“A highly intelligent, considerate and astute barrister. His knowledge, experience and ability to tackle and explain complex issues with ease is invaluable.”
The Legal 500
John chaired the Babylifeline Duty of Candour Conference, September 2016
Experience & Expertise
In clinical negligence John is regularly instructed in cases of the highest value. At any one time he is normally acting in upwards of 20 cerebral palsy claims, for both claimants and defendants. He has considerable experience of acquired brain injury in both children and adults; spinal cord injury; brachial plexus injury; amputations; and fatal cases, frequently those involving large dependency claims.
There is a large crossover between clinical negligence and other personal injury cases. John is regularly instructed in seven-figure PI claims including those arising out of road traffic accidents and accidents at work.
John has a special interest in damages claims arising out of sexual abuse including abuse by doctors, teachers and carers and claims arising from sexual assaults on holidays abroad.
John has extensive public law experience, acting in judicial review claims in the health, education and police sector as well as statutory appeals from disciplinary tribunals (including the GMC, GDC and NMC).
John has practiced in police law for over 20 years and regularly presents evidentially complex cases to police misconduct panels and on appeal to the Police Appeals Tribunal.
Cases and work of note
John’s busy practice sees him working on a wide range of high value medical and police cases, often involving particularly sensitive issues or difficult expert evidence. He has a real ability to connect both with expert witnesses and clients, to focus on what matters in a case. Most cases settle before trial but where it is necessary to go to court John is an experienced and skilful advocate. Chambers & Partners comments that “his cross-examination style has been described as ruthless and meticulous and has clearly led to some impressive successes at trial.”
John’s current caseload includes:
- Cerebral palsy;
- Acquired brain injury, including injury following surgery and anaesthetic accidents;
- Spinal cord injury;
- Meningitis and overwhelming sepsis;
- Brachial plexus injuries at birth;
- Delayed diagnosis of cancer;
- Sexual abuse by doctors;
- Psychiatric injury, including suicide following negligent treatment;
- Cauda Equina Syndrome;
- Loss of sight;
- Other catastrophic and life-changing injuries.
John is consistently ranked by the legal directories as a leading silk, featuring in clinical negligence, professional discipline and police law.
The current edition of The Legal 500 comments that “it is rare to have the opportunity to work with such a talented and outstanding advocate,” while noting also that, “his commercial awareness assists in the management and running of cases.”
Other recent directory editorial has included the following:
- a rising star due to his affability, intelligence and exceptional grasp of all the issues in a case;
- impresses with his empathy as a person as well as with his legal acumen;
- first rate, responsive and a brilliant advocate;
- fantastic interpersonal skills;
- brilliant with clients;
- I could not praise him highly enough;
- one of the cleverest barristers I’ve ever met on causation;
- some impressive successes at trial;
- has a no-nonsense style, is approachable and tells it like it is;
- has a great way of looking at a case from a different angle;
- he’s very smart and very tactically focused;
- his attention to detail is outstanding;
- a fantastic advocate;
- a dream to work with;
- highly rated for the combination of his strong intellect and his approachable nature;
- an incredibly gutsy fighter and a great strategist;
- his cross-examination is ruthless and meticulous;
- a great tactician, who’s committed and knowledgeable;
- can easily carve his way through the most complex issues;
- with him you really feel like you are working in a partnership; and
- if you could bottle what he’s got, you would never need another barrister.
I love the immense variety between cases and meeting such a huge number of different people: clients, witnesses, experts, solicitors, barristers. Clinical negligence lawyers are permitted to share other people’s deepest worries and most personal tragedies. It is not just about winning cases, it is often more about helping to find answers and understanding what has happened to clients or those they care about most. We are also privileged to work with some of the brightest medical minds and best expert witnesses in the country and to learn new things every day.
Knowing the law is important, but it is far more important to identify the core of a case and then work as a team to achieve the best possible outcome. I am a strong advocate and where cases do not settle I relish the opportunity to cross-examine experts in court. I have always received excellent feedback from my lay clients.
“It is not just about winning cases, it is often more about helping to find answers.”
The more difficult a case the more important it is for everyone to be pulling in the same direction. I encourage every solicitor I work with to phone or email me regularly as a case progresses. I am not one for sitting and waiting for formal instructions with a pretty pink ribbon.
I aim to make a difference in every case. Sometimes that might mean achieving a slightly better settlement but in others it might be the difference between winning and losing. Sometimes cases look impossible on breach or causation but by looking at the evidence differently the prospects can be turned on their head. At trial the margins between winning and losing can be very fine, the very best advocacy can make the difference.
If we haven’t worked together before then please do ring or email me to discuss any case, big or small. I understand that not everyone is right for every case and there are different ways of working but let’s give it a go.
John has a First in Philosophy and Theology from Oriel College, Oxford, graduating in 1993. He took a Law Conversion Course at De Montfort University where he was placed first in his year in 1994. He read for the Bar Finals at the ICSL in London and won a scholarship from Gray’s Inn.
John enjoys lecturing and contributing to seminars. He set up and runs the annual Serjeants’ Inn & Oxford Neurosurgery Medical Law Conference for clinical negligence enthusiasts which is now in its seventh year.
Other recent highlights include:
- Chairing the Babylifeline Duty of Candour Conference September 2016
- Nervous Shock, AVMA Brighton 2016
- Aspirin and Causation
- Material Contribution
- Part 36 Offers
- Working with Medical Experts, MBL Seminar October 2015
- Chairing the Babylifeline Obstetric Negligence Conference October 2015
For further details of John’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: 33629
Registered Name: John Hugh de Bono
VAT Registration No: 673386406