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James Counsell QC

James Counsell QC

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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 historical sexual abuse, having recently acted as lead counsel in the first successful claim against the Jehovah’s Witness organisation. He currently represents numerous claimants in cases against football clubs and other sporting bodies, religious and educational organisations and the Scout Association.

James also 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, barristers, solicitors and those in the financial services sector in their respective disciplinary tribunals.

Besides defence regulatory work, he represents the Council of Lloyd’s in enforcement proceedings brought against its members by the Society of Lloyd’s. He is also an active member of the BSB Prosecuting Panel and has represented BSB in a number of recent high profile cases against well known barristers in the last year or so, including proceedings against Constance Briscoe, Shaun Wallace, Damian McCarthy Howard Godfrey, QC and Martin Pointer, QC.

Clinical Negligence

James has recently acted on both sides in cases involving allegations of negligence in the fields of general surgery – failure to staple after bowel removal, failure to treat abscess leading to septicaemia and death, spinal surgery (decompression, treatment of spinal fractures), 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), paediatrics (failure to detect hip dysplasia, shortly after birth) and obstetrics (negligent caesarean section).

Besides clinical issues, he has recently successfully acted for a patient in a consent case where the patient was not told of a late switch of clinician and in a Montgomery case in which failure to explain treatment options is alleged.

The split of his work is roughly 50.50 between claimant and defendant.

James also represents doctors at inquests, and acted for two clinicians in the inquiry into Hyponatraemia-related deaths (O’Hara J) in Northern Ireland (report now published).


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 [2014] 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 alleged to have performed hip replacement surgery negligently.

Oakes v Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust

Successfully defended psychiatrist against allegations prescribed wrong psychotic drug, leading to diabetes.

Howe v Taunton & Somerset NHS Foundation Trust

Acted for Claimant who sustained brain injuries as a result of alleged delay in treating subdural haematoma.

Pinnick v Fitzherbert

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.

Bayley v George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust

Successfully defended Trust against allegation relating to treatment after DVT and alleged failures to consent.

Green v Nardo

Represented Trust in Quantum hearing after post natal negligent vaginal repair surgery

Welsh v Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust

Represented Trust in claim for negligent bariatric surgery resulting reversal and serious physical and psychiatric injuries

Wright v South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust

Acted for Trust in quantum only high value claim for damages arising out of negligent caesarian section.

ZZZ v Yeovil NHS Foundation Trust

Claim by insurers of negligent driver for contribution against hospital for alleged delayed diagnosis of spinal fracture leading to paraplegia. Acted for Trust in successful defence of claim.

Personal Injury

James has an extremely busy personal injury practice, representing mostly, but not exclusively claimants, often funded by CFAs. He specialises in acting for claimants in historical and more recent sex abuse claims against religious organisations, schools, the scouts and against football clubs and other sporting bodies and has recently acted for a successful claimant in the first successful historic sex abuse case against the Jehovah’s Witness organisation. He is currently representing the survivors of abuse committed by Barry Bennell in multiple claims against Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra and by Frank Roper against Blackpool Football Club and he also has cases against Chelsea FC in the high profile allegations against a former coach.

Much of his PI work involves claims arising out of serious injuries sustained in accidents at work and other health and safety contexts and he also acts for both parties in RTA claims, particularly in high value claims.


A v The Trustees of the Watchtower Bible Tract Society and Others [2015] EWHC 1722 (QB)

Landmark first successful claim against Jehovah’s Witnesses organisation for historic sexual abuse committed by one of its ministerial servants and for vicarious liability of elders in failing to safeguard member of congregation.

Rocks and Connolly v Nottingham Roman Catholic Diocesan Trustees and Another

Acting for claimants in two separate but linked claims based upon historic sexual abuse in church-based school.

Various Claimants v Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra Football Clubs

Acting for claimants in numerous claims against football clubs for historical sexual abuse committed by coach/scout, Barry Bennell, on very young aspiring footballers.

Various Claimants v Chelsea Football Club

Claims of historical physical, racial and sexual abuse committed by two former coaches of Chelsea Football Club against young black schoolboy and apprentice players.

Betteridge & Others v Leicestershire CC

Claims by claimants of historical abuse in children’s homes by staff and by Lord Janner

Mewse & Others v Deansgate 123 LLP

Claims by survivors of sexual abuse in a school against former solicitors for advice to settle at an undervalue.

PQR v The Conservation Volunteers

Claim by young charity volunteer with learning difficulties against charity for damages for psychiatric injuries sustained in assault by another volunteer, leading to onset or exacerbation of schizophrenia.

