George Thomas

Call 1995

George Thomas | Call 1995

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Overview

George works predominantly in the fields of healthcare and policing. Within these areas he acts for clients in matters relating to compensation claims (including human rights and discrimination), judicial review, employment, disciplinary proceedings, medical treatment decisions and inquests. Chambers & Partners notes that “he is down-to-earth, experienced, gets on with witness and clients, and gets the jury and judges on side.”

George is clerked primarily by Samantha Jones and Louis Lockwood.

“He is an excellent all-round, reliable barrister… fantastic for jury trials.” 
Chambers & Partners

George Thomas successfully defends the Metropolitan Police in Armistice Day false imprisonment claims
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Experience & Expertise

George is ranked as leading junior by both directories. He enjoys a broad practice that encompasses many of the more controversial issues affecting healthcare and policing, in particular those raising difficult questions in relation to human rights or discrimination. Such issues inevitably cross the boundaries between what are in large part private legal remedies via civil litigation (including employment disputes), public law obligations and the regulation of the public sector.

George has particular interests in public order policing and the deprivation of liberty in its different guises and discrimination in the provision of services by public bodies.

In the area of personal liberty, he is a major contributor to the deprivation of liberty chapter in ‘Medical Treatment Decisions and the Law’, addressing the confinement of patients who do not have the capacity to consent for the purposes of medical treatment.   He has also advised numerous police forces on appropriate measures to safeguard the rights and welfare, as well as the autonomy of seventeen year-old detainees in police custody.  His inquest experience includes numerous cases of those who have died in the custody of the police, prisons and mental health system as well as those patients physically unable to leave their place of treatment.

In the area of public order policing, George has almost unrivalled experience in advising both police forces and other organisations in relation to major public order events, particularly the policing of protests.  A co-author of “Public Order: Law and Practice” (Oxford University Press, 2012) he regularly provides advice on the planning and conduct of public order operations, such as anti-fracking protests, as well as dealing with claims following such events.

Claims brought against public bodies complaining of discrimination in the delivery of services are on the rise, and George has been providing specialist advice in this area for a number of years. Claims in which he has been retained have covered all protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, and have involved allegations such as failures in the investigation of attempted murder, delays in excluding suspects from a murder inquiry, questions about ethnic background by hospital staff, and delays in the delivery of physical treatment to those with mental health issues. He appeared on behalf of the Respondent in the case of Cary v Commissioner of Police in which the Court of Appeal set out the qualifications required to sit as an assessor in discrimination claims brought in the County Court (see below).

He has been instructed in a number of notable cases, including:

Police

  • Abdulle v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2016] 1 W.L.R. 898 Challenge in the Court of Appeal to the first instance decision not to strike out a claim that was not ready for trial on day one, where no court fee had been paid.
  • R. (on the application of BW) v Independent Monitor [2015] EWHC 4095 (Admin) Acted for the Chief Constable in the judicial review of the Independent Monitor’s decision to include in an enhanced criminal record check reference to an acquittal for sexual assault.
  • Laporte v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2015] EWHC 371 (QB) Determination of the impact on a successful party’s cost of a failure to enter into mediation.
  • Laporte v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2015] 3 All E.R. 438 Successful defence of civil claim brought following the policing of the occupation of Hackney Council chamber and offices by protestors.
  • Cary v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2014] EWCA Civ 987 Successful resistance to the Claimant’s challenge to the suitability /qualifications of an assessor appointed to sit with the judge in the County Court in a sexual orientation discrimination claim.
  • Wright v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2013] EWHC 2739 (QB) Successfully defended claim for false imprisonment by protestor who was detained to prevent a breach of the peace during a visit by Shimon Peres.
  • Chief Constable of Wiltshire v Police Appeals Tribunal [2012] EWHC 1798 (Admin) Junior counsel in a challenge to the PAT’s decision to reinstate a custody sergeant who had caused significant injuries to a drunk, uncooperative female detainee.
  • Farrar v Chief Constable of North Yorkshire [2012] UKEAT 0528_11_RN Acted for the Chief Constable in a challenge to the ET’s reasons given for dismissal of a sergeant’s claim for sex discrimination and victimisation (at the rehearing the claim was again unsuccessful).
  • Minio-Paluello v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2011] EWHC 3411 (QB) False imprisonment and assault claim arising out of the policing of the Israeli Embassy Protests in 2009
  • R. (on the application of Warren) v HM Assistant Coroner for Northamptonshire [2008] EWHC 966 (Admin) Challenge by way of judicial review to the Coroner’s decision not to call an expert at a forthcoming inquest, whether inquest would be a sufficient inquiry if such evidence were not called.
  • R (B) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2008] EWHC 2882 Acted for the Metropolitan Police in a judicial review of the prohibition within an ASBO on gang-members wearing clothing such as hooded tops
  • Austin v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2009] 1 AC 564 Instructed as a junior in the leading case establishing the legality of containment in order to prevent a breach of the peace.

