Personal injury: defender in Scotland
Brodies LLP’s ‘reliable and incredibly professional’ team advises many of Scotland’s biggest insurers on the defence of both personal injury and medical negligence claims. The medical negligence practice, led by Duncan Mawby , handles complex claims in areas such as GP negligence, deaths in custody, and medical device implantation. Claims against optometrists are a particular specialism. The personal injury team is particularly active in cases relating to the shipping industry. The arrival of Carly Forrest from BTO Solicitors LLP has further strengthened the group, which is overseen by ‘excellent leader’ Elena Fry. Experienced solicitor advocate Laura McMillan handles both personal injury and medical negligence matters.
‘Defence marine personal injury is very specialised, and this firm is one of the few firms in Scotland knowledgeable in this area. They are also very helpful to respond to queries and efficient at keeping us advised of case developments.’
‘They really take the time to understand their client’s culture and, just as importantly, adapt to when this changes. Special mention to Elena Fry and Kate Donachie for their approach and their outstanding case and client management abilities.’
‘Brodies are a tier one Scottish firm. They have a focus on the local market which has been lost by some of the UK national firms. They have excellent expertise in all areas of law.‘
‘Elena Fry is one of the best solicitors in the market. She is an excellent leader of her unit, and never lets you down on a case. She has a very commanding presence in the market.’
‘Kate Donachie is dependable and commercial in her approach towards resolving litigation.’
Babcock International Group
City Refrigeration Holdings
Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service
Scottish Power Ltd
National Express Group
Enstar/Starstone Underwriting Limited
Sunderland Marine Insurance
North of England P&I Club
Standard P&I Club
Gard P&I Club
Steamship P&I Club
Skuld P&I Club
Anasuria Operating Company
Somerset Bridge Ltd (formerly Eldon Insurance)
- Advised on matters arising from the loss of the fishing vessel, Nancy Glen, and the lives of two of her crew.
- Advised in relation to a fatal man overboard incident from a fishing vessel on the remote Western Isles.
- Investigated and defended personal injury claims brought against the two most substantial ferry operators in Scotland.
BTO Solicitors LLP
BTO Solicitors LLP’s personal injury and clinical defence practices have ‘unrivalled expertise in the Scottish market’. The firm is the largest independent Scottish practice in the PIy defender market and has been appointed to the panels of all major insurers in the sector. Led by Stephen Bryceland, the personal injury team advises on RTAs, industrial diseases and employers' liability issues. The medical negligence group ‘has an enviable reputation for defending healthcare professionals in the Scottish courts’. Solicitor advocates Laura Donald and Douglas Jessiman are both highly experienced in representing doctors in Fatal Accident Inquiries.
‘The insurance team of this unique independent and long-established firm are all professional and capable, yet approachable, individuals. Clients can rest assured that work placed with the team is in safe hands.’
AIG General Insurance
NFU Mutual Insurance Society Limited
CHUBB European Group Limited
UK General Insurance
- Defended a £1,5m mesothelioma case, involving the first case in Scotland to include cost of immunotherapy treatment
- Acted for NFU Mutual in a £3.9m amputation case at minimal value pre-litigation.
- Represented AIG in unlitigated claim involving serious head/brain injury suffered by employee of paper mill, resulting in a lack of capacity. Assisted with the HSE investigation into the incident.
With offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, Clyde & Co LLP 's Scottish practice has ‘unparalleled breadth and depth of experience’; the team’s expertise spans all types of defendant medical negligence and personal injury cases. Scotland managing partner Vikki Melville leads the personal injury group which advises almost all of the region’s largest insurers on a broad range of complex work and is particularly noteworthy for its historic abuse practice. Tanya Gordon is highly regarded for her 'fantastic understanding of how to achieve her clients' objectives'. The clinical negligence group, led by Graeme Watson, is among the largest in Scotland and is instructed by a number of medical defence unions in addition to major corporations. Claims relating to defective medical equipment is an area of recent focus.
‘The stand-out defender team in Scotland. Vast experience and breadth of knowledge.’
‘Vikki Melville is a class act.’
