Susan Jones analyses the High Court case of King v Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Foundation Trust  EWHC 1576 in which practitioners are reminded that the threshold for a shocking event is strictly objective in secondary victim claims. The judgment also provides a helpful insight into how damages would have been assessed for an actor who it was claimed was on the verge of a “big break".
Susan accepts instructions in a wide range of personal injury matters and acts for Claimants and Defendants.
Susan regularly attends:
- Costs and Case Management Hearings (CCMCs)
- Interim applications, including relief from sanctions
- Trials involving liability, causation and quantum disputes
- Infant and protected party approval hearings for a wide range of injuries including fatal injuries
- Conciliation hearings
Susan has experience of personal injury claims concerning occupier’s liability, the Highway Act, food poisoning, accidents at work, road traffic accidents, sporting accidents and fatal injuries arising in a wide range of circumstances.
Susan has acted or is currently acting for Defendants in cases in which:
- Fundamental dishonesty is alleged, made out and qualified one-way costs shifting (QOCS) has been disapplied.
- Breach of duty is admitted but causation disputed based on Late Notification, in which following cross examination the Claimant did not make out their case.
- Following discontinuance Defendant costs are pursued based on fundamental dishonesty.
- Arguments have been raised regarding purported discontinuance and strike out has been sought in addition or as an alternative to fundamental dishonesty.
- After trial liability has been made out against one Defendant but not the Defendant Susan represented in which case Susan secured an enforceable Defendant costs order up to the extent of damages awarded.
- Only quantum is disputed but the Claimant has failed to better a Defendant Part 36 offer, with costs consequences.
- A quantum only dispute was allocated to the Fast Track, but Susan successfully argued the claim unreasonably left the Portal resulting in the Claimant being limited to Portal costs with significant cost savings for the Defendant.
- The Claimant’s claim has been struck out for not having a direct cause of action against the Defendant with an enforceable costs order granted.
Susan successfully represented a Claimant in a 5 witness public liability and quantum trial following which the Defendant appealed to the High Court on grounds of procedure and findings of fact. Susan advised on the appeal, drafted a skeleton argument and made oral submission before Mrs Justice Lambert. The Defendant’s appeal was dismissed in its entirety.
Susan represented a Claimant at trial where the Claimant alleged, he burnt his hand while working for the Defendant when required to set fire to sawdust on the Defendants premises. The matter was defended on the basis that the Defendant never employed the Claimant (there was no contract of employment, no evidence of payments and the Claimant did not have a UK work permit) and in any event that the incident did not occur on his premises (there being no accident book entry, or any other record and the incident described was not something tolerated by the Defendant). Following a full day trial, the judge found for the Claimant and heard submissions on quantum for burn injuries.
Susan recently advised a local authority in respect of life long dental treatment required by a child following a liability admitted accident. On behalf of the Defendant Susan attended the approval and informed the Court that the settlement was fair, excluded double counting suggested in the Claimant’s schedule of loss and applied the correct discount rate.
Susan represented a child at an assessment of damages hearing, who sustaining deep facial laceration requiring surgery under general anaesthetic, leaving permanent scarring with a likelihood of further future treatment. The Claimant also suffered post traumatic anxiety that resolved.
Susan provides advice on quantum and attends infant and protected party approval hearings, including for dependents following fatal accidents. She has considered issue relating to hostile litigation friends and matters arising when Defendant's potentially lack capacity in areas of law outside the remit of personal injury.
Susan is happy to draft pleadings and advise on prospects and quantum.
Susan is a member of PIBA and attends their annual March conference.
Susan has experience of appearing in inquests for NHS trusts, mental health Trusts, ambulance trusts, individual medical professional, police forces, local authorities and families.
Susan has dealt with cases in which the determination of the cause of death are complex and involve the assessment of factual evidence and the opinions of a number of experts.
