Susanna Rickard

Call 2009

Overview

Susanna is an extremely experienced inquest advocate, regularly representing organisations and other Interested Persons at inquests, including longer jury inquests and article 2 inquests. She is frequently instructed by clients that include private care providers, NHS entities, local authorities and medical defence organisations. Clients like working with Susanna for her calm, experienced approach, and NHS and local authority clients particularly value her knowledge of the health & social care sectors, gained through years of experience acting for these clients in other forums and the coronial jurisdiction. Clients often comment on how well-prepared they feel having had the benefit of her input beforehand. She is experienced at teasing out conflicts between witnesses, and in ensuring that issues which could cause difficulty down the line are fully explored in advance of the inquest, enabling the client’s evidence to be as well presented as possible. As well as core inquest work, Susanna is experienced in related coronial law matters including judicial review of coronial decisions, disputes concerning the disposal of bodies and s.13 cases (concerning applications for fresh inquests). Susanna has been instructed in major public inquiries including the Infected Blood Inquiry, and the forthcoming inquiry into the Covid-19 pandemic.

Inquests & Inquiries

“She punches above her weight and has real poise such as is rarely seen in someone of her call.”
Chambers & Partners

Susanna is a contributor to the third edition of Medical Treatment: Decisions and the Law (edited by Christopher Johnston QC).

EXPERIENCE & expertise

Susanna’s recent work includes:

Coroner’s unlawful comments struck from record
R (Dr S) v HM Senior Coroner (Yorkshire North East area)
At the end of a lengthy inquest the coroner made unjustified criticisms of a young doctor’s conduct.  He found she had broken the arm of an elderly lady whilst taking bloods, but then went further and, without warning, called her a liar.  This triggered the doctor’s duty to self-refer to the General Medical Council. Susanna advised on and acted in judicial review proceedings brought by the doctor against the coroner.  Permission was granted and the coroner eventually conceded that his comments had been unlawful, being outside the scope of what he was entitled to find and contrary to the requirements of natural justice.  The family objected to the claim, but the Administrative Court agreed with the case as pleaded and struck the coroner’s comments from the record.

Inquest exposes insufficient safeguards for ‘electric shock therapy’
2016 instruction for the Official Solicitor
An elderly woman with serious, long-term mental health problems died after the administration of electro-convulsive therapy. The medical and expert evidence was clear that the treatment had been appropriately administered. However, it also exposed serious shortcomings in the national availability of ‘Second Opinion Authorised Doctors’.  Such doctors provide a safeguarding role, under the Mental Health Act 1983, against the inappropriate use of ECT.  In response to concerns raised by the Official Solicitor, the coroner made a Regulation 28 ‘Prevention of Future Deaths’ report directed at the Department of Health. The Department has responded, setting out steps that are being taken to improve the system.