved in the trials if they have a provisional licence (Reg 5 of the Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999.

Other measures introduced in the amended Traffic Signs Regulations 2016 permit the e-scooters in the trial to use cycle lanes and shared spaces such as pedestrian/cycle pavements (but not ordinary pedestrian-only pavements).

The Department for Transport anticipates that “training of some sort will be offered” by the rental firms participating in the trials although it does not specify how much training or what form the training will take.

The DfT also intends to conduct an impact assessment in due course.

The legislative history of electric vehicles is not straightforward and the outlook for e-scooters is no clearer.

The C5 was manufactured with a 250W electric motor and under the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle Regulations 1983 it was not a motor vehicle within the meaning of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and therefore required no tax and no insurance. The same regulations apply to EPACs today although most EAPCs now have a more conventional appearance as electric bicycles with two wheels and a normal bicycle frame.

Under the present trial e-scooters are required to have insurance. Other than that it is hard to see much difference between the C5 and the e-scooter.

The C5 had a top speed of 15 mph. E-scooters in the trial are limited to a top speed of 15.5 mph. In Europe some countries permit scooters to reach up to 18 mph on the road. E-scooters which are not regulated (i.e. legal only on private land) can reach speeds of up to 60mph but it seems unlikely that such machines would ever be legally allowed on the road.

Both the C5 and the e-scooter are relatively flimsy vehicles with the obvious potential for harm to the rider. In addition due to their electric motors it’s hard to hear e-scooters coming. The Royal National Institute for the Blind has raised serious concerns about the danger e-scooters pose to blind pedestrians.

The C5 was cheap to buy (about £200 in old money). E-scooters currently retail for between £100 – £1000 and it is assumed rental rates will be competitive for a mass market.

All this suggests e-scooters will become popular and that UK roads will see a very substantial increase in e-scooter road users very quickly. For example, in August 2018 Tel Aviv allowed the introduction of rental e-scooters to its notoriously congested road network and within a year there were 7,500 of the vehicles scooting about. Interestingly, one negative impact there was the way users abandoned them almost anywhere after they had finished using them. It is anticipated that there are already 200,000 e-scooters already in use in this country (off road).

Given the similarities of the C5 and the e-scooter and that electric bikes are not required to have cover it is hard to see how the Government will be able to justify the insurance requirement for long. No doubt commercial entities will be lobbying ministers in that respect too.

So it may well be that the insurance requirement for e-scooters in this country is a temporary restriction. In fact, the Department for Transport has said it may eventually treat the e-scooter as an EAPC just like the C5 removing the need for cover.

Where does that leave us lawyers? Well, notwithstanding the Government’s optimistic statement about training e-scooter riders, it’s almost certain we will soon be seeing road traffic collisions involving e-scooter users.

The difference between the C5 and the e-scooter is that Sinclair’s velocipede never killed or seriously injured anyone (probably as it was not on the roads long enough). Unfortunately, the e-scooter has already become associated with a risk of serious accidents partly due to the death of the 35 year-old TV presenter Emily Hartridge last year in Battersea while riding an e-scooter.

It is not difficult to anticipate the potential for serious if not catastrophic head injury cases or indeed pedestrians who might be seriously injured if hit by a scooter driven by a larger rider. The Regulations permit the weight limit of e-scooters on the road to be 55kg rather than the earlier planned limit of 35kg and power will be 500W rather than 350W. All this increases the risk of hospitalisation to anyone struck by one.

There are likely to be individuals who do not use the helmets provided, raising the prospect of a new type of Froome v Butcher style pleading of contributory negligence by defendants.

The question of liability will of course revolve around the tortious standard of care of the reasonably competent driver. Given the likely popularity of the e-scooter with the young and the fact that only provisional licences are required it seems inevitable that plenty of users will fall below that standard in causing accidents.

There is strong potential for e-scooters to come into conflict with other e-scooters, cyclists and pedestrians bearing in mind they are free to range in cycle lanes and other mixed-use areas.

As to insurance issues, Part VI of the Road Traffic Act 1988 requires motor insurance to be in place for liabilities arising from the use of “a motor vehicle on a road or other public place”.

Under S 151 a road traffic insurer will have contingent liability even if they are not liable under the policy.

What the new Regulations suggest is that the insurance will be to the full extent (unlimited) cover required by the Road Traffic Act and provided by an authorised motor insurer.

Short-term insurance or pay as you go style policies purchased by the same App used to hire the e-scooter or another App will probably be used.


One issue for claimants injured by e-scooter riders may be that the riders are drunk or under the influence of other illegal substances. That will no doubt result in them not being indemnified by the insurer in question.

However, it seems reasonably clear that the current definition of rental e-scooters in the trial as motor vehicles will bring them within the scope of cover under the MIB Agreements in cases of uninsured or untraced drivers who cause accidents.

If, as seems likely given the above indication from the DfT, we face a situation in the future where e-scooters are permitted on roads without insurance claimants injured by allegedly negligent e-scooter riders will face much greater problems.

There may be cover for the rider in the shape of home insurance and other policies although it may not be unlimited.

There is also the frightening prospect of the “man of straw” defendant scenario where an e-scooter rider has no cover, no assets and no real prospect of satisfying a high value judgment against him or her.


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A Review and Commentary on the Report of the Gosport Independent Panel

8th July 2020

The Gosport Independent Panel was set up to investigate long-running concerns of a number of families that the lives of their loved ones had been shortened whilst patients at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital. In June 2018 the Panel produced their report (“the Report”). The key medical finding is that there was a culture of shortening lives by prescribing and administering “dangerous doses” of opiate medication not clinically-indicated. Patients were, in effect, put on a terminal care pathway on admission.

