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Combining the highest levels of expertise with advanced working methods and systems....
I have for many years been well established as one of the UK's leading barristers. Now I am able to offer my services as fully independent leading counsel, not tied to any particular chambers, and able to work with any instructing lawyers and junior counsel who share my aim to work in our client's best interests.
Whilst the first lawyer in my extended family, I am married to a solicitor, have a solicitor daughter, a solicitor sister, 3 solicitor brothers in law, and 1 solicitor sister in law. 😱😉 I may therefore have some understanding of the challenges of making a sensible business out of bringing claims for people usually under CFA terms, and I am happy to work on flexible terms and to consider new funding methods and arrangements provided they are workable within our professional obligations. You will see what I wrote about this in my blog here. Don't hesitate to be in touch to discuss. In sole practice I have the freedom to discuss these issue with you direct, and I have found that that makes things very much more straightforward, with far less room for misunderstanding about our respective positions and how we can all help each other, lawyers and clients alike.
What types of case can I handle?
In my complex injury practice, I acts for clients who face the challenges of significant physical or psychiatric disability, or both, or, where the injury has sadly resulted in death, for the deceased person's family and dependants, and I fight hard to ensure that they obtain proper compensation to help them overcome and manage their injuries or loss of their loved one, and maximise their quality of life going forward.
My unique approach, combining the highest levels of empathy with rigorous and technically driven analysis, clarity of professional advice, strategic awareness and what has been described as "a steely determination", is what differentiates me, making for the highest prospects of success for clients.
However, my practice is not limited to injury related work. As my Supreme Court work on devolution issues as Counsel General for Wales, and in other test cases like Baker v Quantum and Goldscheider v Royal Opera House, has demonstrated, I am also a broad-based "common lawyer" and so a highly effective strategic leader in test litigation and appellate work in common law fields including tort, public and constitutional law, and human rights.
I enjoy leading large or small teams of lawyers, depending on the type of case, and will always support my team members and take overall responsibility for the team's work and results.
What sort of barrister am I?
Preparation and Perfomance
You would, I'm sure, expect a KC to be an excellent lawyer. Taking that as a given, I am well known for hard work and exemplary preparation of my cases, both when advising and when representing my clients. You can expect me to have carefully considered in advance the instructions you send me, so that discussion in consultation with me, or my advice in writing, will be comprehensive and effective to answer your questions about the case.
Achieving the Right Settlement
Of course many cases settle without the need for a court to rule upon the parties' disputes. I am also a very tough negotiator, always open to settlement discussions and meetings, but quite prepared to have my client "walk away" if the deal is not right. So much so, that an opposing lawyer recently tried to persuade my client and instructing solicitor not to instruct me for a second settlement meeting because it was alleged I had been "difficult" in the first. Unsuccessfully. Neither the solicitor nor the client agreed there was anything "difficult" about my approach, and the client (and the client's businessman litigation friend) took the view that it was precisely my job to challenge firmly the arguments of the other side. The case settled at the second meeting; I secured a doubled offer approaching £2m. Courteously of course. In another recent example, the Defendant insurer refused to improve their offer of £500,000 at a settlement meeting until we made significant reduction in our demands realistically valued at £900,000. On my advice and with my support the client, for whom this was a difficult decision, walked away. 3 days later the claim settled for £800,000.
As Chair of the Bar Council's Wellbeing At The Bar Working Group for 2021, I well understand and am sympathetic to, the pressures of life of all kinds, and perhaps particularly for injured and bereaved people. I am also Chair of Welsh Rowing, and a keen advocate of an active and healthy lifestyle, especially conducive to the long term wellbeing of people managing disability, and always encourage my clients to pursue sport and other challenging activities; I really enjoy identifying new equipment and other support that can help them achieve their personal aims, and which can therefore be the basis of reasonable claims for compensation to provide the required equipment and support. In a recent case my client had, with the encouragement of his employer as part of his rehabilitation from serious injury, taken up Paralympic competition and competed at the Rio round. A claim was prepared and presented for the costs of his continuing to pursue that new sporting career, including the costs of attending international events to maintain his eligibility for Olympic selection.
Personal Approach and Engagement
I am well known in my legal and academic work as a sympathetic, approachable, collaborative and completely reliable person with an especially practical and pragmatic approach to complex data and problem-solving. I will always want to meet my client at the first opportunity, usually in his/her home in order fully to understand the client's normal environment and the challenges presented by the particular forms of disability and loss.
