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James Counsell KC and Ben Bradley appear in Supreme Court in Jehovah’s Witnesses adult sexual abuse case

Earlier this week, James Counsell KC and Ben Bradley appeared on behalf of BXB in the Supreme Court in Trustees of the Barry Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses v BXB.

Having previously won at trial, and subsequently in the Court of Appeal, James and Ben represented BXB at the Supreme Court in her claim that the Trustees of the Barry Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses are vicariously liable for a rape committed on her by Mark Sewell, one of the Elders of the Congregation.

This case represents the return of vicarious liability to the Supreme Court for the first time since the seminal cases of Barclays Bank and Morrisons. Over the course of the two-day hearing, James made submissions to the Court with respect to both Stage One and Stage Two of the test for vicarious liability.

In respect of Stage One, James told the panel of five Justices that the lower courts had been correct to find that an Elder of the Congregation was in a ‘relationship akin to employment’.

In respect of Stage Two, James told the court that the risks associated with conferring on an individual the status of Elder were such that the lower courts had been correct to find a sufficiently close connection between Mark Sewell’s role as an Elder and the tort that he committed.

James and Ben were instructed by Thomas Beale, a Partner at Bolt Burdon Kemp Solicitors.

Judgment has been reserved.

Watch the Supreme Court hearing

Watch James and Ben in action via the recordings on the Supreme Court website.

The earlier Court of Appeal judgment in Barry Congregation v BXB is available here.

Find out more

James Counsell QC and Ben Bradley are regularly instructed (often together) on large, novel and high profile non-recent sexual abuse claims. They were recently instructed in a number of high-profile cases against Premiership and other professional football clubs and have also acted against other religious organisations, schools, the scouts and other sporting bodies. 

Further details of their respective practices can be obtained from their clerks, Graham Woods and Paul Barton.

News 17 Feb, 2023


James Counsell KC

Call: 1984 Silk: 2017

Ben Bradley

Call: 2007

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