‘Bruce Goodbrand is highly experienced in the field. He is pragmatic, knowledgeable and client-focused. He is clearly valued and well-liked by insurers and commercial clients. A pleasure to work with.’
‘An excellent, leading firm with a fantastic and well-deserved reputation for servicing the needs of insurance and public sector clients. The PI team has an enviable reputation and impressive client base..’
‘Tanya Gordon could not be better organised; she has a fantastic understanding of how to achieve her clients’ objectives.’
‘The team is made up of very able individuals who understand defender insurance litigation and practise it to great effect within the Scottish courts. They are unsurpassed in that regard.‘
‘Tanya Gordon is very knowledgeable and secures settlements at the correct amount in a timely manner. She is proactive, not reactive, and has an abundance of technical knowledge. She interacts well with customers and is able to explain in plain English the issues in the claim.’
- Represented QBE and its insured in a Court of Session action where the pursuer was claiming £900,000 for injuries suffered colliding with a fencepost whilst skiing at a ski slope operated by the defender.
- Advised on a claim whereby the pursuer was injured whilst working offshore as a roustabout for the defenders.
- Defended a claim in which the pursuer claimed to have been exposed to radiation in the workplace which had increased his chance of developing cancer and also suffered a psychiatric injury.
DAC Beachcroft Scotland LLP
Following the recruitment of a five-partner BLM team in 2019, DAC Beachcroft Scotland LLP now has a personal injury offering that is regarded as ‘second to none’ in Scotland. The recruits add to the strong existing offering, led by John Maillie, which acts in high-value litigation relating to all types of claims. Claire Newcombe runs the dedicated counter-fraud team that covers organised fraud, policy fraud and credit hire matters. Rachel Rough, who arrived from BLM along with Iain Buchanan, Gillian Rushbury, Louise Gallagher and Jamie Varney, specialises in catastrophic injury claims relating to brain trauma, amputations, tetraplegia, and paraplegia. Andrew Ireland is another name to note.
‘A dynamic team full of excellent lawyers. They are a hugely experienced team, with a long and impressive track record of defending these types of claims on behalf of their clients. All of the lawyers in this team are knowledgeable, dependable, and dedicated to working in their client’s best interests, whether that involves working towards a negotiated settlement of a claim or the defence of a claim in court.’
‘Iain Buchanan is a very pragmatic solicitor who provides well-researched and thought-out advice to instructing insurers and policyholders. Iain is able to push claims towards settlement and provide updates on the likely value of a claim along the way.’
‘Reliable and incredibly professional. They really take the time to understand their client’s own ethos and culture and align the expectation levels and services accordingly.’
‘Special mention to Louise Gallagher, Gillian Rushbury and Jamie Varney for their approach and their outstanding case and client management abilities.’
AXA Corporate Solutions No
- Advised a local authority in relation to over 100 litigated actions relating to pedestrian and cyclist injuries arising from the Edinburgh Trams.
- Advised a care company and its insurer after a severely mentally disabled lady was immersed in a bath of very hot water causing burns. A significant dispute arose inter alia the recoverability of the cost of the additional care which was being met by the local authority.
- Saved over £5m for insurers having established a claimant had significant behavioural and psychiatric issues which pre-dated the accident in question. Demonstrated that the claimant had lied to Home Office Authorities, medical experts and Social workers in relation to the severity of his injuries.
Anderson Strathern’s primary specialism is advising the Scottish Prison Service in defender personal injury claims and fatal accident inquiries. The team is particularly experienced acting in inquiries into deaths by suicides, unintentional overdoses and natural causes. Jonathan Guy leads the insurance and health and safety unit, which also acts for insurers claims relating to catastrophic injury, fraud and policy coverage. Solicitor advocate Laura McCabe joined the team from Addleshaw Goddard in mid-2019.
Other key lawyers:
‘Anderson Strathern has a proven track record across the whole range of of medical negligence and personal injury (defender) practice. The team is headed by a number of hugely experienced individuals, but the quality of practitioners in the middle and junior ranks is also high.’
