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James Counsell QC and Ben Bradley appear in the High Court in sexual abuse claim against Manchester City FC

James Counsell QC and Ben Bradley represent eight victims in the High Court, seeking damages from Manchester City FC after suffering sexual abuse from one of the country’s most prolific sex offenders.

James and Ben represent eight claimants who were subjected to sexual abuse by Barry Bennell whilst they were playing for Manchester City FC junior or ‘feeder teams’. These teams were set up by the Defendant, Manchester City FC, for the purpose of seeking to recruit a steady source of highly talented young footballers who were then of an age (under 14) when they could not be formally signed up to schoolboy contracts. 

James told the Court that Barry Bennell was recruited by the Defendant to scout promising young footballers for the club’s commercial benefit and that Manchester City FC is vicariously liable for the abuse perpetrated by Bennell.

The Claimants were subjected to very serious sexual abuse by Barry Bennell over the course of a number of years, resulting in serious “life-changing” psychiatric injuries which have continued to affect them throughout their adult lives.  They claim damages for those injuries and for the consequential losses which have flowed from them.

One of the leading authorities is DSN v Blackpool Football Club Limited [2021] EWCA Civ 1352.  James and Ben were instructed in DSN by Bolt Burdon Kemp for the Respondent at the appeal. Read more about this case here.

James told Mr Justice Johnson, the trial judge, that Manchester City FC exercised far more control over Bennell than the ‘vestigial degree of control’ identified in DSN as being required to establish vicarious liability and that Manchester City FC created the ‘enterprise risk’ in appointing him to his role.  The abuse only occurred as a direct result of Barry Bennell undertaking the very tasks which had been assigned to him by Manchester City FC. 

James and Ben are instructed by Bolt Burdon Kemp for the claimants. The case is likely to last for eight weeks.

To find out more about the earlier stages of this case please read our earlier article here;
James Counsell QC and Ben Bradley secure first victory in Manchester City FC Child Abuse Litigation.


You can read the BBC news article on the trial here and the Daily Mail article here.

Find out more

James Counsell QC specialises in acting for victims of non-recent sexual abuse, having recently acted as lead counsel in two successful claims 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. He has been invited to speak and publish papers on this topic.

Ben Bradley is a leading personal injury and clinical negligence junior who regularly acts for victims of non-recent child abuse; appearing with James in a number of the cases referred to above. He specialises in cases where individuals have suffered life-changing injuries.

To find out more, contact Graham Woods on +44 (0)20 7427 4902 or Paul Barton on +44 (0)207 427 4907 for a confidential discussion on James and Ben’s work in this specialist area of personal injury law.

News, Personal Injury, Sports 25 Oct, 2021


James Counsell KC

Call: 1984 Silk: 2017

Ben Bradley

Call: 2007

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