Systems and Technology
I am a highly interactive and responsive professional, and work in a highly efficient and modern way, normally entirely "digitally", using online legal research resources, conferencing sytems, and GDPR compliant secure online folders for transmission of instructions, documents, advice and drafting.
I provide a broad range of services and solutions to help individuals navigate the complexities of their legal rights and the justice system, to achieve, perhaps essentially, what they need, but also, equally importantly, what they want - for themselves and their families.
Traditional instruction by legal professionals
With many years of broad advisory and litigation experience, at the independent UK Bar and as the lead advisor to a Government, I provide my particular brand of approachability, rapid response and superb communication, with highly analytical approach to legal issues and assessment of the value of complex claims, including detailed spreadsheet analysis for consideration of variables affecting individual heads of loss and the overall effects of combinations of those variables.
I have frequently been asked to join the team to lead at the appeal stage and am happy to do so.
I am also well known as a brave advocate in all types of complex and catastrophic injury claims, prepared to take on and fight difficult cases in settlement meetings, at trial, and on appeal (all the way if required!). I have been instructed in a number of cutting edge injury cases, including:
* for the police officers injured when they attended the Grenfell Tower disaster and its immediate aftermath (De Costa v LFC  EWHC 2718 (QB) SM Fontaine)
* for a world class musician seriously injured by noise at work in the Royal Opera House orchestra (Goldscheider v ROH  EWCA Civ 711, Court of Appeal)
* for soldiers who served in Afghanistan who contracted Q Fever (one of the Helmand Fever group) and suffered the permanent and seriously debilitating chronic fatigue syndrome associated with the disease (Eaglesham v MOD  EWHC 3011 (QB) Andrews J; Bass & Taylor v MOD  EWHC 1297 (QB) and  EWHC 36 (QB) Spencer J)
* for noise injury of factory workers in the clothing and sewing industry (Baker v Quantum  UKSC 17, Supreme Court)
Some of these cases are "group" cases, from which I have learned high levels of organisation in the preparation of cases, whilst bringing to bear the same objective but empathetic determination to achieve the best for our client equally to individual claims for injured persons.
Proper maximisation of the claim
It is crucial to future wellbeing and quality of life of injured persons that their future needs are fully and appropriately catered for, and also that they receive compensation to cover as fully as possible costs, expense, and pain and suffering which have already been suffered and which will continue to be suffered.
Those of us who have been involved in injury claims over recent decades have seen the awards made in injury claims increase significantly, even adjusted for inflation, and this is attributable to a much more mathematical approach to analysing accurately how much money is really required "to put the claimant in the position s/he would have been had the injury not been suffered at all", which is the correct legal test.
A very good example of this is the recent revisiting by the Court of Appeal of the method of computing the damages required properly to compensate someone whose injury means that they need to move home to a more disability friendly environment, in light of the change from positive returns on investment of awards to negative rates of return, as eg. reflected in the "discount rate" now used in England & Wales (-0.25%, recently "raised" from -0.75% after being set at +2.5% for many years): Swift v Carpenter  EWCA Civ 1295.
Throughout my career, I have been at the forefront of use of technology, to provide better analysis of technical issues and presentation of evidence, and for computation of damages. In the early days of practice, I was once prevented from using a laptop in court by a judge who said the typing was making too much noise, and in the early days there was a doubt about whether it was lawful for litigants and lawyers to plug in to the electrical supply in courts to power their laptops!
Times have changed since those attitudes existed, and now there is ever increasing need to be abreast of, and deploy, scientific analytical methods and technology as they develop.
I believe firmly that there is no longer - if there ever was - room for the barrister whose "gut feeling" is that £x is the appropriate sum for a particular head of loss, and still less if that "gut feeling" is directed at the "right" award overall. Today a detailed and analytical approach to assessment is required instead, and I am highly skilled in these techniques.
It is not sufficient or appropriate to rely upon proprietary software to do this. The computation of damages is, as well as highly technical, also in part a creative exercise, with ranges of possible result, and an injured person expects and deserves that his/her lawyer will argue for the top, and not just accept the bottom, of those ranges.
To do that effectively, and also persuasively to present claims to a judge if a trial is needed, requires a full understanding of how the numbers work, what is "under the bonnet", so to speak. I provide that technical expertise.