The Scottish Government
The Scottish Prison Service
Risk Management Authority
Scottish Midland Co-operative Society
Scottish Children’s Reporter Adminstration
- Defended a claim for damages raised in the Court of Session by a prisoner, who was working out in the prison gym when he was seriously assaulted by a fellow inmate and sustained serious head injuries in a racially motivated attack.
- Represented the Co-operative Insurance in defending personal injury, vehicle damage, fraud and credit hire claims under the value of £25,000 resulting from motor accidents.
- Represented the Scottish Prison Service in a Fatal Accident Inquiry before the Sheriff Principal of Glasgow & Strathkelvin following the murder of prisoner by a fellow prisoner in Barlinnie Prison.
BLM’s ‘fantastic group of experienced litigators’ advise on the defence of all types of complex, high-value claims, including RTAs, brain injuries and mesothelioma matters. The group’s ability to handle high-profile matters is demonstrated by its work on notably significant litigation relating to the Glasgow bin lorry crash of 2014. Key figures in the team include Edinburgh office head Ian Leach and head of disease Andrew Gilmour , who is 'exceptional in occupational disease claims'. The team has undergone significant change in 2019; a five-partner team left to join DAC Beachcroft Scotland LLP, although Rachel Henry rejoined the firm and Kirsty Yuill was promoted to partner.
‘Very attentive, transparent and easy to do business with.’
‘I have dealt with Frank Hughes on some high value and complex cases. He has been outstanding. In particular his patience with difficult clients, and his ability to work with them to obtain good results.’
‘The experience and drive of senior, respected and hard-working partners, particularly Karen Dance and Frank Hughes allows the firm to provide a reliable, high quality service to its clients. Recent appointments of Kirsty Yuill and, more recently, Rachel Henry add strength and expertise in relation to catastrophic injury and major loss cases. The team handles a broad range of complex and high value PI cases on instructions from insurers.’
BAI Claims Services Ltd
Charles Taylor Adjusters
City of Edinburgh Council
Davies Group Ltd
Department for Transport
Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians
John Menzies plc
Mitchells and Butlers
Resolute Management Ltd
Riverstone (AXA LM)
Sabre Insurance Ltd
- Represented Resolute Management Limited in a high value, complex mesothelioma claim.
- Represented Balfour Beatty in a high value hand-arm vibration syndrome occupational disease claim.
- Acted for a defender in two conjoined cases which led to the first ever reported judicial decision on the interaction between conduct and costs in the context of the Scottish Compulsory Pre-Action Protocol.
Rather than receiving claims through insurance panels, Burness Paull LLP provides ‘a personal service’ and is instructed directly from Scottish industry to advise on employer liability, historic abuse and product liability claims. The group is especially active in the marine and energy sectors, representing global shipowners, P&I clubs and oil companies. Following the retirement of Ewan McIntyre, the practice is now led by Andrew Forsyth , who arrived from Brodies LLP in 2019. Senior associates Lynne Moss and Fiona Davidson are other key team members.
‘Andrew Forsyth took the time to visit our office to speak to our claims handlers in order to gain a better insight into the level of service that was expected from his team and provided some training in Scottish legal practices at the same time.’
‘Burness Paull have a very strong litigation team. They are responsive, commercial and skilled.’
Kier Group PLC
SSE PLC/Scotia Gas Networks Limited t/a SGN
Student Loans Company Limited
City of Edinburgh Council
Thomas Miller Claims Management
Smith & Nephew PLC
The Standard Club
- Acted for Subsea 7 and its P&I club, the Standard Club, on a high value personal injury claim following an accident overseas.
- Advised Kier Group on defending their personal injury litigation in Scotland.
- Advised new client Resolute Management Limited on its Scottish asbestos litigation.
Spread across offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness, the ‘dedicated and extremely capable team’ at Harper Macleod LLP advises insurers, public bodies and private individuals on a variety of claims including road traffic accidents, public and occupiers’ liability, many of which involve serious and complex issues such as mesothelioma and wrongful death. Elizabeth Mitchell leads the team and manages the relationship with some of the firm’s largest insurer clients. Suzanne McGarrigle is ‘always willing to go the extra distance’ in assisting with industrial disease claims relating to exposure to asbestos, silica and coal dust.
