Personal injury and clinical negligence: defendant in South East


The Southampton-based defendant personal injury team at BLM specialises in significant, high-value and complex cases covering a wide range of matters, including healthcare, health and safety, occupational disease, equestrian and construction claims, regularly handling cross-border matters. National catastrophic injury head Andrew Hibbert is praised for his 'technical know-how and progressive approach' and is described as one of the 'leading defendant catastrophic injury lawyers in the country'. Other key figures in the team - which acts for top 10 insurers, transport companies and public authorities - include the 'first-class' Joe Wakeford, who has a background in clinical negligence, and the 'very customer-focused' Clare Garnett, as well as Andrew Williamson  - 'a high-flying star who is enormously respected in the industry' - and Richard Grayson, who 'is hugely admired by clients for his tenacity and insight'. Stephanie Atkinson has a particular interest in cases concerning premature birth, while Gemma Parker has recently led on a number of major road traffic accident claims.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Hibbert; Joe Wakeford; Clare Garnett

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Williamson; Andrew West; Stephanie Atkinson; Richard Grayson; Gus Peake; Gemma Parker


‘Vast experience of insurance litigation and a firm that fosters individual responsibility for its lawyers and not afraid to let their team make tough decisions early in their career.’

‘Andrew Williamson and Lucy Pragnell make a formidable team. Very down-to-earth but extremely knowledgeable.’

‘Andrew Williamson is a high-flying star who is enormously respected in the industry.’

‘Joe Wakeford is a first-class defence lawyer with strong strategic sense.’

‘Diverse experience with expertise in a number of areas from personal injury litigation (disease and accident) to complex product and contractual liability situations. Particularly in-depth knowledge of defending noise induced hearing loss and mental wellbeing losses.’

‘The team is led by Andrew Hibbert who is probably the leading defendant catastrophic injury lawyers in the country, in terms of his technical know-how, his progressive approach to cases, and his ability to recognise when and how to make the right argument. He heads up an impressive team, all of whom are first-rate.’

‘BLM are big hitters in the field of defendant catastrophic injury work. I have always found them to be very collaborative to work with and we have been able to cut through numerous issues in order to focus on those issues that really determine the value of a claim. ’

‘Andrew Hibbert is the standout member of the team. He was at the forefront of developing a transparent and collaborative approach between our firms on cases that we are both involved in.’

Key clients









Markel International



Dorset Council

Colas Limited

Hampshire Police Authority

Liberty Global



The Maidstone-based team at Brachers continues to handle significant and highly complex defendant clinical negligence work. Medical defence team head Scott Alexander specialises in high-value claims and also has a niche area of specialism in ophthalmology work. John Sheath advises on internal and external inquiries, while also defending claims against healthcare professionals such as doctors and medical staff at inquests. Harriet Humphrey is highly experienced dealing with a range of clinical negligence claims, including misdiagnosis, delays in diagnosis, orthopaedic and neurological injuries, and mismanaged labour and birth injuries. She works alongside Frances Cutler, 'a star in the making' who specialises in dental clinical negligence claims.

Practice head(s):

Scott Alexander

Other key lawyers:

John Sheath; Harriet Humphrey; Frances Cutler; Andrew Bate


‘Scott Alexander is very experienced, calm and a pleasure to work with.’

Harriet Humphrey is astute and a star in the making.

‘Scott Alexander and Andrew Bate are both first-rate with a good feel for litigation, ably supported by the ever-efficient Frances Cutler and Yazmine Butler-Hewitt.’

Key clients

The Medical Defence Union

The Dental Defence Union

Specsavers Optical Group

DAC Beachcroft LLP

DAC Beachcroft LLP has a long and well-established reputation for its work in the healthcare sector, with a strong bench of expert lawyers in Winchester as part of a market-leading national practice. Clinical risk head Matthew McGrath has significant experience of dealing with brain injured claimants and is a trusted advisor to NHS Resolution, while Heather Durston-Hillyer, who heads the clinical risk team in Winchester, is highly regarded for her expertise defending NHS and private health clients in cases involvimng spine, brain, and birth injury, as well as complex liability and quantum issues. Anthea Lane is widely regarded for her work dealing with sensitive catastrophic birth and spinal injury matters. Key senior associates include Claire Sandercock, who 'effortlessly analyses difficult cases', and Sheryl Gearing, who leads the dedicated low value claims team in Winchester.

