James Counsell QC
Year of Call:
James Counsell QC, one of Outer Temple Chambers’ heads of chambers, responsible for governance, is widely recognised in the fields of Clinical and Professional Negligence and 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 second successful claim against the Jehovah’s Witness organisation and the first of a series of cases against professional football clubs. He currently represents numerous claimants not only in cases against football clubs but also 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, both in the UK and the Middle East.
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 the BSB in a number of recent high profile cases against well-known barristers, including proceedings against Constance Briscoe, Shaun Wallace, Damian McCarthy and Howard Godfrey, QC.
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.
He acted for a successful claimant in the first successful historic sex abuse case against the Jehovah’s Witness organisation and has, very recently, been successful in a second claim against that organisation. In three months at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, he has represented three survivors of historical sexual abuse in contested High Court trials, the first against the Jehovah’s witnesses, the second against Blackpool football club and the third against a girls’ boarding school (all reported).
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.
Successful claim for claimant who suffered psychiatric injuries as a result of rape by elder of Barry congregation when aged 29. Important case on vicarious liability (liability for trespass by elder of congregation, who was also a friend of claimant), limitation (claim brought 24 years out of time) and also on costs (failure of defendant to engage in settlement leading to indemnity costs order). Trial before Chamberlain J over 5 days in November and December 2019. The news item for this case can be read here.
In the first of many anticipated cases arising out of abuse of young footballers, James successfully represented the claimant in the first of these claims, for injuries suffered by survivor of sexual abuse, when aged 13, for abuse committed by football scout, Frank Roper, working for football club on football tour to New Zealand in 1987 before Griffiths J in January 2020. Issues: vicarious liability – connection between scout and football when scout not an employee, limitation – whether club prejudiced by death of abuser and youth coach and delay of 22 years and costs – another important costs decision in this area: defence was criticised for (1) failing to concede issue of abuse when no evidence to contrary and for failing to engage in settlement discussions on basis confident would win. The news item for this case can be read here. The article James wrote on the case for PSL can be read here. James also wrote a review of DSN v Blackpool FC and its implications for sexual abuse claims in English football for LawInSport. This article can be read here.
EXE v Governors of the Royal Naval School  EWHC 596
Represented claimant in claim for damages arising out of alleged sexual abuse by school porter whilst working for girls boarding school in 1980. Besides issues of vicarious liability, limitation and causation, consent was also at issue and the claim alleged negligence for failing to vet an prospective employee to discover serious of criminal convictions. Tried by Griffiths J in February 2020.
A v The Trustees of the Watchtower Bible Tract Society and Others  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.
Appointments & Memberships
- Consultant Editor, Halsbury Laws, Vols 74 and 74A – Medical Professions
- Advocacy trainer for the Academy of Law, Dubai
- Civil Practitioner Representative on the Western Circuit Committee
- Bristol Medico Legal Society
- 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
- Clinical Negligence
- Disciplinary & Regulatory
- Financial Services
- Sports Law
- Personal Injury
- Child & Adult Abuse
- International Injury & Travel
- Professional Negligence
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