Other key lawyers:
‘Those with whom I have worked in this team are enthusiastic and driven to find solutions for their clients. They are lawyers with an ability to see the wood from the trees and to quickly identify the real issue or issues in a case. They take a proactive approach to the claims. Whilst being pragmatic, they are also determined, and will take an appropriately firm stance on their client’s behalf; whether in settlement negotiations or in defending claims to the full.‘
‘Suzanne McGarrigle is focused and determined; always willing to go the extra distance to achieve best result for clients.’
Direct Line Group and Direct Line Insurance Services Limited
Forestry and Land Scotland
Acromas Insurance Company Limited
Admiral Insurance / EUI Limited
Fielding a 'settled, capable and experienced' team, Morton Fraser primarily advises government bodies across Scotland on industrial disease matters, wrongful death claims and historic abuse. The group has seen significant developments in 2019, having been appointed to act for the Ministry of Defence for Scotland in all defender personal injury matters, including employers' liability, public liability, and road traffic accident cases. Practice head Jenny Dickson leads on all work for the UK Government and is well-known for her ‘excellent judgement’ in mesothelioma claims.
‘Jenny Dickson is extremely able and has excellent judgement about which cases to potentially fight and which cases to compromise. She is certainly not scared though of fighting cases that should be fought.’
- Acted for the Ministry of Defence in a industrial disease claim in which liability was disputed.
- Acted on behalf of Royal Mail in a catastrophic injury case in which the pursuer sustained a significant brain injury. This case was particularly complex in view of the pursuer’s pre-existing mental health problems.
- Acted for the Scottish Government in a high value employers’ liability claim. This case was particularly complex as the pursuer is unlikely to ever make a full recovery from the injuries he sustained.
The ‘highly dedicated individuals’ at CMS primarily advise clients from the energy, manufacturing and construction industries on complex cases including death in the workplace and industrial disease. The team also handles matters in the technology and life sciences sectors, frequently advising on complex product liability claims. Jan Burgess represents clients at Fatal Accident Inquiries while also managing the health and safety practice. Colin Hutton leads the disputes team across Scotland.
‘They are particularly good in identifying clients’ goals and being proactive in achieving those.’
‘Highly dedicated individuals who are very attentive to client needs.’
Assembly Festival Ltd
Bar Soba Group Ltd
Independent Insurance Company
Lime-Sand Mortar (Southern) Limited
Markel International Insurance Co. Ltd
National Museums Scotland
Sapphire Energy Recovery Ltd
SAS Leisure Ltd
Scottish Agricultural Industries
Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution Limited
Scotia Gas Networks Ltd
Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution PLC
Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission PLC
Tarmac BA Limited
Tarmac Cement and Lime Limited
Tarmac Services Ltd
Tarmac Trading Ltd
UK Coal Mining (now in administration)
- Acted for a leading UK construction company in a high-value employer’s liability claim, appointed to jury trial, where substantial investigations were required to assess the pursuer’s credibility.
- Acted for a construction group in a fully insured fatal asbestos claim, where the insurer was insolvent – raising complex issues as to the identity of the correct paymaster.
- Successfully negotiated the abandonment of an occupier’s liability claim against a construction company, after investigations established that the accident was caused by the pursuer.
DWF represents a range of insurer clients in claims concerning fatal or serious injuries following road traffic accidents, accidents at work and abroad. The counter-fraud team is particularly strong, having trebled in size since the arrival of Jill Sinclair in 2016. Director Lynne Macfarlane arrived from Clyde & Co LLP in 2019 to provide ‘outstanding assistance in highly complex and sensitive personal injury proceedings’. Andrew Lothian is head of the insurance practice.
‘Lynne Macfarlane has provided outstanding assistance in highly complex and sensitive personal injury proceedings. She has consistently demonstrated excellent knowledge of the law and procedure throughout the case and her attention to detail has been exemplary. She is also highly approachable. She would be my absolute first choice in complex personal injury cases.’
Tokio Marine Kiln
- Provided specialist advice to claimants and family members of the deceased in respect of a fatal road accident involving Japanese nationals in Scotland.
