Firms To Watch: Personal injury and clinical negligence: claimant

A new presence in Newcastle, the serious injury team at Slater and Gordon  is made up of experienced new hires: John Davis who joined from Sintons LLP in April 2021, senior associate Kate Nicklin who joined from Sintons LLP in March 2021 and senior associate John Lowther, who came from Smith & Graham in January 2022.

Personal injury and clinical negligence: claimant in North

Armstrong Foulkes LLP

With its sole focus on claimant clinical negligence, Middlesbrough-based firm Armstrong Foulkes LLP provides ‘excellent service from start to finish’. The team supports clients with a wide variety of claims including surgical complications, birth complications, medical misdiagnosis, incorrect prescriptions or breaches of duty in care homes. The firm’s four key practitioners jointly lead the team: Managing partner Hilton Armstrong; who contributes his extensive experience when consulting on cases, Joanne Davies; whom clients find ‘very professional and extremely efficient’; Ashleigh Holt, who leads a number of high-value cases, and Kathryn Watson, ‘a very safe pair of hands’.

Practice head(s):

Hilton Armstrong; Joanne Davies; Ashleigh Holt; Kathryn Watson


‘Excellent client care, a lot of attention to detail which gets great results for clients, compared to many other firms. There is a lot of experience here.’

‘Kathryn Watson- lovely, warm manner which is great for building rapport with clients. Kathryn is a very safe pair of hands. Joanne Davies-very experienced, passionate about what she does.’

‘Hilton Armstrong is a very experienced clinical negligence specialist who has many years of experience in running complex cases. He has passed on his knowledge and experience to Joanne Davies, Ashleigh Holt and Kathryn Watson who all have developed excellent skills in running complex cases of high value. I rate them all very highly.’

Work highlights

  • Pursued a clinical negligence claim for the widower and young daughter of a woman who died from metastatic breast cancer as a result of the failure of the Defendant to refer her to hospital.
  • Brought a clinical negligence claim for a girl who underwent inappropriate hip surgery as a child which has resulted in continuing pain, limited mobility and need for repeated surgeries.
  • Pursuing clinical negligence claim for gentleman who suffered an avoidable stroke as a result of his GP’s negligence. Liability is admitted and quantum investigations are ongoing.


The practice at Burnetts focuses on high value clinical negligence matters as well as serious personal injury cases such as brain and spinal injuries. In the Newcastle office brain injury specialist Paul Brown, who joined the partner ranks in January 2022, covers the personal injury side, while Michelle Armstrong handles clinical negligence with particular expertise in birth injuries and obstetrics. Practice head Spencer Knaggs in Carlisle acts on an array of personal injury cases while in the Cockermouth office, senior associates Lynne Hall and Jayne McCluskey handle clinical negligence with the former specialised in delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of cancers.

Practice head(s):

Spencer Knaggs

Other key lawyers:

Paul Brown; Michelle Armstrong; Lynne Hall; Jayne McCluskey


‘Lynne Hall and Jayne McCluskey – both hard-working, sensible and great to work with.’

‘Michelle Armstrong: very strong medical knowledge from back ground in midwifery combined with tenacity as a litigator. Particular strength is compassionate and patient handling of sensitive clients.’

‘Worked with a senior member of the medical negligence team. The exchange was efficient a complex case settled fast. The negligence lawyer was very approachable and immediately understood a highly complex case. It was a pleasure to work with Burnetts.’

Work highlights

  • Settled a liability claim for a client in a closely contested road traffic claim. The liability settlement was 60/40 in the clients favour in a claim with a full value of over £19m. The Claimant was a driver of a vehicle which had been involved in a collision in roadworks on a motorway at night and was unlicensed, uninsured and twice over the limit in terms of alcohol at time of collision. The Defendant vehicle collided with the Claimants vehicle and as a result the Claimant sustained a serious brain injury.
  • Secured judgment on liability for the claimant in a serious spinal injury case. Although quantum has to be determined, it is currently valued at £13,000,000.
  • Representing client in a birth brain injury claim which, has been running for many years under two previous firms of solicitors. The defendant was vigorously defending the claim on the basis that, despite being born in very poor condition, the client did not have a brain injury, his only diagnosis being Autism. Through the use of a team of highly specialist experts secured expert evidence confirming that the client did suffer a hypoxic brain injury at the time of his birth. The Defendant indicated that they wish to settle the claim in advance of a trial which is listed for September 2022.