McCouid v Adamski

Acting for three members of same family in claim for extensive physical and psychiatric injuries in very serious RTA.

Lisney v CLC & Willmott Dixon (Trial in 2017)

Successfully represented claimant in claim for damages for very serious injuries sustained when he fell from scaffolding tower at work.

Disciplinary & Regulatory

James’s regulatory practice, on the defence side, is chiefly in the medical and dental field together with acting for solicitors and barristers.

He is frequently instructed (by all the principal defence organisations (including MPS, MDU, MDDUS) to represent doctors and dentists at the General Medical Council (the MPTS) and General Dental Council. His work has involved the full range of misconduct and heath cases, including clinical malpractice, dishonesty, sexual misconduct and health/addiction-related cases and he regularly conducts appeals in the Administrative Court.

As an active member of the BSB Prosecution Panel, he has prosecuted recent misconduct hearings against barristers leading to disbarment for dishonesty and has acted for the BSB in the high profile cases of Constance Briscoe, Shaun Wallace, Damien McCarthy, Howard Godfrey, QC and Martin Pointer, QC. He recently successfully defended in a case where a barrister was alleged to have assaulted the defendant outside court in a case where he was representing the claimant.

James has represented Lloyd’s of London in over 40 cases and assisted Lloyd’s in the complete redrafting of the misconduct byelaws in 2005. He led an inquiry for Lloyd’s into the conduct of a Lloyd’s Managing Agency and then prosecuted the subsequent successful disciplinary proceedings against the Company and its three senior officers. He has completed an enforcement case against a Lloyd’s member, found to have been dishonest in respect of brokerage.


Council of Lloyd’s v Equity Syndicate Management Limited and others

With Farhaz Khan, James represented the Council of Lloyd’s, in disciplinary proceedings against a Lloyd’s Managing Agent, its CEO, FD and Active Underwriter arising out of the circumstances surrounding a very substantial deterioration in ultimate net claims (assessed at £262 million). Led prosecution of subsequent disciplinary proceedings before the Lloyd’s Enforcement Tribunal resulting in settlement by all defendants shortly before the hearing was due to commence.

Link to press:

Council of Lloyd’s of London v M (Names withheld – not in public domain)

Three employees of Lloyd’s managing agents leaving one underwriting agency to go to a competitor, taking with them confidential information and seeking to “poach” business and clients for the benefit of their new employer in breach of Lloyd’s and contractual duties.

Council of Lloyd’s of London v Y (Name withheld)

Disciplinary proceedings against underwriting agent for misappropriating client money in Singapore.

Council of Lloyd’s v O’Sullivan

Disciplinary proceedings against Lloyd’s member of an LLP member alleging dishonesty as placing broker by misleading others as to nature of and extent of brokerage to be earned. Discreditable misconduct arising out of dishonestly obtaining more than US$1.7m out of deception found proved and banned from market, censured and ordered to pay costs. Successfully represented Council of Lloyd’s at disciplinary tribunal, appeal tribunal and before the Council in a second appeal by the Defendant.

GMC v Pool

Fitness to practise proceedings brought against expert witness (psychiatrist) for failing to act within limits of expertise. Appeal to Administrative Court partially successful – suspension quashed.

GMC v Walker

General Practitioner, working in botox clinic admitting allegations of sexual impropriety with patient, who, with her husband allegedly sought to blackmail him (husband convicted of blackmail). Complainant a dominatrix. Panel accepted his evidence that patient had a financial interest in continuing relations and played a leading role in what occurred, including filming it covertly. Doctor suspended rather than erased. Judicial review proceedings brought mid hearing to resolve challenge to decision to conduct hearing in public. Four week case.

Bar Standards Board v McCarthy

Prosecuted barrister accused of lying about the sending of client care letters in Direct Access instruction – disbarred. Represented BSB when barrister unsuccessfully appealed to Administrative Court

Bar Standards Board v Wallace

Prosecuted TV quiz barrister accused of misconduct when representing young defendant facing section 18 charge.

Bar Standards Board v Briscoe

Prosecuted barrister and former judge in respect of dishonesty in police investigation into Chris Huhne penalty points prosecution – disbarred.

Bar Standards Board v Jenkins

Secured acquittal of barrister facing allegation that he assaulted the defendant to possession proceedings outside court after hearing in which he was appearing for the claimant.

Howard Godfrey, QC v Bar Standards Board

Successfully represented the BSB in appeal brought by silk of 25 years, accused of misconduct by making offensive remarks during a criminal appeal about a 15 year old victim of a sexual assault committed by a stepfather.

Financial Services

Instructed both by claimants and defendants in financial services litigation. He successfully represented a couple against their bank in which the court considered the extent of the duties owed by the bank in providing information about fixed interest rate loans.


