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Overview

Richard specialises principally in personal injury, clinical negligence, disease, counter fraud, criminal regulatory, employment and professional discipline and regulation.  He has particular expertise in coronial work.

He acts broadly equally for both Claimants and Defendants/Respondents.  He has a number of very faithful instructing solicitors who return to him time after time.

He has been one of the Attorney General’s Junior Counsel to the Crown (Treasury Counsel) continuously since 1994.  He regularly acts for a wide range of Government Departments and Agencies in personal injury, inquest and employment matters.

He is registered with the Bar Council to undertake Direct Access work and is able to receive instructions directly from lay clients, as well as those on the traditional professional client basis.  This is particularly well suited for his employment tribunal and professional discipline and regulation work.

Richard’s interests away from the Bar include watching and, to a decreasing degree, participating in a range of sports.  He remains an avid and very competent skier, and runs, cycles and does the occasional sprint triathlon.  Having formerly played, coached and then refereed rugby, is now merely a keen fan.  He is married to a sport injuries physiotherapist and has three children.

Personal Injury

Personal injury work has been the most significant component of Richard’s practice since being called to the Bar.

Acting for both Claimants and Defendants, he has gained considerable experience of all stages of the full range of personal injury claims, including:

  • Fatal accidents
  • Clinical negligence
  • Traumatic injury
  • Occupational disease claims

His personal injury practice has, through more than 25 years, afforded him experience of conducting personal injury litigation from pre-issue, County Court, High Court and appeals in the Court of Appeal.  The range of work undertaken by him includes any type of personal injury claim litigated on the Multi Track.  He undertakes advisory work in respect of all aspects of liability, quantum, tactics and evidence, conducts conferences with relevant experts, attends interlocutory hearings and conducts trials and appeals.  He is extremely adept in negotiation at joint settlement meetings.

He has a particular interest and involvement in claims related to injuries suffered on the field of sporting play, and in particular during football or rugby matches.  Most recently he recovered £40,000 for a Claimant who suffered a significant double leg fracture from a lunging, late and high tackle during an amateur Sunday league match.  The claim succeeded despite the absence of evidence from a match official and despite the fact that the challenge was seen but went undisciplined during the game.  The judge was satisfied on the evidence called that the tackle constituted negligent serious foul play, with the Defendant having had a reckless disregard for the Claimant’s safety.

Clinical Negligence

Clinical negligence forms a significant part of Richard’s practice.

He deals with a very wide range of areas of medical practice, including GP’s, Orthopaedics, Dentistry, Ophthalmic, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Accident and Emergency and Plastics.

Recent experience includes claims alleging:

  • Deaths and injury resulting from inadequate medical attention
  • Failure to administer appropriate medical treatment
  • Failed hip replacement surgery
  • Failed breast enlargement surgery
  • Negligently conducted hysterectomies
  • Fatal damage to the iliac artery and vein during an L5/S1 discectomy
  • Poor surgical practice
  • Systemic failure
  • Failure to diagnose diabetic retinopathy
  • Death resulting from failure to recognise the progression of Hereditary Angeodema
  • Failure to spot spinal cord compression (resulting in the Claimant being confined to a wheelchair)
  • Failure to diagnose a malignant chrondrosarcoma tumour

Disease

Occupational disease work is one aspect of personal injury work conducted by Richard, and he has significant experience of all aspects of this type of work.

He was Counsel for the Defendant in the case of Holtby v Brigham and Cowan (Hull) Limited and was the first to raise the issue of divisibility of injury in relation to asbestosis, a decision which he assisted upholding as Junior Counsel in the Court of Appeal.

He was also Counsel for one of the few successful claimants at first instance, again upheld in the Court of Appeal, in the work-related stress cases known as Hartman v South Essex Mental Health NHS Trust and Others.

In addition to involvement in those significant reported cases he routinely deals with cases relating to all aspects of disease, including:

  • Asbestos-related
  • NIHL
  • VWF
  • WRULD

As well as undertaking all advisory work and specialist pleadings in this area, Richard is experienced in conducting limitation trials relating to disease injury as well as undertaking the full hearings.

A recent example of both his first instance and appellate experience in limitation cases is demonstrated by Johnson v Ministry of Defence and Another.

He also provides representation on behalf of healthcare registrants before their disciplinary bodies.

Counter Fraud

Richard’s initial ten years of practice, involving a significant element of Crown Court criminal work before moving to Ropewalk Chambers, makes him perhaps particularly well-placed to explore fraudulent claims, whether they arise from the outright invention of an accident/injury or the more subtle deliberate exaggeration of legitimate heads of damage.

Cross-examination of Claimants thought to be pursuing fraudulent claims is, for him, an area of particular interest and professional reward.

Whilst aware of the recognition by Courts of chronic pain, ME, fibromyalgia, somatoform disorders and the like, Richard is well able to probe into the divide between the genuine and the fraudulent.  His most startling success was a false reflex sympathetic dystrophy claim where a Claimant who broke his thumb at work ended up confined to a wheelchair apparently unable to walk, work or care for himself.  He was exposed at the trial as a fraud and was at the conclusion of his cross-examination forced to discontinue his claim and pay the Defendant’s costs on Judicial threat of having the matter referred to the DPP.

Inquests and Criminal Regulatory

Richard has significant experience in defending and mitigating on Health and Safety prosecutions arising out of work related personal injury.

So far as inquest work is concerned he has considerable experience in representing a wide range of “interested persons” including the family of the deceased, albeit is more commonly instructed by those whose conduct is being critically enquired in to.  He is very experienced in conducting both “Coroner only” and “Coroner with Jury” type inquests and in those engaging Article 2 HRA.