Hay & Kilner

Hay & Kilner’s Newcastle-based clinical, medical and dental negligence team is ‘well known for handling complex claims’, ranging from brain injury and cerebral palsy to amputation cases. Practice head Clare Thompson draws on deep experience and is known for her expertise in birth-related claims. David Bradshaw focuses on acquired brain injury and complex spinal injury claims, going ‘above and beyond’ for his clients, while Helen Morland is described as ‘compassionate and highly competent’. Both solicitor Lauren Hall and associate Sophie Moss lead matters, playing a key role in the team.

Practice head(s):

Clare Thompson

Other key lawyers:

David Bradshaw; Helen Morland; Lauren Hall; Sophie Moss


‘Highly respected Newcastle firm with well established clinical negligence department carrying out a large amount of high quality cases.’

‘David Bradshaw: hugely experienced practitioner dealing with the most complex cases. Clare Thompson: highly intelligent and tough litigator. Helen Morland: compassionate and highly competent claimant lawyer. Sophie Moss: enthusiastic, intelligent and competent solicitor.’

‘Hay & Kilner are an excellent claimant firm in the north. Their cases are well prepared and I would not hesitate to recommend them.’

Irwin Mitchell

Irwin Mitchell’s team covers an array of complex and high-volume claims, notwithstanding some changes on the senior level. Francesca Mayes continues to lead the serious injury subgroup, which has grown and gained a new partner with the promotion of Jane Pyrah in May 2021. Senior associate Laura Mcilduff is ‘tenacious and brilliant’. With Angela Kirtley ’s departure to Ward Hadaway LLP in August 2021, Sarah Coles now heads the medical negligence practice from both Leeds and Newcastle, supported by senior associate Samuel Hill and several new associate hires. Taking the place of Roger Maddocks, who retired in April 2022, as head of workplace injury is Ian Toft who moved from Leeds to Newcastle.

Practice head(s):

Francesca Mayes; Sarah Coles; Ian Toft

Other key lawyers:

Jane Pyrah; Samuel Hill; Laura McIlduff


‘The team at Irwin Mitchell are friendly, professional and supportive. Being able to contact them 24/7 provided reassurance for myself. I was assigned one solicitor for my case who I had throughout the whole 5 years, this allowed the process to run smoothly and for myself to feel guided by someone who knew all the details of my case. Every interaction I had with the team was pleasant and informative, they provided me with all the necessary information throughout the case without overwhelming me. Irwin Mitchell made me feel like my case was not about money or fees for them, but rather justice for the client.’

‘Of particular note are the managing partner, Fran Mayes, who has a huge amount of experience and knowledge and an up and coming star, Laura Mcllduff, who is tenacious and brilliant.’

‘Got a young team of excellent lawyers. They are very switched on, work hard and get excellent results. Good with clients, positive and proactive.’

‘Laura McIlduff – fabulous with difficult clients, hard working and extremely tenacious. Rebecca Maddock – committed, efficient and effective.’

‘Francesca Mayes – Partner at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office. Fran’s client care is outstanding, she understands client’s needs and ensures this is considered in the advice and services she provides. Not only is Fran very proactive and knowledgeable, but she is also calm under pressure and great to work with. The litigation process can be a difficult time for clients, especially those who have suffered injury. Fran, and her team, take the time to develop excellent relationships with clients and support them through the litigation process. Fran has built a great team around her at the Newcastle office.’

‘Their dedication to their injured clients shines through in everything they do and their pragmatic and collaborative approach to claims helps to ensure their clients get the right result.’

‘Jane Pyrah (PI – Newcastle) – completely dedicated to fighting for the best results for clients. Very well respected by all. Sarah Coles (Team Leader – Newcastle) – accomplished lawyer and wonderful mentor / leader to the team.’

‘A wonderful team with strength in depth from partner to paralegal and a dedication to their clients, consistently going above and beyond to get the best results possible. Head and shoulders above the rest for serious injury litigation in the north east.’

Work highlights

  • Medical negligence claim against the Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust. Negligent hernia repair surgery resulting in a stoma and permanent TPN causing loss of employment, need for care and impact on life expectancy.
  • Medical negligence claim – Delay in diagnosis and treatment of a subarachnoid haemorrhage resulting in a brain injury.
  • Settled a road traffic accident claim where the Claimant sustained a spinal injury for £11.5m

Sintons LLP

The Newcastle-based practice at Sintons LLP focuses on personal injury claims, drawing on its practitioners’ specialist expertise. ‘Exceptional solicitor’ Phil Davison heads up the general personal injury practice which includes cases of polytrauma and amputations while ‘very experiencedAndrew McGowan leads the neurotrauma team. Mark Quigley is at the helm of the claimant personal injury department, he is ‘tenacious and meticulous’. Following John Davis’ departure to Slater and Gordon in February 2021, senior associate Alistair Elliot joined the team from Irwin Mitchell in June 2021, bolstering the neurotrauma team.