Practice head(s):

Heather Durston-Hillyer; Nigel Montgomery; Matthew McGrath

Other key lawyers:

Anthea Lane; Claire Sandercock; Sheryl Gearing


‘They have a national and regional presence and are in the top five defendant firms in the UK for clinical negligence in my view. Their people management seems very good. They have good flexible working patterns; their staff are motivated and happy, and they seem to have a very high retention rate.’

‘Anthea Lane is extremely well-versed in all aspects of clinical negligence litigation, with very sound judgement, good interpersonal skills, and a highly-developed sense of client care and efficient claims management.’

‘Claire Sandercock effortlessly analyses difficult cases, identifies the crucial issues and works very hard to ensure her client has the best possible chances of succeeding on those issues.’

‘Sheryl Gearing is very experienced in clinical negligence claims and has very sound judgement on their merits and management.’

‘The team is very approachable and responsive to needs. They utilise the strengths within their team to allocate an appropriate representative based on experience and what might be required by their client to support with the process.’

‘Whilst the team is large and diverse, each team member brings with them their own personal qualities which allows the client to valued and listened to. They have a very good understanding of client needs, NHS processes/systems and able to work with individuals and teams to generate the best evidence by allowing teams to share their knowledge but can as as a support and guide to ensure the best quality of evidence is provided by the organisation. ’

‘DACB’s strength is in the quality of individuals it has attracted and retained across different teams and different offices. Their efficiency in resolving problems that arise mid-litigation is also impressive. ’

‘I would put them at the top of the list of defence solicitors because of the depth of knowledge of their partners and solicitors in the sector.’

Key clients

NHS Resolution

Medical Defence Union

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

University Hospitals Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust

United Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust (formerly Bournemouth and Poole Trusts)

Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust

Isle of Wight NHS Trust

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust

South Central Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust

Solent NHS Trust

HCA International

Work highlights

  • Secured the first success for NHS Resolution in the Supreme Court since 2003 in Henderson v Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Successfully defended three claims at trial during 2020 for Oxford University Hospitals NHSFT, saving a combined total in potential damages of in excess of £5m.
  • Successfully defended NHS Resolution at trial of a number of other smaller value matters, thus supporting one of NHS Resolution’s aims, being to defend unjustified claims robustly.

Gordons Partnership 2020 Limited

The Guildford clinical negligence team at Gordons Partnership LLP is highly experienced in advising and representing healthcare clients facing high-value claims. The team is co-led by Charles Atkins, who 'combines a tenacious approach to his cases with great tactical judgement' and Iain Pickering, who has 'a relentless determination to pursue his clients' best interests'. Alison Harden handles cases involving injuries of the utmost severity, including birth injuries, brain injuries and spinal injuries, while other key members of the team include experienced clinical negligence specialists Carla Applegate and Suzie McCluney .

Practice head(s):

Charles Atkins; Iain Pickering

Other key lawyers:

Alison Harden; Carla Applegate; Suzie McCluney


‘Super-efficient and proactive, with excellent knowledge of the field.’

‘They are able to combine other disciplines, for example data protection, within the clinical negligence team.’

‘This is an experienced clinical negligence team who mainly act for MDU defendants. Their aggressive style of litigation meets the desire of their MDU clients and can achieve very good results, particularly when there is a co-defendant who can be persuaded to take on, arguably, more than their fair share of the liability. ’

‘Charles Atkins and Suzie McCluney are both experienced litigators who are unafraid to take a robust stance.’

‘Gordons is a very reliable firm who are very good at what they do. They are thorough, thoughtful and do the job properly.’

‘This team is at the very top for dealing with GP negligence claims. The team is efficient very good value and deals sympathetically with defendant GPs, almost all of whom have no prior experience of being sued.’

‘Iain Pickering is a very determined character with a relentless determination to pursue his client’s best interests and often secures an extremely good result in consequence.’


The personal injury team at Kennedys has national and international reach, operating from a South East base in Chelmsford. The firm advises major medical insurers, brokers, and public bodies on high-value, complex matters. Chelmsford managing partner Jennifer Harris leads the team on major motor and casualty claims, as well as significant catastrophic loss cases dealing with brain and spinal injury and amputations. Head of the liability division Richard West focuses primarily on catastrophic injury and motor vehicle accidents, while Joy Middleton is praised for her combination of technical ability and  personability, which 'make her a force to be reckoned with'. Kathryn Oldfield  is well regarded for catastrophic PI cases and is described as 'unflappably calm'.

