John de Bono QC

Call 1995 | Silk 2014

John de Bono QC | Call 1995 | Silk 2014

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John is highly sought after by both claimants and defendants. He is well known as a leading practitioner in clinical negligence. He is regularly instructed in cases of the highest value. At any one time he is typically involved 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.

Clinical Negligence and Healthcare

“It is rare to have the opportunity to work with such a talented and outstanding advocate.”
The Legal 500

Accommodation Claims and Negative Discount Rates
Click here to read John’s post on our UK Healthcare Law blog.

For Claimants:

John understands that for most claimants the most important thing is understanding what has gone wrong with medical treatment. He is recognised for his real empathy and understanding with clients. He has great skill when it comes to working with experts. John is very experienced at valuing cases and representing claimants at round table meetings.

John encourages solicitors to ring or email to discuss potential cases long before they are ready for formal instructions. In the current funding climate it is important only to pursue cases that have real prospects of success and John is delighted to help in ‘screening’ cases.

There are no hard and fast rules about when a case is suitable for a silk or not. It is not just a question of value but also significance (cases involving deaths for example) and complexity. John is happy to advise informally in conjunction with his clerks as to whether a case merits leading counsel.

For Defendants:

John has great experience of working for the NHSLA and defence organisations. He understands the twin imperatives of keeping down costs/ damages and of explaining advice to clinicians. John has an excellent track record at trial, he is a persuasive advocate and relishes the opportunity to cross-examine experts especially on complex issues and medical literature. He is good at working proactively within a team.

Cases and work of note

John is currently instructed in a large number of complex and high value medical cases. He is known for being able to cut to the heart of a case. He enjoys working with experts on difficult cases and finding a way through. He has real empathy for his clients and understands that, whether patients or clinicians, they would usually rather not be involved in litigation at all.

He is not afraid to take a case to trial and relishes the opportunity to cross-examine experts.Chambers and Partners note that “his cross-examination style has been described as ruthless and meticulous and has clearly led to some impressive successes at trial.”


I became a clinical negligence specialist very much by accident. As a pupil in a common law set in Liverpool I saw a wide range of work but it was the clinical negligence work that I enjoyed the most. The rest of my family are doctors and have been for generations, so it feels familiar territory.

Some barristers tend to act more for one side than the other but I see it as a great advantage to work for both claimants and defendants. It offers a real perspective and a sense of balance. Perhaps more than some other fields clinical negligence litigation is very ‘grown up’ – solicitors and barristers practising in this area are specialists, we all know each other well and are used to working constructively to resolve the issues in all parties’ interests.

“I see it as a great advantage to work for both claimants and defendants. It offers a real perspective and a sense of balance.”

Like all of my colleagues I act in cases arising out of every type of injury or medical discipline. In silk there is inevitably a high proportion of brain injury work, particularly cerebral palsy.

The law never stands still and it is important for lawyers to keep pushing the boundaries. The decision in Bailey v. MoD was very important for claimant lawyers and I anticipate further developments as the courts look at material increase in risk following a breach of duty. The law on nervous shock is very frustrating and I believe causes real injustice, it is important that meritorious nervous shock claims are still pursued. I am very interested in the law of consent – for example in relation to the use of particular products, the choice of treatment and who carries out a particular operation.


John is recommended by both The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners as a leading silk for clinical negligence cases. His clinical negligence editorial includes the following:

“He’s very approachable, great at tactics and skilled in round table meetings and settlement negotiations.”
Chambers & Partners

“Very knowledgeable and he fills his clients with such confidence.”
Chambers & Partners

“His client skills, ability to draw the experts to the key points and negotiating skills make him a standout QC.”
Chambers & Partners

“A brilliant strategic barrister.”
The Legal 500

“A very impressive advocate – he’s incredibly passionate and very persuasive.”
Chambers & Partners

‘An incisive and authoritative barrister who gets directly to the heart of an issue.’
The Legal 500

“John’s advocacy and negotiation skills are excellent. He is one of the best QCs operating in this field.”
Chambers & Partners

“He’s fantastic with clients and works well as a team.”
Chambers & Partners

‘He has great judgement for difficult calls in a case.’
The Legal 500

“An astute tactician who inspires confidence in clients.”
Chambers & Partners

“A highly intelligent, considerate and astute barrister. His knowledge, experience and ability to tackle and explain complex issues with ease is invaluable.”
Chambers & Partners

“Admired in the clinical negligence world for his legal prowess and involvement in high-profile claims. He acts on behalf of defendants and claimants, and is frequently instructed in the most difficult cases”
Chambers & Partners

“It is rare to have the opportunity to work with such a talented and outstanding advocate.”
The Legal 500

“He impresses with his empathy as a person as well as with his legal acumen.”
Chambers & Partners

“He has fantastic interpersonal skills and is brilliant with clients. I could not praise him highly enough.John de Bono is one of the cleverest barristers I’ve ever met on causation. He has a great way of looking at a case from a different angle.”
Chambers & Partners 

“He’s very smart and very tactically focused.”
Chambers & Partners 

“His attention to detail is outstanding and he is a fantastic advocate.”
The Legal 500

“A dream to work with; if only there were more like him at the Bar.”
The Legal 500

One of the elite of London’s clinical negligence-focused juniors. He is highly rated by market sources for the combination of his strong intellect and his approachable nature. He’s an incredibly gutsy fighter, and a great strategist.”
Chambers & Partners 

“Rising star, John de Bono is gaining popularity due to his affability, intelligence and exceptional grasp of all the issues in a case.His cross-examination style has been described as ruthless and meticulous and has clearly led to some impressive successes at trial. One solicitor commented: He is a great tactician, who’s committed and knowledgeable. If you could bottle what he’s got, you would never need another barrister.”
Chambers & Partners 

“John de Bono is widely praised by those that instruct him as an absolute cut above the rest since he can easily carve his way through the most complex issues.One impressed solicitors said that working with him you really feel like you are working in a partnership.”
Chambers & Partners 

“John de Bono acts for both claimants and defendants, and routinely works on prominent, high-value cases.” 
Chambers & Partners 

“…first rate, responsive and a brilliant advocate…”
The Legal 500 


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.

Seminars/ lectures

John enjoys lecturing and contributing to seminars. He set up and runs the annual Serjeants’ Inn & Oxford Neurosurgery Medical Law Conference for claimant and defendant clinical negligence ‘enthusiasts’ which is now in its seventh year.

Other 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
  • Chairing the FFW Brain Injury Conference, St Pancras Hotel, July 2015