Practice head(s):

Mark Quigley; Andrew McGowan; Phil Davison

Other key lawyers:

Kate Oliver; David Knipe; Alistair Elliot


‘This firm is able to take an aggressive approach to litigation whilst treating their clients with care and dignity. They do not rush their clients into making decisions, instead they always take time to explain the legal process and to ensure that their clients understand what is happening in their case. This can be especially difficult as they work with a large percentage of clients who have cognitive impairment due to brain injury. This firm works well with clinical colleagues with multidisciplinary teams, always integrating with and listening to the team rather than trying to direct it.’

‘I cannot speak highly enough of Andrew McGowan, Head of Neurotrauma, and Alastair Elliot, Senior Associate. Both gentlemen are extremely driven and passionate about the work they do and about achieving the best possible outcome for their clients. They approach clients with compassion, empathy and understanding, always being client-centred. They approach colleagues with respect. They exude warmth whilst maintaining their professionalism which makes those they work for, and with, feel very much at ease rather than intimidated.’

‘The team is lead by Phil Davison who is vastly experienced and able. He is superb with all clients and easy to deal with. He is personable, respected (and feared) by opponents. The whole team know their law and always go the extra miles for their client.’

‘Alastair Elliot – senior associate – very experienced and capable. Puts his clients at ease and manages to squeeze every last drop out of a case.’

‘Sintons has a very strong and experienced team of serious injury lawyers and have recently added to the team with recruits from Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office. They have a specific focus on rehabilitation and setting up MDTs to support clients in their road to recovery.’

‘This is probably one of the most experienced PI teams in the North East and is considered by all to be gold standard. There is a breadth and depth of legal and medical knowledge that means that they can deal with all cases well and successfully.’

‘Mark Quigley has a very calm manner and is tenacious and meticulous with his cases. He has realistic expectations of his cases and is very good at managing expectations and getting the most out of a case by careful and thorough preparation.’

‘David Knipe – willing to back the underdog and cares about clients.’

Work highlights

  • Represented a pedestrian who sustained aureus lower limb injuries when he was struck by a car which mounted a pavement. A substantial amount of treatment and rehabilitation was required. Ongoing symptoms lead to lower limb amputation on an elective basis.
  • Represented a pedestrian involved serious road traffic accident resulting in traumatic brain injury necessitating care and support on a permanent basis, the exact nature of which was challenged by the defendant.
  • Represented the victim of a hit and run road traffic accident, a cyclist who sustained serious orthopaedic, neurological and psychological injuries. The identity of the driver was subsequently traced and primary liability admitted. Allegations of contributory negligence were successfully resisted.

Thompsons Solicitors LLP

With a broad and varied practice encompassing personal injury, accident and industrial disease cases as well as clinical negligence matters, Thompsons Solicitors LLP provides ‘first class service for claimants’. Senior solicitor Fiona Belgian heads up the team; she specializes in clinical negligence, as does recently promoted partner Clair Wilson, who has secured several high value settlements. Asbestos experts Tony Hood and Andrew Venn are key members of the team with experience in complex test cases.

Practice head(s):

Fiona Belgian

Other key lawyers:

Trevor Hall; Tony Hood; Andrew Venn; Clair Wilson


‘Far and away the best union firm nationally, with a real desire to help clients.’

‘Trevor Hall has a very down to earth style that clients really appreciate while being technically extremely able. He’s a very safe pair of hands on serious injury and military work.’

‘Very extensive experience and very extensive resources. First class service for claimants.’

Beecham Peacock

With a presence in Newcastle, Beecham Peacock covers both clinical negligence and personal injury cases. Building on its longstanding relationships with unions and the TUC Asbestos Group, the practice regularly handles workplace accidents or asbestos exposure-related claims. Practice head Victoria Wanless is ‘capable and experienced’, with a special interest in occupational disease cases.

Practice head(s):

Victoria Wanless


‘The practice has a notable individual in Victoria Wanless. Very experienced and capable disease practitioner.’

‘Victoria Wanless is thorough and diligent.’

Key clients




Work highlights

  • Acted for the daughter of a deceased Mesothelioma victim who worked for the Defendants. Liability disputed throughout. The case was heard remotely (due to Covid) at the Royal Court of Justice over 3 days. Victory for the claimant who succeeded on breach of duty and also beat their own Part 36 Offer.
  • Representing in an employers liability case, where claimant’s fingers partially amputated on a saw with no protective blade. The claimant was turned down following denial of liability from previous firm.