Medical

  • Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust v Evans [2015] EWCA Civ 1059 Represented the Defendant in an appeal against a finding of liability on the grounds that there was no evidence to support a breach of duty by the operating surgeon.
  • R. (on the application of Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2013] EWHC 4101 (Admin) Acted for the hospital in judicial review proceedings who were unable to discharge a patient due to delays by the Secretary of State in taking steps to deport him.
  • Knight v Rochdale Healthcare NHS Trust [2004] 1 W.L.R. 371 A case confirming that the limitation period for contribution claims commences at the time of agreement to settle the principal action, rather than the subsequent consent order.

employment

  • Cary v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2014] EWCA Civ 987 Successful resistance to the Claimant’s challenge to the suitability /qualifications of an assessor appointed to sit with the judge in the County Court in a sexual orientation discrimination claim.
  • Farrar v Chief Constable of North Yorkshire [2012] UKEAT 0528_11_RN – challenge to decision of ET in an unsuccessful sex discrimination claim on ground that insufficient reasons were given
  • Opara v Partnerships in Care Ltd [2010] UKEAT 0368_09_1502 – relief from sanction following a successful Claimant’s failure to disclose evidence relating to valuation / mitigation of loss
  • Heatherwood & Wrexham Park Hospitals Trust v Beer Employment Appeal Tribunal, 14 June 2006

Professional Discipline & Regulatory LAw

  • Chief Constable of Wiltshire v Police Appeals Tribunal [2012] EWHC 1798 (Admin) Junior counsel in a challenge to the PAT’s decision to reinstate a custody sergeant who had caused significant injuries to a drunk, uncooperative female detainee.
  • R (Wiltshire Police Authority) v Police Appeal Tribunal [2012] Acting for Claimant in a challenge to the PAT’s decision to reinstate a custody sergeant who had previously been found by a disciplinary panel to have used excessive force against a female detainee.

Public and administrative law

  • R. (on the application of BW) v Independent Monitor [2015] EWHC 4095 (Admin) Acted for the Chief Constable in the judicial review of the Independent Monitor’s decision to include in an enhanced criminal record check reference to an acquittal for sexual assault.
  • R. (on the application of Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2013] EWHC 4101 (Admin) Acted for the hospital in judicial review proceedings who were unable to discharge a patient due to delays by the Secretary of State in taking steps to deport him.
  • R. (on the application of the Mayor and Burgesses of Tower Hamlets) v Commissioner of Police [2013, unreported]  Successfully resisted simultaneous challenges by both Tower Hamlets Council and the English Defence League to the policing plan for a protest and counter-protest
  • Warren, R (on the application of) v Her Majesty’s Assistant Coroner for Northamptonshire [2008] EWHC 966 – challenge to the refusal of a Coroner to accede to a party’s request to call psychiatric expert evidence at prison death inquest.
  • R (B) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2008] EWHC 2882 Acted for the Metropolitan Police in a judicial review of the prohibition within an ASBO on gang- members wearing clothing such as hooded tops.

recommendations

George is ranked in Chambers & Partners as a band one junior for police law. He is featured in The Legal 500 as a leading junior for professional discipline and regulatory law.

Chambers & Partners describes him as “an excellent all-round, reliable barrister” while The Legal 500 states that he is “very knowledgeable, thorough, robust and effective.”

Other recent directory editorial includes the following:

  • he can answer any question you ask him;
  • a must-have for mass arrest cases;
  • fantastic for jury trials;
  • the Met trust him with sensitive cases;
  • a real expert in public order claims;
  • very knowledgeable and tactically astute;
  • has a very calming manner;
  • gets the jury and judges on side;
  • down-to-earth;
  • meticulous in his preparation;
  • a leading name in public order matters;
  • very aware of police law and what is required;
  • particularly commended for his concise advice;
  • robust and effective;
  • a great knowledge of mental health;
  • very methodical in his cross-examination; and
  • a particularly persuasive advocate.

reflections

Advocacy is all about clarity. From the magistrates’ court upwards, the most effective question or submission is the one that helps the tribunal understand your case. The more complicated the case, the greater skill and preparation required to simplify it, to clarify and persuade your audience, rather than confuse it.

Looks great on paper, but… Inside and outside the courtroom, perhaps the most important skill when analysing a case is distinguishing between the accounts or arguments that look good on paper and those that will actually carry the day. Easier said than done.

“Winning cases requires both leadership and real, sustained commitment from the whole team”

Sometimes case preparation feels like panning for gold. It is hard, painstaking and sometimes exhausting work, but you are driven by the belief you will find enough hidden grains to make it all worthwhile.

Self-employed, but not flying solo. Long experience has taught me there is only so much you can do by yourself. Winning cases requires both leadership and real, sustained commitment from the whole team: client, solicitor and counsel.

It didn’t start out like this. I started out doing junior roles in large construction cases, with rooms (sometimes warehouses) of documents. For a while there was little like it in police or healthcare, until the arrival of the mega-inquiries.

I try never to forget the human cost of litigation. Barristers are lucky, we get to walk away. For both claimants and defendants the true impact of winning or losing often goes far beyond a failed damages claim or an adverse costs order. Years later, I sometimes find myself wondering how my client is getting along.

further information

For further details of George’s practice please click on the links to the left or contact a member of the clerking or client service team.

Bar Council Membership No: 33698
Registered Name: George Llewellyn Thomas
VAT Registration No: 706763818