He regularly attends pre-inquest review hearings, complex multi-party inquests lasting up to six weeks, and inquests where risks of criminal charges being brought against witnesses/organisations are still under consideration.

He is well used to dealing with the quasi-criminal nature attaching to some inquest hearings, the robust approach of some representatives and Coroners, as well as the peculiar sensitivities that will always arise.  He is frequently instructed to advise clients on all aspects of inquest hearing and preparation and regularly holds conferences with proposed inquest witnesses.

He is regularly instructed on behalf of Government Departments at jury inquests.

Richard also has experience of acting as Counsel to the Inquest, assisting Coroners in conducting complex or heavy inquests.  He recently acted as Counsel to the Central Lincolnshire Coroner in a high profile inquest relating to the death of a Red Arrow pilot which lasted 3 weeks.  This was very document heavy and technically complex, involving no less than seven interested persons including the Lincolnshire Police and the HSE, variously represented by silks and other senior counsel.

Employment

Richard started undertaking employment work in his previous Chambers, accepting an appointment as Junior Counsel to the Crown in respect of employment matters in 1994.  This has continued and flourished since moving to Ropewalk Chambers in 1996.

He is regularly instructed in all manner of employment claims within the Employment Tribunal jurisdiction including:

  • Unfair dismissal
  • Breach of contract
  • All aspects of discrimination
  • TUPE

He has been involved in group actions and claims brought by Unions and against blue chip Respondents.

He also deals with other employment-related claims in the jurisdiction of the County Court and High Court including:

  • Restrictive covenants
  • Restraint of trade clauses
  • Confidential information
  • Wrongful dismissal
  • Breach of contract

His employment practice profile suggests an even split between Claimant and Respondent work.  He has experience of conducting claims within the Employment Tribunal, the EAT and the Court of Appeal.

He also represents medical and other professionals before their relevant disciplinary bodies.

Richard sat briefly as a part-time Employment Tribunal Judge in the Birmingham region but quickly decided he much preferred being the advocate, so relinquishing his appointment in order to further concentrate on developing his practice.

Notable Cases

Richard has appeared in a range of notable cases including:

Inquest into the death of Sean Cunningham – Counsel to the Inquest in high profile inquest into the death of a Red Arrows pilot in Lincolnshire.  Four week inquest with the interested parties being represented by senior juniors and silks.  Police and HSE representation.  Extensive media involvement.

Johnson v (1) Ministry of Defence (2) Hobourn Eaton Limited [2012] EWCA Civ 1505 (Acted for the Ministry of Defence at first instance and in the Court of Appeal; limitation hearing; constructive knowledge; consideration of actions of the reasonable Claimant; how the assumption of sufficient curiosity was to be applied)

Scotthorne v Four Seasons Conservatories Ltd 14 May 2010 Transcript - Employment Appeal Tribunal (disclosure and inspection; legal advice privilege; litigation privilege and specific disclosure in the Employment Tribunal)

Holtby v Brigham and Cowan (Hull) Limited [2000] 3 All ER 421, [2000] ICR 1086, [2000] Lloyd’s Rep Med 254: Times, April 12, 2000 - Court of Appeal (established the divisibility of injury in asbestosis for the first time)

Hartman v South Essex Mental Health NHS Trust and Others [2005] EWCA Civ 6 - Court of Appeal (clarification of the requirements necessary for successful work related stress injuries)

Osborne v Valve (Engineering) Services Ltd [2001] Emp LR 53 - Employment Appeal Tribunal (breach of contract; causes of action; jurisdiction; res judicata)

O’Hara v Rye 12 Feb 1999 Transcript - Court of Appeal (delay; unless orders; strike out; procedure)

Poundall v Lincolnshire County Council 9 February 1998 Transcript - Court of Appeal (re-trial; delay in delivering judgment; inadequacy of reasons; injustice)

Recommendations

Recent recommendations for Richard include:

“Represents claimants and defendants in a wide range of personal injury cases.’

Legal 500 2015 – Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence

“Richard Seabrook is 'experienced in TUPE, unfair dismissal and discrimination cases.'’

Legal 500 2015 – Employment

“Represents government departments and agencies at inquests.’

Legal 500 2015 – Regulatory, health and safety, and licensing

“An extremely effective junior.”

Legal 500 – Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence

“Richard Seabrook has experience in unfair dismissal, TUPE and discrimination cases.”

Legal 500 – Employment

“Richard Seabrook is a recognised practitioner on circuit for employment matters.”

Legal 500 – Employment

Areas of Work

  • Personal Injury
  • Clinical Negligence
  • Disease
  • Inquests and Criminal Regulatory
  • Counter Fraud

Professional Memberships

  • Personal Injuries Bar Association
  • Employment Law Bar Association

Recent Publications

Recent News

  • Legal 500 UK Bar 2016 Leading Junior

    Richard has been listed as a Tier 1 Leading Junior in the Legal 500 UK 2016 guide to outstanding juniors nationwide. He is recommended on the Midland Circuit for Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence and Regulatory, Health & Safety, and Licensing.

    "Hes has an astute legal brain and is always quick to grasp the issues."

    Please click here for more information.

  • Legal 500 UK Bar 2015 Leading Junior

    Richard has been listed as a Tier 1 Leading Junior in the Legal 500 UK 2015 guide to outstanding juniors nationwide. He is recommended on the Midland Circuit for Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence, and Regulatory, Health & Safety, and Licensing.

    "Very thorough, reliable and, procedurally, absolutely fantastic."

    Please click here for more information.

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