Practice head(s):

Jennifer Harris

Other key lawyers:

Richard West; Joy Middleton; Kathryn Oldfield


‘Kathryn Oldfield is excellent at catastrophic PI. She has years of experience and is unflappably calm.’

‘A team that has it all covered, whatever the issue is. They are brilliant on cross-border and technical cases and have strength in depth when it comes to high value catastrophic injury and fatal claims. Their communication with insurer clients is exceptional and they are always sensitive to the individual client’s needs and aims.’

‘The casualty and property teams are based across a number of offices and offer a depth of knowledge across all topic areas.’

‘Joy Middleton is both technically an excellent lawyer and also excellent at dealing with the more tricky situations insurance relationships can throw up. Her technical ability makes her a force to be reckoned with.’

‘This is a fabulous team headed up by Richard West. They provide the most innovative and focused service to insurer clients. They are simply excellent.’

‘The key player is Richard West who is now a giant in the field. His is a proactive and client-orientated approach which has served him and his clients extremely well over the last 25 years.’

‘The company has a great many professional high quality legal staff from partner to paralegal level delivering consistent quality whilst at the same time looking for innovative ways to deal with litigation and matters pre-litigation to achieve resolution of the dispute or, where relevant, to gather evidence to support a full defence of matters which warrant it.’

‘I have been particularly impressed with Joy Middleton.’

Key clients

Gallagher Bassett

TUI Group

First Group


Brit Insurance

Keoghs LLP

In early 2020 Keoghs LLP joined Davies Group, the professional services and technology firm, expanding its ability to provide full legal coverage to medical professionals on matters relating to personal injury claims. The Southampton team is lead by the 'highly knowledgeable' Matthew Perkins, who is a specialist in large loss defence for insurers related to motor risks, while Matthew Burfield specialises in fatal and large loss liability and motor claims. In late 2020, a catastrophic injury team Rachel Coombs, Sarah Parker, and Stuart Giddings departed for DWF.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Perkins

Other key lawyers:

Matthew Burfield; Paul Baxter; Ben Smoker


‘Matt Burfield is a pragmatic, no-nonsense litigator with years of experience across the board.’

‘I have worked on several cases with Matt Perkins and Ben Smoker. They are both outstandingly able lawyers and a pleasure to work with in the most serious and/or sensitive of catastrophic injury cases.’

‘Matt Perkins is the stand-out individual in Southampton. Indeed I would say that Matt Perkins really is one of the rising stars of the defendant PI market. He is an incredibly hardworking, diligent lawyer who is enormously astute and has great judgement. Insurers rate him very highly. I think he will be rated at the top echelon in the future. Truly exceptional.’

‘Matt Perkins is personable and smart – he really cares about his cases and clients.’

‘Paul Baxter is very well regarded. He has a wonderful human touch. Too many defendant insurance litigators neglect this side, I think for fear that it will prejudice their clients’ outcomes, but Paul has the intelligence to understand that a sensitive approach to defending claims maximises the outcomes for insurer clients.’

‘Keoghs’ Southampton office houses a very strong defendant personal injury team. They invest time and effort and individual attention into their serious and catastrophic injury cases. They meet and exceed insurers’ expectations and leave no stone unturned to deliver the best results in their cases. I’ve found them to be really responsive to modern technology and working through lockdown in the last 12 months – electronic instructions, the use of video cons and adapting to part-remote trials have all been handled expertly.’

‘Keoghs have a strong work ethic across their teams, with partners being aware of the detail in their cases but delegating effectively to their associates for day to day running of a claim.’

‘The team is attentive to our specific needs and our business model. The level of technical expertise and experience is very high.’

Key clients



Direct Line Group

Plexus Law

Plexus Law launched in Chelmsford in 2019 with the hire of a large team from Kennedys, and has quickly developed a strong reputation in the region for its work representing corporates and insurers on high-value and complex matters. Practice head Andrew Caplan is a highly experienced litigator handling catastrophic claims for insurers, alongside a specialism in representing individuals, charities and organisations facing sensitive allegations. Kate Prestidge heads up the heads up the abuse and sensitive claims team alongside Caplan. Thom Lumley works with clients across sectors including leisure, sport, retail and construction, Ron Ruston heads up the public sector team, while Angela Hanmore leads a team focusing on transport and travel claims.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Caplan

Other key lawyers:

Thom Lumley; Ron Ruston; Angela Hanmore; Kate Prestidge

Trethowans LLP

The insurance and regulatory department at Trethowans LLP secured a major boost in late 2020 with the hire of defendant insurance specialist Ferhat Choudri from BDB Pitmans, along with other key members of his former team. Choudri is well regarded for 'applying exceptional care and attention to his cases, with total commitment to the interests of his clients'. The practice is led by solicitor advocate Kelvin Farmaner, who has particular expertise in catastrophic road traffic accident claims, bringing a 'wealth of experience and a no-nonsense approach to litigation'. Bethany Blamire covers personal injury claims for both domestic and international insurers and is praised for her 'unparalleled ability to save clients money through astute case management'.

Practice head(s):

Kelvin Farmaner

Other key lawyers:

Bethany Blamire; Sarah Wheadon; Ferhat Choudri


‘The team has long term experience in dealing with claims of maximum severity both in personal injury and in clinical negligence.’

‘I consider the firm to be a high quality provincial practice with long term experience in personal injury and clinical negligence claims. The firm has sensible, experienced lawyers, good administrative backup and smart, modern premises. The lawyers appear to have a more individual and directly supportive relationship with clients than in some other firms.’

‘They are established players, punching above their weight for a regional practice, offering a genuine alternative to a London based provider.’

‘Great example of a modern law firm with traditional values – excellent lawyers but super approachable.’

‘Trethowans are one of the very best PI and clinical negligence firms on the South Coast with an increasing national profile.’

‘The team are cohesive and work well together. They have an excellent reputation within the industry and have the expertise to pursue complex and high value cases, They are particularly known for their spinal injuries work.’

‘They have a large presence in the market and are well run and resourced. They have a strength in depth that enables the team to deal effectively with all size of claims, including those of the highest value.’

Key clients

Van Ameyde UK Ltd

Cornish Mutual Assurance Co Ltd

Go Ahead Group


Saint Gobain Building Distribution Ltd

Appleby Westward Group Ltd

Flyct B.V.

Jewson Ltd

Farm and General Insurance Ltd

Gallagher Bassett


The newly formed Southampton practice at DWF is led by Stuart Giddings, Rachel Coombs, and Sarah Parker, who joined from Keoghs in a large team move in late 2020. It has particular expertise dealing with complex claims involving severe brain injuries, fatal accidents, and chronic pain, arising primarily out of motor, employer’s and public liability. The trio are supported by a team of senior associates including Helen Champion and Elspeth Fenton.

Practice head(s):

Stuart Giddings; Rachel Coombs; Sarah Parker

Other key lawyers:

Helen Champion; Elspeth Fenton

Key clients


Direct Line Group


Ellisons Solicitors

The Colchester-based insurance litigation team at Ellisons Solicitors is led by Robert Jones, alongside small claims and fast track team head Edward Weaver, who was recently promoted to partner. The practice, which ‘offers a bespoke service compared to their larger competitors’ handles a range of cases involving catastrophic injuries, including motor claims and those involving complex brain and spinal injuries . Natalie Simpkins is ‘extremely professional‘ and deals primarily with large loss matters and multi-track motor cases.

Practice head(s):

Robert Jones; Edward Weaver

Other key lawyers:

Natalie Simpkins


‘The team at Ellisons add a personal touch to a very professional practice. ’

‘Robert Jones is very much the steady hand. Edward Weaver is able to deal with an immense caseload with a calm and assured confidence. Natalie Simpkins is extremely professional and efficient.’

‘This is a small team but vastly experienced in defendant personal injury work. They really are able to offer a bespoke service compared to their larger competitors and their clients appreciate the personal service.’

‘The stand out individuals are Robert Jones who has a very good feel for claims and what it takes to settle them. The other outstanding partner is Natalie Simpkins who is young, dynamic, efficient and proactive.

Mayo Wynne Baxter LLP

The defendant insurance and personal injury team at Mayo Wynne Baxter LLP in Brighton acts for local authorities, emergency services,and utility companies on all types of personal injury claims, including industrial disease claims, class actions, and fatal injury cases. Lee Hills leads the group; he is an accredited mediator and is praised for the 'clarity of his advice and his strong tactical judgement'.

Practice head(s):

Lee Hills


‘Lee Hills is a brilliant, commercially minded litigator. He is justly popular amongst a range of insurer and tour operator clients for the clarity of his advice and his strong tactical judgement.’