Rachael secures neglect finding for family in neonatal death inquest. Read more about the case here.
“Rachael’s knowledge and expertise has been invaluable in assisting not only us, but most importantly the client, in obtaining answers to questions during the inquest process.”
Experience & Expertise
Rachael is regularly instructed in complex, multi-week inquests as sole counsel. She has particular experience in deaths in custody and is familiar with Prison Service Orders and Prison Service Instructions governing prison healthcare and safer custody. Rachael has a particular interest in mental health cases, either in the community or of detained patients.
Rachael is also regularly instructed by bereaved families following unexpected neonatal deaths.
She is well-versed in Article 2 ECHR, and regularly drafts written submissions on the operational duty and systems failures.
Rachael is always eager to hold conferences with clients before an inquest in order to explain the coronial process, to discuss the scope of an inquest and to ensure that clients feel at ease and understand what is going to happen in court.
Rachael’s experience in civil litigation means that she is well-placed to advise on civil claims arising following inquest, either in negligence or under the Fatal Accidents Act or Human Rights Act.
- Inquest into the death of Baby Aisha Cleary (2023). Rachael appeared as sole counsel for the London Borough of Camden in this inquest into the death of a baby at Bronzefield prison. The case was of significant national concern. It was reported in the BBC, the Guardian, and the Independent. No causative failures were identified in respect of Camden.
- Inquest into the death of Baby JN (2023). Rachael appeared at short notice in this inquest concerning the death of baby who was given an accidental morphine overdose.
- Inquest into the death of LS (2023). Rachael was instructed in this two-week jury inquest concerning a death in custody by suicide.
- Inquest into the death of MP (2022). Rachael appeared on behalf of the local authority following the death of a vulnerable elderly lady from pressure sores. It was found that private carers had failed to attend MP and had falsified records.
- Inquest into the death of KH (2022). Rachael appeared on behalf of KH’s family, following his death by suicide at home. KH had been open to mental health services. Rachael later settled the civil claim on behalf of the family.
- Inquest into the death of EL (2022). Rachael appeared on behalf of EL’s family in this case concerning EL’s death from a subarachnoid haemorrhage after she fell from her hospital bed. Rachael later settled the civil claim brought on behalf of the estate for substantial damages.
- Inquest into the death of ON (2021). Rachael was instructed as sole counsel in this five-week inquest concerning the suicide of a 14-year-old in the community, after involvement with mental health services.
- Inquest into the death of CK (2021). Rachael was instructed in this five-day inquest concerning mental health care and treatment, and in particular, perinatal mental health care, following the suicide of a young mother soon after giving birth.
- Inquest into the death of NC (2021). Rachael appeared as sole counsel in this three-week jury inquest concerning issues of mental health care and treatment, substance misuse, in circumstances where the deceased died very soon after her release from custody.
- Inquest into the death of Baby S-H (2021). Rachael appeared for the family of Baby S-H who died shortly after his birth. The Coroner returned a narrative conclusion that Baby SH’s death was “contributed to by neglect.” In the summing up, the Coroner expressed his view that this was “a wholly preventable death.” Read more here.
Court of Protection
Rachael regularly appears in the Court of Protection in health and welfare proceedings. She is extremely well-versed in applications under Section 21A and Section 16 Mental Capacity Act 2005. She also has experience in medical treatment cases and this is an area of practice that she is keen to develop further.
Rachael is often instructed at very short notice for urgent hearings. Rachael has been instructed in a number of urgent cases concerning young people who are deprived of the liberty in hospital, pending the identification of any suitable community placement for them – an issue which has been described as being “of serious national concern” by the Court of Appeal.
She is instructed on behalf of ‘P’ (the individual who may lack capacity in proceedings) via the Official Solicitor or other litigation friends, as well as by P’s family members, local authorities, Integrated Care Boards and NHS Trusts.
Rachael also accepts instructions in property and affairs cases and has been instructed by the Office of the Public Guardian.
Rachael worked with Nageena Khalique KC on the fourth edition of the textbook ‘Medical Treatment: Decisions and the Law’ and drafted the chapters on (i) religious objections to treatment and (ii) adults lacking capacity.
- Re MA (ongoing). Instructed by the Official Solicitor of behalf of P. Case concerning contact between a married couple, both with dementia, where the local authority seeks to end all contact between them by any means, for the rest of their lives.
