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, Clinical Negligence, Employment 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, Clinical Negligence, Employment and Public / Regulatory Law.
Personal Injury / Clinical Negligence
Personal injury work, broadly split between Claimant and Defendant, with particular emphasis on accidents at work given his experience in the employment law field (including industrial disease, vibration and deafness cases, as well as stress at work claims). Fergus has recently been involved in a number of claims arising out of bullying and harassment in the Armed Forces.
In the past few years, using his background in personal injury and criminal law, he has received regular instructions defending alleged fraudulent accident claims (staged, contrived, bogus passengers, etc.).
Clinical negligence claims, predominantly Claimant work, covering all aspects of medical care, treatment and surgical procedures.
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 / clinical negligence cases of interest:
‘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.
‘C’ (2017) – claim against local police authority for psychiatric injury caused by failure to re-integrate the Claimant after years of undercover assignments.
‘S’ (2015) – acted for golf professional whose career had been shortened by injuries caused in a serious RTA. Significant six-figure claim, with complex causation and future loss issues.
‘J and others’ (2015) – allegations of fraud (staged accident) against two drivers and their passengers (some of whom were bogus) all proved when acting for the Defendant insurer.
‘K’ (2015) – a case dealing with the issue of causation of injuries and the liability of the Defendant where an alcoholic Claimant is involved. Liability turned on the issue of the balance to be struck between the ‘egg-shell skull’ rule and where the Claimant has voluntarily refused treatment.
VH (2015) – acted for dog-walker who suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung when she was attacked by cows. Claim under the Animals Act, turning on the characteristics of cattle and the knowledge of their keeper of those characteristics.
Fergus’ employment practice includes the staple diet of unfair and wrongful dismissal actions, together with all aspects of discrimination, equal pay, whistleblowing, collective redundancies 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.
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’ (2016) – 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.
‘L’ (2016) – EAT case concerning the question of causation and unfavourable treatment / detriment under s.15 Equality Act 2010.
‘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.
‘OE’ (2015) – acted for the Claimant in his race discrimination and harassment claim against a prominent local employer. Case turned on the issue of intention / motives in the use of words / behaviour of a senior employee of the Respondent.
‘M’ (2014) – six-figure claim, involving a substantial number of alleged incidents over the course of several years, for disability discrimination and harassment against a regional police authority.
Public / 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), as well as disciplinary proceedings brought by the GMC, NMC and other medical regulators.
Recent public / regulatory cases of interest:
‘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.
‘M’ (2016) – judicial review hearing at the Administrative Court concerning the unlawful discharge of a member of the Armed Services.
‘O’ (2016) – acted for midwife during the course of disciplinary proceedings brought by the NMC alleging unfitness to practice due to her previous criminal convictions.
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 cases including those involving 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 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.
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 Vets XV), Football and Theatre.