Susan has experience with inquests involving:
- Deaths in custody
- Care homes death
- Hospital deaths, including complications in cardiology and urology procedures, elective surgeries and labour
- Emergency services attendance
- Neonatal deaths
- Sudden Infant Death
- Sudden adult deaths
- Road traffic deaths
- Prescription medication (opioids) related deaths
- Water related deaths
- Workplace deaths
- Article 2 inquests
- Jury inquests
- Multi day inquests
Susan completed a 7-month secondment in the inquest team at Capsticks solicitors during which she prepared cases from receipt of initial instructions and appeared as the advocate at the inquest. Susan continues to build on this area of work.
Baby D: Susan represented an NHS Trust in an inquest concerning a neonatal death with alleged antenatal and neonatal failings surrounding Haemolytic Disease of the New Born. Although the coroner was critical of care provided by the Trust, no causative failings were established.
Susan represented a family in a two-day inquest following the death of a woman with placenta accrete who died post emergency caesarean section as a result of torrential haemorrhage. This inquest involved extensive obstetric evidence from clinicians, an independent obstetrics expert and a pathologist with an interest in maternal death. Evidence considered antenatal reviews, timing of the caesarean section, surgical entry and postoperative care. The coroner made neglect findings.
Re LM-B: Susan appeared on behalf of a Trust providing psychiatric care to a patient who collapsed in the street. Prior to the inquest Susan drafted instructions and questions for a toxicology expert to advise on postmortem redistribution and other factors affecting post mortem blood concentrations of anti-psychic drugs and anti-depressant (clozapin and venflaxin), that according to the post mortem were present after death at toxic and fatal levels. At the inquest Susan questioned the pathologist and expert witness. The coroner returned a natural causes conclusion.
Re CMcL: inquest into the death of a member of hospital staff arising out of a rare but recognised complication during an elective investigatory angiogram. Live evidence was heard from consultant pathologist, consultant cardiologist and registrar.
Re JP: this inquest involving attendance by emergency services and delays at the scene whilst awaiting a bariatric ambulance. Questions were raised about the time taken for the ambulance service to transfer JP to hospital.
Re: AW: in a 5½ day inquest, Susan represented the family of AW who had been an inpatient on a mental health ward, absconded and dead as a result of suspension. Despite previously absconding and a number of self-harm and suicide attempts, AW was not detained under the Mental Health Act. Susan questioned a number of ward staff including the psychiatric consultant and an independent expert on the correct approach to sectioning under the Mental Health Act. As a result of concerns the Coroner made a prevention of future deaths report.
Susan represented in nurse in a week long jury inquest following the death of a mental health inpatient who died of hyponatraemic following excessive water intake. This inquest explored the pathological findings of excessive water intake, any psychological cause for excessive water intake and the response of ward staff upon finding the patient in distress.
Re AH: 7 day jury inquest into the death of a prisoner who received a drugs package into HMP Pentonville, on which he subsequently choked. This inquiry included investigation into prisoner restraint.
Care Home Deaths
Re DB: 4 day inquest into the death of a dementia resident who whilst in care was struck in the face by another dementia resident, involving examination of medical records of a living person to determine if there were any missed opportunities to protect others. Susan advised on disclosure of the records of a living person who lacked capacity and made submissions to the coroner in respect of disclosure.
Re NMcL: 5-day inquest into the death of an elderly care home resident suffering with dementia after falling from a chair and sustaining a fractured neck of femur. This matter went part heard at which point Susan succeed in getting her client’s status demoted to an interested person on the basis of “sufficient interest” only.
Local Authority Related Deaths
Susan has appeared for various Local Authorities in inquests concerning:
- Death following a tree falling into a vehicle on the highway
- Deaths following highway related trips
- Deaths concerning Local Authority funded care home placements
- The death of a 3-week-old baby, considering co-sleeping and whether the actions of social services and other agencies were appropriate. In evidence Susan explored the rationale behind the approach taken by social services and the frequency of their interactions with other agencies. A conclusion of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (co-sleeping) was returned and in respect of prevention of further death reports, the coroner indicated that the evidence clarified the multi-agency approach was appropriate and a PFD report was unnecessary.
