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DAC Beachcroft LLP’s defendant personal injury practice acts for a wealth of insurers, including Zurich Insurance, Allianz Insurance and AXA Insurance, as well as corporate clients such as Wm Morrison Supermarkets. The practice in Leeds is jointly headed by catastrophic injury specialists Ruth Winterbottom and Owen Rees, who both have substantial track records in heavyweight cases involving brain injury, spinal injury and amputations. In a highlight matter for 2016, David Williams represented Zurich Insurance in its successful appeal to the Supreme Court, which found that the claimant had misrepresented the size of the claim and thus induced the original settlement, which could be reopened on the discovery of evidence of fraud. Other key figures include Vicki Hilton, whose clinical negligence background makes her a natural choice for matters involving serious brain injuries; William Potts, who regularly handles high-value occupational cancer claims and claims involving asbestos-related diseases; and Andrew Scott.

DWF attracts praise for providing advice that is ‘always of the highest standard; the practice always comes up with a plan to resolve the claim at the earliest possible time when liability is not in dispute and where it is in dispute, it provides a thoughtful and creative plan to prepare the file for trial’. Glyn Jones (who is noted for his ‘great ability to cut through the important issues and save time and costs’) heads the defendant personal injury practice, which includes a six-partner team focused on catastrophic injury claims, as well as teams dedicated to occupational health diseases (particularly deafness), motor claims, costs issues and insurance fraud. Clients include major insurers such as Aviva and Allianz Insurance, employers and government bodies such as the Department for Transport. Recent matters include successfully defending a mesothelioma claim made by a former employee of the client, and acting for Markerstudy in the successful dismissal of personal injury claims that were found to be fundamentally dishonest. Other key figures include Lisa Collins, who is noted for her ‘great rapport with clients’, David Rogers, who is ‘thorough in his approach and is always readily available to talk through any issues’, and insurance fraud specialist Paul Holmes.

Kennedys significantly strengthened its already highly regarded personal injury practice with the recruitment in 2017 of partners Alan Dury, Suzanne Wilkinson and Paul Bedford, who joined along with their casualty team from Hill Dickinson LLP. They join a team in Sheffield that attracts praise for its ‘excellent level of service; deadlines are met, expectations are managed, and advice is practical, commercial and proportionate’. The Sheffield office has the depth of resources to handle the full range of personal injury matters for major insurers, corporate clients and a number of national retailers. Clients single it out as a ‘market leader’ in motor claims; its motor team, headed by Niall Edwards (‘among the top lawyers in the country for defending credit hire claims’), defends its clients in an array of motor and fleet-related claims, with an emphasis on complex and high-value road traffic accident injury disputes. Also recommended are practice head Suzanne Liversidge (who ‘takes time to build relationships and provides strategic support to clients’), Tom Holbrook, who represents insurers and police forces in employers’ and public liability claims, and Gregor Woods and senior associate Laura Siddall, who are noted for their ‘good all-round understanding of the law and willingness to go the extra distance for clients’.

Plexus Law’s practice is headed by Anthony Baker, who splits his time between Manchester and Leeds and has more than 20 years’ experience acting for insurers in personal injury disputes spanning sectors such as construction, retail and financial services. Baker is ably assisted by Alison Beesley, who heads the large-scale occupational disease team, Simon Hills, who has an extensive track record in providing support on local government issues, and Stephen Johnson, who is noted for his work for local authorities on employers’ and public liability claims. In an illustration of the practice’s track record in catastrophic loss cases, Paul Whitfield acted in a claim brought by a yard foreman alleging that a forklift truck was negligently driven into him, resulting in serious injury; in a second application, the firm succeeded in agreeing a ‘drop hands’ discontinuance with the claimant. In another key mandate, Baker acted for Balfour Beatty Living Places in a case involving a fatal road traffic accident in which the firm’s management of the case avoided any potential civil claims.

