5 Unity Street Chambers, Bristol BS1 5HH
0117 906 9789 / 0117 906 9799 (fax)
Year of Call and Inn
1997 Grays Inn
Specialising in Personal Injury, Employment, Civil Fraud and Public / Regulatory Law.
After starting at the Bar with a mixed Criminal and Civil practice, Fergus has gone on to develop a mixed but complimentary practice in Personal Injury, Employment, Civil Fraud and Public / Regulatory Law.
Personal Injury work, broadly split between Claimant and Defendant, with particular emphasis – given his experience and interest in Employment Law – on accidents at work (including industrial disease, vibration and deafness cases) and stress at work claims (and the hinterland between County Court / High Court Personal Injury actions for stress at work and Employment Tribunal claims for bullying and harassment at work).
Fergus has recently been involved in a number of claims arising out of bullying and harassment in the Armed Forces, as well those in negligence for the vicarious liability of local authorities – where allegations of historic sex abuse of children while in their care have been made (at foster and children’s homes, schools, etc.)
Predominantly multi track instructions received, but happy to undertake fast track claims – from initial advice and drafting of pleadings, right through to final disposal, and beyond to appeal where necessary.
Recent Personal Injury cases of interest:
“H” 2019 – High Court stress at work claim, covering allegations of serious and persistent bullying by the Claimant’s bosses leading to a career-ending psychiatric injury.
“C” 2019 – historic sex abuse claim alleging negligence / vicarious liability of a local authority for the actions of the Claimant’s primary school headmaster some 30 years previously.
“D” 2017 – action on behalf of Claimant for lifetime psychiatric injury caused by abuse whilst in foster care as a child. Significant issues of vicarious liability, causation and limitation. Court ruled in the Claimant’s favour on limitation, leading to a significant settlement sum.
“C” 2017 – claim against local police authority for psychiatric injury caused by failure to re-integrate the Claimant after years of undercover assignments.
Fergus’ Employment practice is complimentary to his Personal Injury practice and includes the staple diet of unfair and wrongful dismissal actions, together with all aspects of discrimination (across the gamut of protected characteristics) and harassment, equal pay, whistleblowing, collective and individual redundancies, furloughing, and TUPE Regulations, as well as more general contractual disputes.
Over the years since its inception he has advised in a number of cases where the Equality Act 2010 impacts on and overlaps with other areas of law, such as the provision of social housing and the membership of clubs / associations.
He has been involved in several recent cases exploring the concept and boundaries of associative discrimination.
Fergus undertakes both Claimant and Respondent work; the latter includes representing large organisations such as local authorities and national public bodies. He is happy to provide advice and guidance to individuals or companies of any size, whether that be in relation to internal procedures during employment or post-employment claims, at all judicial levels.
Recent employment cases of interest:
“S” 2020 – associative disability discrimination claim for a Claimant against a major retailer, resting on the applicability of the concepts of that doctrine in both direct and indirect claims of differential treatment.
“E” 2019 – successfully represented local animal rescue organisation in its defence of an action brought following an employee’s dismissal for animal cruelty misconduct.
“B” 2017 – represented public school of national significance in its defence of a multi-dimensional claim by a former teacher, involving allegations of whistleblowing, age and disability discrimination.
“S” 2017 – High Court action involving the employment rights of an employee with learning difficulties in a TUPE situation. Allegations of misrepresentation / negligent misstatement alleged as between the transferor / transferee.
In the past few years, taking particular advantage of his background in Criminal law and the increased willingness of Defendant insurers to fight such claims, he has received regular instructions defending alleged fraudulent road traffic accident claims (staged, contrived, bogus passengers, exaggerated injury, etc.) in particular, and seeking recovery of Defendant’s costs for findings of fundamental dishonesty in the face of QOCs protection.
Public Law / Regulatory
Fergus’ general interest in all matters relating the relationship of the individual and the State has seen his continued involvement in proceedings for Judicial Review and related appearances in the Administrative Court (including actions by members of the Armed Forces seeking declaratory, injunctive and compensatory remedies), as well as Article 2 ECHR-compliant jury Inquests.
He has also represented individuals in appearances before Care Standards Tribunals (such as actions against local authorities and government agencies on behalf of appellants seeking removal from POCA / POVA ‘blacklists’ preventing individuals from working with children or vulnerable adults), and those subject to disciplinary proceedings brought by the GMC, NMC and other medical regulators.
Recent Public law / Regulatory cases of interest:
“M” 2018 – Judicial Review hearing at the Administrative Court concerning the unlawful discharge of a member of the Armed Services.
“O” 2017 – acted for a midwife during the course of disciplinary proceedings brought by the NMC alleging unfitness to practice due to her previous criminal convictions.
“NB” 2013 – Article 2 jury Inquest into the murder of a woman by a prisoner on early-release licence. Several interested parties involved in this high-profile inquest, heard over the course of several weeks.
In a past life, Fergus was a Grade 3 CPS prosecutor with significant Crown Court and Court of Appeal experience, for both prosecution and defence, in trials for offences of manslaughter, serious sexual assaults and corporate fraud.
This background stands him in good stead as an advocate, leading to a robust style of advocacy, which is tempered with appropriate sensitivity and humour when necessary.
Fergus is willing and able to take instructions, in any of the above areas, on a Public Access basis.
Professional Memberships / Qualifications
Employment Lawyers’ Association, Personal Injury Bar Association, Accredited Pupil Supervisor.
Fergus is also a Door Tenant with Park Square Barristers, Leeds.
1995-1996: Inns of Court School of Law
1992-1995: MA Jurisprudence, Oxford University
Interests / Hobbies
Rugby of both codes (currently still playing for Old Bristolians RUFC), Football – watching, playing and coaching (FA qualified), Family and Theatre.