- Provided specialist advice with regard to stadium safety, design and risk assessments following the death of a fan in a stairwell at a football stadium.
- Advised on a claim whereby an employee was attacked by co-worker and left permanently disfigured. Strategic advice was needed to protect reputation of client and resolve liability.
Kennedys, which moved into the Scots market in 2015, is renowned for its ‘very good understanding of the insurance sector’, advising on issues relating to employers’, public and occupiers’ liability, as well as motor claims, industrial disease and fraud. Rory Jackson, who is dual-qualified to practice in both Scotland and England and Wales, advises insurers and corporates on both sides of the border. Peter Demick takes a ‘level-headed and pragmatic approach’ to assisting his clients on a broad spectrum of issues.
Other key lawyers:
‘Kennedys have a very clear understanding of our business requirements – their knowledge of the relevant legal jurisdiction mean that they are best placed to provide the solutions that we require when defending and resolving cases.‘
‘Rory Jackson is approachable, calm and patient. Complex issues are handled professionally, effectively and efficiently.’
‘Peter Demick has an extensive knowledge of the work where he is instructed and provides a personal and detailed service on a range of personal injury claims.’
Sixt Rent-a -car
Acromas Insurance Ltd.
HDI Global Insurance
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Travelers Insurance Company Ltd
- Advised the insurers of a stolen motorcycle to defend a claim raised by a severely injured pillion passenger, alongside the secondary victim psychological injury claims raised by his family members.
- Advised on a catastrophic spinal injury case involving a young cyclist who had only recently embarked on her career as a PE teacher.
- Advised a global insurer on a claim following the death of a 33-year-old diver in the North Sea.
Keoghs LLP advises a wide variety of insurers on motor claims, employers’ and public liability and historic abuse issues. The group has been ‘extremely proactive’ in moving into the marine sector in recent year; Douglas Cowan works alongside the marine, ports and offshore team on specialist personal injury matters. David Hennessy is experienced in matters related to asbestos, dermatitis and noise-induced hearing loss.
‘Strong reputation in defender reparation. Knowledgeable about the sector and commercially very switched-on.’
‘Keoghs have relatively recently moved into the shipping and offshore insurance claim sector, and have been extremely proactive in building a book of business. Their rates are extremely competitive, and the clear reporting structure and access to and involvement of the partner in charge is a real positive.’
- Acted for AXA in a personal injury claim for carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Advised on a serious personal injury claim by an employee of who had suffered a fractured hip (requiring hip replacement) following a trip in the workplace.
- Advised the insurer of a housing association in defence of a personal injury court action by a tenant who had suffered a dislocation of her right elbow and fracture of right wrist.
Ledingham Chalmers LLP represents local authorities across Scotland in a variety of claims including employers’ liability, industrial disease and public liability matters. The group is particularly active in historic abuse issues, frequently defending local councils in the court of session, and also advises insurers on fatal motor accidents. Graeme Edward, Victoria Leslie and Sarah Morris are based in Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh respectively.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team does extensive work for local authorities and has done so for several years. They are very experienced and able.’
‘Ledingham Chalmers are an excellent Scottish firm who have maintained a strong position in the local market despite the influx of UK firms into the market in recent years. They have a regional presence across Scotland which is very valuable as it allows them to service customers in all areas, and that has been key to their continued success.‘
‘Graeme Edward has for many years now been one of the best solicitors in the Scottish insurance market. He can turn his hand to any type of case and always delivers. He is extremely popular with our clients, has a very relaxed manner, and has built a very strong team around him. Victoria Leslie is also a leading figure in the local market and has delivered countless successes over the years for our customer base.’
North Lanarkshire Council
East Lothian Council
- Represented Tradex Insurance in a fatality claim worth £2m.
- Defended Aberdeen city council in a historic abuse claim worth £500,000.
- Defended South Lanarkshire Council in a court of session historic abuse claim.