BLM’s ‘technically proficient’ personal injury practice in Leeds is headed by Henry Kirkup, who is ‘a hard negotiator and extremely passionate about what he does’. The practice handles a range of personal injury matters on behalf of insurers, including cases involving severe bodily injury, fatalities, spinal injury and stress. Kirkup is acting for a local insurer in a multimillion-pound claim by a motorcyclist injured in a road traffic accident, which involves a claim for loss of accommodation and care as well as loss of earnings. In an illustration of its travel-related personal injury expertise, Arion Jones is acting for the Freedom Travel Group in a multi-party action brought by seven claimants who suffered gastric illness, which involves complex issues of medical causation and quantum and a dispute between two defendants.

CMS merged with Nabarro LLP in 2017, bringing on board the latter firm’s defendant personal injury practice in Sheffield, which attracts praise for its ‘conscientious and thorough preparation of cases’. Practice head Carl Dray is singled out as being ‘pre-eminent in industrial disease litigation’. He leads a team that exclusively acts for large self-insureds and has an extensive track record in group actions, as illustrated by its work for the Department for Business and Industrial Strategy defending a GLO concerning 290 former coke workers suffering from a range of disabilities and injuries, including lung and skin cancer as well as a variety of non-malignant respiratory diseases. Other key mandates included defending The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in a claim brought by a current senior employee for psychological injury. Zoe Cooper, Tim Riordan and Jeremy Fletcher are also recommended.

Forbes Solicitors has a highly active defendant injury practice with a client base drawn from a range of claim-handling organisations, insurers and large self-insureds. Its expertise covers a wide range of personal injury matters, from industrial disease cases to employers’ and public liability, and has a substantial track record handling historic sex abuse and grooming claims. Practice head Siobhan Hardy specialises in public liability and employers’ liability claims and David Pickford heads the firm’s retail-sector practice; clients include Asda Stores, which Pickford acted for in a case involving an employee who fell from the top of a home delivery vehicle. Senior associate Judith Bloor acts for a number of major insurers.

Gordons LLP’s personal injury practice attracts praise for its ‘excellent service, fantastic response times and great knowledge of the client’s business’. Practice head Rachel Hudson (‘an extremely good lawyer with great commercial acumen and a real passion for delivering excellent results’) specialises in defendant personal injury matters related to the retail, distribution and industrial sectors. Other key figures include Lisa Brough, who is noted for retail-sector expertise. In addition to handling personal injury claims, the practice also assists its clients with reviews of their internal processes.

Langleys Solicitors LLP is on the panels of a number of insurers, including NFU Mutual and Brit Global Specialty, and is increasingly called upon to handle claims arising from catastrophic injury. Key work in 2016 included defending a claim brought by a cyclist who suffered an injury when he was unseated from his bicycle due to a depression in the road, causing him to lose control and collide with a wall. David Thompson heads the insurance law practice and is noted for his expertise in coverage and policy indemnity issues. Also recommended are Huw Edwards, who leads on motor claims, and regulatory head Rebecca Howitt, who regularly handles employers’ and public liability cases.

Clients of the personal injury practice at Weightmans single out its diligent approach: ‘every case is fully investigated, researched and advised upon, leading to a formidable success rate’. The firm has strengthened the foothold it established in the region through its merger with Ford & Warren in 2015 by recruiting local government specialist Helen Brown from Langleys Solicitors LLP in November 2016. Practice head Blaise Smith has particular expertise in head and spinal injury claims, regularly handling claims exceeding £3m; his recent work includes defending Ageas in a claim involving a very severe brain injury arising from a road traffic accident, which reached the Court of Appeal over the apportionment of liability between a parked car, an overtaking vehicle and an oncoming motorcyclist. Other key figures in Leeds include Iain Davison, who is ‘held in high regard by his insurer clients, by other solicitors and by the Bar’ and who is a specialist in insurance fraud matters.

BC Legal’s clients rate its ‘specialist understanding of the key issues that impact organisations in the disease arena’, thanks in no small part to joint Leeds office heads Darren Goldthorpe and Gary Brankin, who have ‘operated at a high level in disease claims for many years’. The firm’s specialist focus on occupational disease claims makes it a go-to firm for insurers such as NFU Mutual and Travelers, as well as Lloyds syndicates and uninsured companies. Recent mandates include acting for Resolute Management Services and RSA in a High Court asbestos-related mesothelioma claim with a pleaded value of £1.8m.

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