James Counsell QC
Year of Call:
James Counsell, QC is widely recognised in the fields of Clinical and Professional Negligence and in Personal Injury, acting both for claimants and for defendants. He also specialises in acting for victims of historic sexual abuse, having recently acted as lead counsel in the first successful claim against the Jehovah’s Witness organisation.
James acts for claimants and financial institutions in claims based upon the alleged mis-selling of financial products and breaches of FSMA and at common law.
His claims work is combined with a busy disciplinary and regulatory practice, regularly representing doctors, dentists, solicitors, accountants and those in the financial services sector in their respective disciplinary tribunals.
Besides defence regulatory work, he regularly represents the Council of Lloyd’s in enforcement proceedings brought against its members by the Society of Lloyd’s and recently conducted an extensive and high profile inquiry leading to successful enforcement proceedings against a Lloyd’s managing agency and its senior officers. James is also an active member of the BSB Prosecuting Panel and has represented BSB in a number of high profile cases against well known barristers in the last year or so.
In the past year or so, James has been involved in a wide range of cases involving, amongst other issues, allegations of negligence in the fields of general surgery. This has included failure to staple after bowel removal, failure to treat abscess leading to septicaemia and death, spinal surgery (decompression), orthopaedics (hip replacement and hip resurfacing, foot and back and knee surgery and failure to diagnose surgical error leading to leg amputation. Additionally, he has expertise in obstetrics (delivery delay, leading to brain damage / failure to intubate, leading to death), general practice (failure to act on histological report indicating carcinoma / failure to refer to specialist, leading to amputation, failure to identify cancerous mole, failure to advise on hepatitis, failure to identify diabetes), vascular surgery (failure to treat post-thrombotic syndrome) and paediatrics (failure to detect hip dysplasia, shortly after birth).
Besides clinical issues, he has recently successfully acted for a patient in a consent case where the patient was not told of a switch of clinician and in a Montgomery case in which failure to explain treatment options is alleged.
The split of his work is roughly 40/60 between claimant and defendant.
James also regularly represents doctors at inquests, and acted for two clinicians in the ongoing inquiry into Hyponatraemia-related deaths (O’Hara J) in Northern Ireland (report awaited).
Jones v Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (Lawtel 22 September 2015)
Acted for claimant in successful claim against Trust for failure to “consent” patient properly by informing her of change of surgeon before spinal surgery.
Evans v Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust  EWHC 4132 (QB)
Brain damage caused after premature discharge from A&E. Case is leading authority on circumstances in which Part 36 offeror may withdraw offer early after receiving anonymous tip-off that the claim was a sham.
Harris v South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust
Successful defence of orthopaedic surgeon (Trial mid 2015) alleged to have performed hip replacement surgery negligently.
Oakes v Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust
Successfully defended psychiatrist in 2014 against allegations prescribed wrong psychotic drug, leading to diabetes.
Glaister (Wheeler) v IOW HNS Trust (2015)
Acting for Estate of patient who died after contracting septicaemia arising out of allegedly negligent failure properly to treat abscess.
Howe v Taunton & Somerset NHS Foundation Trust (ongoing)
Acting for Claimant who sustained brain injuries as a result of alleged delay in treating subdural haematoma.
Browring v Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (ongoing)
Claim for severe knee injuries caused in allegedly negligently performed replacement operation.
Pinnick v Fitzherbert (2016)
Acting for claimant, in claim against GP, who suffered injuries as a result of delay in treatment of type 1 diabetes, leading to severe diabetic complications including almost complete loss of mobility.
Appointments & Memberships
- European Circuit
- Western Circuit
Areas of Law
- Clinical Negligence
- Disciplinary & Regulatory
- Financial Services
- Personal Injury
- Child & Adult Abuse
- International Illness, Injury & Travel
- Professional Negligence
“Thorough, approachable and very switched-on in relation to the issues that need to be resolved.” Clinical Negligence, Chambers & Partners 2018
“Technical, well prepared and a very good advocate.” Professional Discipline, Chambers & Partners 2018
“Very meticulous and excellent on his feet.” Professional Discipline, Chambers & Partners 2018
“His calm, collected style is particularly effective with difficult clients and complex issues.” Professional Discipline & Regulatory Law, Legal 500 2017
“Calm, robust and steady in difficult circumstances.” Financial Services, Legal 500 2017
“Exactly the sort of person you want to take you through a trial.” Banking & Finance, Legal 500 2017
“He’s very detail-focused, he picks up on absolutely everything and he’s very good at digesting large quantities of information in a very short period of time.” Professional Discipline, Chambers & Partners 2017
“unflappable exterior makes him a really polished performer before the panels. He is well received whenever he appears.” Professional Discipline, Chambers & Partners 2017
“Extremely thorough and knowledgeable.” Professional Discipline and Regulatory Law, Legal 500 2016
“Highly experienced in mis-selling and negligence claims.” Banking and Finance, Legal 500 2016
“He’s absolutely superb as he’s very quick on the uptake of issues and has no mannerisms or posturing.” Professional Discipline, Chambers & Partners 2016
“He addresses things in exactly the right way for each individual client.” Professional Discipline, Chambers & Partners 2016
“A well-regarded specialist in financial regulatory, banking and insurance law.” Banking & Finance, Legal 500 2015
“He is always well prepared.” Professional Discipline & Regulatory Law, Legal 500 2015