Browell Smith & Co Solicitors Ltd

With ‘hugely experienced and thorough‘ practitioner Dawn Bagley and senior director Philip Browell at the helm, Browell Smith & Co Solicitors Ltd lawyers in Newcastle and Annitsford ‘fearlessly represent their client’s best interests‘. The team covers clinical negligence as well as personal injury matters, the latter including industrial disease cases, road traffic and workplace accidents. John Muxworthy, double qualified as a costs lawyer is also a key practitioners for the team.

Practice head(s):

Dawn Bagley; Philip Browell

Other key lawyers:

John Muxworthy; Lindsey Henderson


‘Dawn Bagley leads a superb team at Browells. She is experienced, has great client care skills and is respected and indeed feared by opponents.’

‘Dawn goes the extra mile for every client, no matter how difficult or complex the case is. She is experienced in all aspects of Clinical Negligence and PI, including Inquests and internal NHS processes. She knows her law and always knows her case inside out.’

‘Personalised service. Prompt response to enquiries. Keep client up to date with progress at all times.’

‘Excellent and well established PI and clinical negligence firm in the North East.’

‘Dawn Bagley: partner in charge of clin neg , very experienced in catastrophic cases. Lindsey Henderson: newly arrived from Irwin Mitchell; many years of experience and highly respected claimant solicitor dealing with cases of high value and complexity.’

‘Dawn Bagley has a vast experience of claimant clinical negligence work but perhaps her greatest asset is her open humanity. She has a great rapport with clients and makes them feel at ease in what are trying circumstances.’

‘The team is one of the foremost in the North East dealing with personal injury claims. I have worked with them for 30 years now and have found their approach to be detailed and thorough on behalf of claimants. They have extensive background knowledge of local industries and potential problems that is particularly valuable to clamants.’

‘Dawn Bagley heads the team. She is hugely experienced and thorough in her work. John Muxworthy is another member of the team with whom I work and for whom I have a high regard.’

True Solicitors LLP

The specialist teams at ‘first rate’ firm True Solicitors LLP handle serious injury claims, road traffic accidents, clinical negligence as well as employers’ and public liability claims. At the helm of the Newcastle practice are Andrew Mayall and Stephen McCourt. Karen Hindmarch is a key partner and associate solicitor Michael Laffey stands out with ‘real determination and enthusiasm for his clients’.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Mayall; Stephen McCourt

Other key lawyers:

Karen Hindmarch; Michael Laffey; Helen Wainwright


‘The True team handle high value and complex PI and clinical negligence work with dedication and with passion. They care about their client and they explain complex issues in clear language. They are a first rate firm.’

‘True Solicitors have a fantastic reputation in the North East, and beyond. Led by Kieran Magee, they are a forward thinking firm, who have their client’s best interests at heart at all times. They are a pleasure to work with.’

‘Big and well-known firm (formerly Gorman Hamilton) handling claimant personal injury work of all sorts and values.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for a client who suffered a traumatic amputation of their thumb in an accident at work. Arranged for the provision of 2 separate prosthetic thumbs; one for everyday use and one for sports. Damages of over £200,000 agreed.
  • Acting on behalf of a child who allegedly suffered a negligent delay in diagnosis of a tumour.
  • Acting on behalf of a child who suffered a brain injury in a car accident.  Arranged long-term intensive multi-disciplinary rehabilitation.

Winn Solicitors

With experienced practitioner David Dewar leading, the practice at Winn Solicitors supports clients with various personal injury claims, functioning as a one-stop-shop for claimants, who also receive support in arranging medical treatment or replacing damaged vehicles. Adam Thorpe, who heads up the litigation team, takes on a strategic lead in personal injury appeals, while solicitor Naveen Sandhu supervises the employer liability and public liability practice. David Burn moved to Keoghs LLP in November 2021.

Practice head(s):

David Dewar

Other key lawyers:

Adam Thorpe; Naveen Sandhu; Catherine Walker


‘Winns solicitors have been very informative throughout my case offering every help thats available i.e counseling team medical team and help with returning to work, very pleased overall.’

‘My appointed solicitor from winns constantly keeps in contact keeping me well informed on the progress of the case and keeping my case information up to date.’

‘The team are very “on the ball” with technology and appear to work largely paperlessly. They are very strong on systems and process.’

Work highlights

  • Represented a Claimant in a personal injury damages claim involving life changing injuries including transfemoral amputation, multiple orthopaedic injuries, severe scarring and psychological injuries arising from a road traffic accident.