- Re IA (2023). Rachael appeared on behalf of P in these long running welfare proceedings. P had been incorrectly treated as bed bound and had not accessed the community for over two years. The local authority initially refused to provide P with a wheelchair, deeming him ineligible for this. At the end of proceedings, P’s quality of life had been significantly improved. P was provided with a wheelchair, was accessing the community and engaging in activities inside the care home.
- Re LCC (2023). Led by Nageena Khalique KC. Case concerning a 13-year-old girl presenting with extreme emotional dysregulation and engaging in serious self-harm and attempts to end her life. LCC was deprived of her liberty in hospital in highly restrictive circumstances as no safe local authority placement could be identified.
- Re BB (2023). Case concerning whether P, who had a cognitive impairment, should be required to undergo dialysis for kidney failure in circumstances where he was objecting to his treatment.
- Re AE (2023). Case concerning a return home for P to Dominica, which included reports by an expert on Dominican law.
- Re HJ (2023). Rachael acted in three urgent hearings concerning HJ, who was about to turn 18 and was deprived of his liberty in hospital, with no medical need to be there. HJ had previously been detained under the Mental Health Act. The relevant local authority was refusing to fund care for HJ in hospital pending identification of a suitable placement for him in the community.
- Re GG (2023). Case under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court concerning a ten-year-old boy with ADHD, attachment difficulties and possible autism who was deprived of his liberty on a hospital ward pending identification of any suitable community placement identified for him.
- Re IK (2023). Case concerning whether P, who had learning disabilities, should receive vaccinations against Covid-19 and influenza in circumstances where his family objected to vaccination.
- Re MC (2022). Case concerning suitable placement options for P where there were concerns about her ability to keep herself safe owing to her hoarding disorder and safeguarding.
- Re LW (2021). Case concerning a return home for P to St Vincent’s and the Grenadines.
- Re LF (2021). Rachael acted on behalf of P’s family and successfully persuaded the court to allow a trial of home visits, despite this being contested by both the Local Authority and the Official Solicitor on behalf of P.
Clinical Negligence and civil claims
Rachael also practices extensively in clinical negligence and civil claims. She has experience both bringing and defending claims in negligence, under the Human Rights Act (Article 2, Article 3, Article 5, Article 8 and Article 14), and in claims against the police, or arising out of protest action.
In 2022, Rachael appeared in the High Court in Traylor v Kent and Medway  EWHC 260 (QB), led by Sebastian Naughton. The Court considered (amongst other issues) whether the doctrine of illegality prevented a Claimant found not guilty by reason of insanity from bringing a claim for damages under the civil law. Read more here.
During pupillage, Rachael was supervised by two clinical negligence specialists, Sebastian Naughton and Clare Hennessy, where Rachael was able to develop her understanding of complex claims including brain injuries, cauda equina syndrome, neonatal deaths and delayed diagnosis of cancer.
Rachael also has particular experience in civil claims arising from breaches of the Human Rights Act and personal injury claims, especially claims brought by those lacking capacity, protected parties or victims of historic child sex abuse.
In the clinical negligence context, she has experience drafting:
- Particulars of Claim and Defences in clinical and dental negligence cases, including those involving complex conditions, issues of causation and delays in treatment;
- An interim payment application for a high-value clinical negligence claim in which the Claimant successfully obtained a £500,000 interim payment;
- Skeleton arguments for trial;
- Expert agendas in complex clinical negligence cases;
- Advices on liability and quantum;
- Confidential advices on settlement for court where proceedings concerning a child or protected party have concluded;
- Schedules of Loss and Counter Schedules, including in multi-million pound claims.
Rachael has a particular interest in public law and judicial review, especially in relation to her existing practice areas.
She has experience drafting Statements of Facts and Grounds for judicial review, as well as pre-action correspondence in anticipated proceedings for judicial review.
She also has experience advising in age assessment cases where the age of an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child or young person is in dispute.
Police law and regulatory
Rachael has acted for the Appropriate Authority, prosecuting police misconduct, in a large number of cases, after which all officers were dismissed for gross misconduct.
Rachael has also acted on behalf of the Bar Standards Board in a number of cases brought against barristers, including in an appeal in the High Court:
- BSB v AR (2023). (First instance and High Court appeal)
- BSB v SB (2023).