Thomas v Triodos Bank [2017] EWHC 314 (Lawtel AC0154076)

Counsel for the Claimants in claim heard by HHJ Havelock-Allan, QC in which the court considered the extent of the duties owed by a bank to its customers when providing information about fixed interest rate loans.

Wanstall v Clydesdale Bank (2016)

Acting for Claimant farm partnership in claim against bank for negligent advice and information in selling fixed rate business loans.

Professional Negligence

James acts for claimants in professional negligence claims against a wide variety of professionals, including accountants, solicitors, barristers and surveyors.


Solicitors’ Negligence

Mewse & Others v Deansgate 123 LLP

Claims by survivors of sexual abuse in a school against former solicitors for advice to settle at an undervalue.

Rowse v Nalders LLP

Acted recently for claimant in claim for negligent advice as to jurisdiction and powers of Financial Ombudsman and need to bring court proceedings.

Pearson v Georgiou and Others

Failing to advise client adequately as to entries on planning register, leading to purchase of property blighted by proposed development.

Financial advice

Peryer v Arbuthnot Latham

One of a series of cases where James acted for individual claimants in claims against their financial advisers for the mis-selling of financial products, causing losses arising out of the financial difficulties of AIG during the crash of September 2008.

Thomas v Triodos Bank NV

Successfully acted for Claimant farming business in claim for breach of contract and misrepresentations in selling of fixed rate bank loans by bank.

Wanstall v Clydesdale Bank

Represented claimant farm partnership in claim against bank for negligent advice and information in selling fixed rate business loans.

Sports Law

James Counsell specialises in appearing before a wide range of disciplinary tribunals.  Over the years, he has developed a busy and successful practice in defending and prosecuting across a wide range of professional disciplinary tribunals.  His considerable experience in the medical and legal field, defending and prosecuting doctors, solicitors and barristers, often in high profile cases, has provided him with the opportunity and skills to develop his practice into sports law.

He recently acted for the Bar Standards Board in a high profile case (name of respondent withheld) arising out of BHA disciplinary proceedings against a jockey and trainer.

Outside the disciplinary field, James has significant expertise in claims alleging failures to safeguard and for breach of their duty of care by sporting organisations. Amongst his current cases:

  • He is currently representing the survivors of abuse committed by Barry Bennell in multiple claims against Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra;
  • He is also acting for survivors in claims of abuse by Frank Roper against Blackpool Football Club;
  • Further, he is counsel instructed in a series of high profile claims against Chelsea FC by claimants who were allegedly abused, physically and racially, by a former coach and international player;

These High Court claims are all ongoing.  James’s expertise in safeguarding claims has led him to act for claimants in very many historical sex abuse claims against, amongst others, religious organisations, schools, the scouts, together, as mentioned above, with football clubs and other sporting bodies.

He accepts instructions on a Direct Access basis in appropriate cases.

Appointments & Memberships

  • Consultant Editor, Halsbury Laws, Vols 74 and 74A – Medical Professions
  • Advocacy trainer for the Academy of Law, Dubai

Membership of

  • APIL
  • ARDL
  • Bristol Medico Legal Society
  • PIBA
  • PNBA
  • Dubai International Finance Centre Courts
  • Western Circuit

James Counsell QC is regulated by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) and holds a current practising certificate. If you are not satisfied with the service provided, please click here.

Areas of Law




“Terrific at cross-examination – you want to be on his side, not on the receiving end.” Financial Services Regulations, Legal 500 2020

“His forensic attention to detail leaves no stone unturned.” Personal Injury, Industrial Disease and Insurance Fraud, Legal 500 2020

A self-possessed and imperturbable silk.” Professional Disciplinary and Regulatory, Legal 500 2020

“He’s an extremely pragmatic fighter and is very good with strategy. He is excellent on his feet in court and can change a case through his cross-examinations.” Clinical Negligence, Chambers & Partners 2020

“A leader in his field, who has a calm and unflappable approach.”
Professional Discipline, Chambers & Partners 2020

“Cool, calm and collected.” “He’s really excellent to work with. You know you are in good hands. He does it all beautifully.” Professional Discipline, Chambers & Partners 2019

“A very charming advocate.” “Very dedicated.” Clinical Negligence, Chambers & Partners 2019

“His main strengths are his approach to clients and his positive outlook on cases.” Personal Injury, Legal 500 2019

“All round, he is always available and helpful; his cross-examination is a considerable strength.” Financial Services, Legal 500 2019

“Highly recommended for banking litigation work.” Banking & Finance, Legal 500 2019

“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



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