Water Related Deaths
In an 8-day jury inquest Susan represented a novice jet skier involved in a fatal collision resulting in the death of an experienced jet skier. The inquest involved complex factual and expert evidence, including expert evidence regarding water collision reconstruction and medical causation. The Coroner requested submissions on the appropriateness of leaving unlawful killing to the jury.
In a 12 day, article 2, jury inquest Susan represented a police force following the deceased having been recently discharged from a mental health ward and on the day of death telephoning mental health services reporting an intention to drive or jump onto a river, following which mental health services called the Police call centre. In addition to considering the appropriateness of mental health care this inquest explored communication between mental health services and police, police call grading, application of the police national decision-making model, communication between the police call handling centre and force control room and police conduct at the riverside.
Susan represented a beach manager following the drowning of a young man, at which the inquest explored adequacy of signage and personal rescue equipment and whether these were in accordance with Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) Guidelines for coastal public rescue equipment.
Susan represented a marine insurer at an inquest arising from death as a result of a fire on a houseboat in which fire reconstruction evidence was required.
Susan has attended the following inquest seminars:
- 'The Coroner’s and Justice Act 2 years on'
- 'The Coroner’s Inquest some current dilemmas'
- His Honour Judge Mark Lucraft QC, Chief Coroner, address to the 2018 PIBA conference.
Event witnessed by father was not objectively shocking and horrifying23rd Jun 2021
A talented barrister who is highly skilled in sensitive matters examining deaths occurring in various circumstances, including where there are allegations of medical negligence. Her practice touches on complex issues such as mental health.
Strengths: "She is phenomenal: the technicality and the expertise that she shows in inquests is incredible. She has superb attention to detail and she would be my first choice for any inquest."
Recent work: Instructed to represent family members at the inquest into the death of Elena Mondal. This matter examined the suicide of the teenager in her school and the adequacy of communication between the mental health services, school and NHS trust.
Chambers UK 2021/Inquests and Public Inquiries - The Regions (Bar) - Band 2
‘Hardworking, focused and displays a maturity of approach beyond her year of call. Her personable approach puts clients at ease while reassuring them they are in safe hands. She also secures impressive results.’
Legal 500 2021/Inquests and Inquiries/Leading Juniors/Tier 4/London
“May I personally record my admiration of Susan Jones performance before Mrs Justice Lambert. I sat behind her as a solicitor with 25 years post qualification experience and witnessed a rising star. She stood her ground against Mrs Justice Lambert’s initially strident view that the judge below had reached a wrong decision on the facts and gently set out in a highly effective, forensic way how the judge’s opinion below should not be interfered with…...High Court Judges don’t mess around, neither did Susan" (Instructing solicitor in Susan Jones successfully opposition of High Court Appeal challenging both Procedural Matters and Findings of Fact)
“Speed and uptake was impressive to say the least, as was her energy and the commitment she made. Since this first encounter, we have sought to use her whenever possible. Having sat next to her I can say that she is an accomplished advocate with a compelling style of advocacy” (Partner, instructing and attending a 3 day hearing)
“Our client is very happy with the outcome and I would certainly not hesitate to use Miss Susan Jones in the future or recommend her to my colleagues”. (Solicitor)
“Thank you for your advice which is both thorough and lucid of its analysis of the case” (Associate Solicitor)
“Miss Jones was extremely helpful and professional. I do not see how we could have done any more to better present my case” (Lay Client)
- Queen’s University Belfast (LLB: First, Top in Year)
- City University Law School (Bar Professional Training Course: Outstanding)
- BPTC scholarship
- Sweet and Maxwell Prize - most distinguished student in LLB final examinations
- Queen’s University Belfast awards for:
- Jurisprudence and political economics
- Contract law
- Trademarks and unfair competition
Professional qualifications & appointments
- Direct/Public access qualified
- Bar Council Western Circuit Junior Representative
- Bar Council Ethics Committee
- Personal Injury Bar Association
- Association of Regulatory & Disciplinary Lawyers
- Bar Pro Bono Unit
Susan Jones is qualified to accept instructions directly from members of the public and professional clients under the Direct Public Access scheme.More Information