In this article Justin Valentine reviews the Report’s findings both in relation to what happened at the hospital and the extent to which the families were let down by all those in authority, not only the hospital but also the police, the coronial system and the relevant regulatory organisations. Twenty years since the events dealt with by the Report there still outstanding police investigations and prosecutions may follow.

The scale of wrongdoing and subsequent inability of official bodies properly to investigate is staggering and Justin Valentine suggests what can be learnt by legal practitioners from the failures highlighted by the Report.

If you would like to instruct Justin Valentine in relation to a clinical negligence or personal injury matter, please contact his clerks: [email protected] or 0117 923 4730.

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Cashflow and Covid 19: Interim Payments On Account Of Costs

26th June 2020

St John’s Chambers barrister, James Marwick has written an article for AvMA Lawyers Service Newsletter. This article examines the circumstances in which payments for an order on account of costs can be made in ongoing proceedings.

You can view a copy of the article here.

If you would like to instruct James on a Clinical Negligence matter, please contact his clerks: [email protected] or 0117 923 4730

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Coroners, Coronavirus and controversy

25th June 2020

An article by barrister, David Regan as been published in the New Law Journal.

Thorny dilemmas for coroners

Coroners are experiencing difficulties when assessing which COVID-19 deaths to investigate, barrister David Regan has warned.

Coroners must determine whether to investigate a death, for example, if human error is involved, the death is violent or unnatural or caused by industrial disease. However, medical knowledge of the coronavirus is at an early stage, and the link between work and infection is easier to prove in a care worker than a shop worker.

Writing in this week’s NLJ, Regan of St John’s Chambers said: ‘Identifying which COVID-19 deaths are unnatural―and thus require coronial investigation and inquest―is not straightforward.

‘It is likely to give rise to a number of challenges. Deaths caused by exposure in work give rise to the greatest difficulty.’

In contrast, Regan says, the Lord Advocate has directed that all COVID-19 or presumed COVID-19 deaths in Scotland where the deceased might have contracted the infection at work or in a care home must be reported to the Procurator Fiscal, who performs the coronial role. See p7.


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Financial remedy update Summer 2020

22nd June 2020

Barrister: Christopher Sharp QC
Source: FLBA’s ‘Family Affairs’
Summary: Christopher Sharp QC who is acknowledged by Chambers UK as one of only five star Silks in family law in the country, reviews the more important recent financial remedy cases during the course of the year with termly articles, written for and published within FLBA’s ‘Family Affairs’.

His article for FLBA’s ‘Family Affairs’ Summer 2020 edition is now available and can be downloaded here.

All his previous articles are also available to download from Christopher’s online website profile here.

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B-T (A Child: Threshold Conditions) [2020] EWCA Civ 697

18th June 2020

Barrister: Sophie Smith-Holland
Source: Family Law Week

Summary:This is a Court of Appeal judgment concerning the lower court’s decision to dismiss care proceedings because the section 31 threshold had not been crossed and refusal to continue the interim care order pursuant to section 40, pending appeal. The Court of Appeal substituted its own threshold findings and restored the interim care order which revived the care proceedings. The matter was then remitted for a welfare hearing.

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Proprietary estoppel and proportionality following the case of Habberfield: back to the heart of the doctrine

15th June 2020

Anyone with an interest in proprietary estoppel should read Adam Boyle’s new article. Adam is noted as a specialist in proprietary estoppel by Chambers & Partners and in this thought-provoking article he discusses the state of the doctrine following the case of Habberfield

Read full here

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Covid-19: Competition And State Aid Law During The Coronavirus Crisis

8th June 2020

Barrister: Matthew O’Regan

Summary: To assist businesses and public authorities, specialist competition and State aid barrister, Matthew O’Regan has prepared a guide to how UK and EU competition law and EU State aid law will apply during the COVID-19 crisis. Matthew is continuing to work remotely and can advise law firms, local authorities and other public bodies, businesses and individuals on all aspects of competition and State aid law.

This continues to be a fast-developing area. Matthew has therefore updated his guide to reflect developments up to 8th June 2020. These include:

  • New exclusions from UK and EU competition law for collaboration in the dairy and dairy products industries
  • An update on the CMA’s work to control profiteering
  • Extensions to the EU COVID-19 State Aid Temporary Framework to cover support in the form of subordinated debt and, subject to strict conditions, aid to recapitalise companies through state provision of equity or hybrid capital
  • A new section on merger control, which in particular considers the application of the ‘failing firm defence’ when a business is in financial difficulty as a result of the crisis

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Success in the Court of Appeal for Leslie Blohm QC and Alex Troup

8th June 2020

Leslie Blohm QC and Alex Troup of the Wills & Trust Team, instructed by Burges Salmon LLP, represented the successful Appellant, Robert Sofer, in the case of Sofer v. Swissindependent Trustees SA [2020] EWCA Civ 699.

The Appellant claims that a professional Swiss trustee company acted in breach of trust by paying out over US$19 million from the trust fund to the settlor at his request, notwithstanding a prohibition in the trust instrument on the trustees making any advances to the settlor.

The trustees applied to strike out the claim on the basis of an exoneration clause which covered all breaches save for dishonesty, but that application was dismissed on appeal. The Court of Appeal further rejected the trustees’ application for reverse summary judgment based upon a deed of indemnity, signed by the Appellant, which recited that the payments were authorised loans.

The Court of Appeal’s judgment contains important guidance on the principles applicable to the pleading of a dishonest breach of trust sufficient to overcome a trustee exoneration clause. It also contains a useful discussion of the proper construction of a contractual indemnity and of the principles of waiver and estoppel by convention.

A copy of the Court of Appeal’s judgment can be found here.

If you would like to instruct Leslie or Alex on a related matter then please contact their clerks: [email protected] or 0117 923 4740.

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