Plexus Law, which launched in Scotland in 2013, has continued to build up its Edinburgh-based practice, and last year secured the notable hire of Clyde & Co LLP litigator Calum Mathieson. He joins a team, led by Cameron McNaught, that has worked together for many years, and is praised for being 'a market leader in effective billing' and 'and pulling rabbits out of hats during litigation'. Clients include household name insurers and major corporates, and the practice handles the full range of claims, with notable recent work including cases concerning serious road traffic accidents, injuries at work and asbestos exposure.
‘Plexus are a top defenders’ insurance litigation practice with a very skilled and experienced team.’
‘Stuart Mackie in Scotland is an excellent lawyer in the field of complex long tail disease litigation, with a level of skill and knowledge that belies his age.’
‘Laurie Traynor is a pleasure to work with; conscientious, caring and with very good judgement.’
‘Calum Mathieson has considerable experience in health and safety crime, and will raise the profile of the firm in this area hugely. Calum has an excellent manner with clients, and is both practical and pragmatic in his approach to cases.’
‘A bespoke and focused service. Plexus are aligned with our ethos and view of the world; they know what we want to see more of, and what behaviours we eschew. We have found this invaluable in creating a “no-surprises culture” between lawyer and client. Plexus have a track record of going that extra mile and pulling rabbits out of hats during litigation.’
‘Calum Mathieson is a calm and measured individual, who provides sensible and appropriate advice taking account the merits of the arguments as well as wider commercial and risk factors playing into decision-making. ‘
‘Cameron McNaught is a very skilled and highly respected lawyer with extensive experience in personal injury and insurance litigation. He has headed the team in Edinburgh for a number of years developing the business from start up in Scotland.’
‘Julie Fisher is a very competent lawyer with great interpersonal skills.’
‘For our business sector, Plexus is a market leader in effective billing. Given that one of our chief desires in running our portfolio is finality and acceleration, this is a greatly appreciated skill.’
Direct Line Group (Inc. Churchill, NIG, Direct Line and Privilege)
CIS General Insurance
- Represented the defendant driver in a claim arising from a serious road traffic accident, on the instructions of Saga. The claimant was a cyclist who suffered a catastrophic head injury leaving him unable to resume his teaching career and requiring 24-hour care. The claimant sought damages of just over £9m; the matter was resolved at a figure of £5.75m
- Defended a claim where the claimant had sustained a displaced and dislocated right ankle which he alleged was due to forcible ejection from a nightclub. The sum sued for was £1.5m; the claimant accepted the tender (part 36) of £115,000.
- Pursued a case to the Sheriff Appeal Court as part of a strategic initiative with Direct Line Group to tackle the increasing cost and number of experts in low value RTA cases.
From its office in Glasgow, Weightmans LLP advises insurers, PLCs and large public and private companies on a range of issues relating to road traffic collisions, industrial disease, accidents at work and public liability matters, often with a cross-border element. The practice enjoyed a successful 2019, winning appointments to the insurance panels of AXA XL, MMI and First Central Insurance. Douglas Keir , Pamela Stevenson and Seonaid Busby are the key practitioners.
‘Weightmans’ client service is first class and they are always my first choice when instructing a Scottish legal firm. They are collectively very knowledgeable and always ready to dedicate time and attention to any queries I have.’
‘Engaging, subject matter experts who are quick to respond and easy to access.’
‘Both Pamela Stevenson and Seonaid Busby have provided our company with dedicated, comprehensive reports and knowledge and regularly visit to provide training to our insurance claims staff. They are always approachable and eager to help.’
‘Doug Kier, Seonaid Busby and Pamela Stevenson have all been supportive across a number of areas including training support.’
The Co-operative Insurance
First Central Insurance
PIB Insurance Brokers
Motor Insurers Bureau
HDI Global SE
- Acted for The Co-operative Insurance in relation to a multimillion-pound claim for damages arising out of a road traffic accident where the pursuer suffered a traumatic above-knee amputation. The pursuer was very fit/active prior to the accident and there is a significant claim for hi-tech prosthetics.
- Acted for AIG Europe in a fatal asbestos litigation where the investigations allowed a robust defence to be advanced with the claim ultimately settling for a modest amount compared to the sum sought in the court papers.
- Acted for AIG Europe in relation to a claim for Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis alleged to have been caused through exposure to paper dust at a printing factory.