- BSB v MB (2023).
- BSB v GS (2022).
Rachael has also defended in GMC proceedings, where a recent client wrote:
“I was so impressed by Rachael during my recent fitness to practice hearing. I found her to be professional and thorough in her preparation, but also friendly and approachable. In court, she spoke eloquently and persuasively and she was crucial in a successful outcome. I will be eternally grateful.”
Pro Bono Work
Rachael is committed to pro bono work and undertook 120 hours of pro bono work in 2022-2023.
She also completed the ‘25 for 25’ Challenge through Advocate and has represented clients via the Free Representation Unit. Pro Bono cases of note include:
Re KS (2023 – First-tier Tribunal). Rachael brought a successful appeal on behalf of a victim of serious domestic violence in her criminal injuries compensation, who suffered ongoing PTSD.
Re AS (2020 – First-tier Tribunal). Rachael brought a successful appeal on behalf of the appellant who sustained a brain injury following a violent assault.
Prior to the Bar
Before joining Chambers, Rachael was a casework volunteer at the Bar Pro Bono Unit. She also taught debating and held workshops with prisoners in HMP Pentonville.
Before the Bar, Rachael worked in diversity and inclusion and social mobility research in both the public and private sectors.
Rachael first worked as a manager at an organisation that helped students from ethnic minority and social mobility backgrounds to gain access to top graduate jobs. Rachael managed client relationships with the Civil Service Fast Stream, GCHQ and Teach First, worked as a job coach with candidates and developed unconscious bias training materials. She held coaching sessions with over 500 students who successfully went to receive offers for the Civil Service Fast Stream or its related diversity internship schemes.
Rachael was later employed as a manager at the Judicial Appointments Commission (‘JAC’) working on judicial diversity policy and the development of fair selection exercise materials. She delivered outreach presentations to lawyers throughout England and Wales, working to encourage more ethnic minority lawyers, women and lawyers with disabilities to consider judicial appointment. Rachael also provided Secretariat support to the Judicial Diversity Forum – a quarterly meeting between the JAC, the Lord Chief Justice, the Lord Chancellor and representatives from the legal profession.
Rachael remains passionate about diversity, inclusion and social mobility.
• Bachelor of Laws (Hons), University of Cambridge – First Class Honours
• Bar Professional Training Course, BPP University Law School – Very Competent
PRIZES, SCHOLARSHIPS & ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS
• Prince of Wales Scholarship, Gray’s Inn – Rachael was awarded a Scholarship to fund the cost of the BPTC.
• Rosemary Murray Scholarship, University of Cambridge – Scholarship awarded for obtaining a first class degree result
Rachael co-authored chapter three: Deciding for Others – Adults and chapter fourteen: Religious Observance and Objections to Treatment in the fourth edition of the book Medical Treatment: Decisions and the Law, edited by Christopher Johnston KC and Sophia Roper KC written by 27 Members of Chambers.
- More Data on Death
- Insanity should not be equated with Illegality
- Correlation does not imply causation
- How long can the police hold data about a person allegedly vulnerable to radicalisation?
- The perils of fast-tracked documentary inquests
- Altruistic stem cell donation by a person lacking capacity
- Data on Death
Rachael has recently reported on the following cases for the Medical Law Reports:
- R (Morahan) v His Majesty’s Assistant Coroner  EWCA Civ 1410
- R(Professor Paul Taggart) v The Royal College of Surgeons of England  EWHC 1141 (Admin)
- Watson v Lancashire  EWHC 148 (QB)
- Aderounmu v Colvin  EWHC 2293 (QB)  Med LR 616 Clinical negligence – Capacity – Protected party – Limitation.
- Ismail v Joyce  EWHC 3453 (QB)  Med LR 232 Clinical negligence – Breach of duty – Witness evidence.
• Court of Protection Bar Association
• Professional Negligence Bar Association
• Young Legal Aid Lawyers’ Association
• Free Representation Unit
• Advocate (formerly the Bar Pro Bono Unit)
Rachael adopts and adheres to the provisions of her privacy notice which can be accessed here.
For further details of Rachael’s practice, please contact a member of the clerking or client service team.
Bar Council Membership No: 72449
Registered Name: Rachael Louise Gourley