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Background

John Coughlan KC

Head of Clinical Negligence

Call: 1999 | Silk: 2021

"John’s strengths are his attention to detail, practical advice, and view of the bigger picture. He is a fantastic advocate, calm and measured whilst getting his points across skillfully. He is also very good with witnesses, putting them at ease and very approachable. Overall, he is a very safe pair of hands."

Legal 500 2023 - Clinical Negligence

"He is responsive, meticulous in his written work and unflappable in court."

Chambers UK 2022 - Clinical Negligence

"Fantastic level of attention to detail, excellent client care skills and sublime advocacy skills at Trial or hearing. One of the best in his field."

Legal 500 2022 - Clinical Negligence

"A very insightful barrister - he is calm, measured and gets to the heart of issues quickly." "An undoubted talent. His advice is first-class and he can be relied upon to produce the very best results possible, regardless of value and complexity. He is an extremely talented advocate and his attention to detail is second to none."

Chambers UK 2021 - Clinical Negligence

"A formidable advocate with razor-sharp knowledge and excellent client care skills with catastrophically injured clients."

Legal 500 2021 - Clinical Negligence

John Coughlan KC is a leading practitioner in the fields of clinical negligence and personal injury, acting for seriously injured Claimants, Defendant Trusts (NHS Resolution), medical indemnity providers and insurers.

John has forged his career and is regularly instructed in cases at the cutting edge of evolving law, including wrongful birth, IVF accidents, secondary victims, consent, material contribution and heavy quantum issues including periodical payments, accommodation and statutory funding.

John is often instructed to advise in cases where serious accidental injury has been followed and worsened by inadequate medical treatment. He is noted for his Trial experience and willingness to take on challenging cases.

Heavy serious injury cases and complex clin neg claims require adept expert witness handling, sensitive client care (injured Claimant and clinician witnesses alike) and close teamwork with the solicitor client. John is regularly commended in these regards and has for many years enjoyed Top Ranked (Chambers UK Bar) and Leading Individual Tier 1 / Leading Silk (Legal 500) status.

John prides himself on his approachability, sensitivity, directness and attention to detail.

John is Head of the Clinical Negligence Group and Director of Recruitment for No5. He is also co- Director of Advocacy Training for the Midland Circuit and an advocacy trainer for the Middle Temple.

Expertise

Clinical Negligence

John is Head of the Clinical Negligence Group at No5 and a senior member of the Personal Injury Group.

As a junior, John forged a reputation as a fearless and fierce Trial advocate and sensible compassionate negotiator in cases that require settlement. His practice encompassed all aspects of clinical negligence work. He extols the virtue of seeing both sides of these cases: Claimants (and their families) whose lives are profoundly altered by their injury, and clinicians who are facing criticism that no professional person would ever wish to endure.

In silk, John accepts instructions in cases involving injuries of the utmost severity, principally those affecting brain and spine, amputation and serious psychiatric injury.

These cases require a detailed understanding of the interface between medicine and law, particularly in relation to causation and insight into the needs of a seriously injured Claimant.

John welcomes instructions at the earliest stages of these complex cases, whether for Claimant or Defendant, and has wide experience and appreciation of the benefits of rehabilitation and collaboration in bringing these cases to conclusion.

John is consistently recommended in the directories and has for several years achieved Top Ranked status from Chambers UK Bar and Leading Individual Tier 1 status from Legal 500.

Amputation

John welcomes the specific challenges presented in amputation cases, often made more complex by a background of complex pre-existing injury, vascular disease and diabetes.

John regularly acts in cases involving heavy care regimes, accommodation issues, periodical payments and issues of statutory funding.

These cases often require a detailed understanding of the interface between medicine and law, particularly in relation to causation and insight into the needs of a seriously injured Claimant.

John welcomes instructions at the earliest stages of these serious injury cases, whether for Claimant or Defendant, and has wide experience and appreciation of the benefits of rehabilitation and collaboration in bringing these complex cases to conclusion.

John is consistently recommended in the directories and has for several years achieved Top Ranked status from Chambers UK Bar and Leading Individual Tier 1 status from Legal 500.

Brain Injury & Cerebral Palsy

John’s practice has long involved cases of the utmost severity arising from obstetric, paediatric and adult acquired brain injury. John’s current workload includes many birth injury claims of very high value, and has recent experience of complex claims involving stroke, neurosurgical and anaesthetic error, and delays in treatment resulting in worsened outcome.

These cases require a detailed understanding and analysis of the mechanisms of brain injury and insight into the needs of a seriously injured Claimant. John welcomes instructions at the earliest stages of these complex cases, whether for Claimant or Defendant, and has wide experience and appreciation of the benefits of rehabilitation and collaboration in bringing these complex cases to conclusion.

Cancer

John’s practice has long involved cases involving delayed diagnosis of cancer, one of the most devastating of all medical mistakes. In such cases, the focus is often on causation and likely outcome in the presence of reasonable care, requiring sensitive and adept handling of expert witnesses and client care.

These cases require a detailed understanding and analysis of the mechanisms of brain injury and insight into the needs of a seriously injured Claimant. John welcomes instructions at the earliest stages of these complex cases, whether for Claimant or Defendant, and has wide experience and appreciation of the benefits of rehabilitation and collaboration in bringing these complex cases to conclusion.

Gynaecology & Obstetrics

John has wide experience of claims arising from obstetric and gynaecological failures across the full spectrum of value. These claims are often sensitive, personal and tragic in nature.

John’s current workload includes many such cases including shoulder dystocia/BPI, wrongful birth, stillbirth giving rise to serious psychiatric injury, PPH and endocrine consequences and severe maternal bladder and pelvic injury.

John welcomes instructions at the earliest stages of these complex cases, whether for Claimant or Defendant, and has wide experience and appreciation of the benefits of rehabilitation and collaboration in bringing these complex cases to conclusion.

Medical / Surgical

John has worked over the years on countless cases involving failures in GP care, and a wide range of medical errors including prescription errors, errors in paramedic and A&E assessment, missed diabetic conditions and mismanagement of diabetic complications, failures to assess and investigate early signs of cardiac and respiratory complications, failures to act on signs of sepsis, ophthalmology failures and failures in psychiatric care.

John’s surgical cases have involved failures to admit or refer for surgical opinion, inappropriate and wrong- level surgery, surgical mishap, failures to diagnose post-operative infection, radiology failures and cases involving issues of informed consent.

John’s current workload includes many such cases with devastating outcomes.

John welcomes instructions at the earliest stages of these complex cases, whether for Claimant or Defendant, and has wide experience and appreciation of the benefits of rehabilitation and collaboration in bringing these complex cases to conclusion.

Spinal Injury

In both his Serious Injury and Clinical Negligence practice, John has extensive experience of litigating spinal injury claims.

Alongside his catastrophic traumatic injury caseload, these cases include failures to diagnose or manage cauda equina syndrome, inappropriate and wrong-level surgery, failures to diagnose spinal infection, radiology failures and cases involving issues of informed consent.

John’s current workload includes many such cases with devastating outcomes.

John welcomes instructions at the earliest stages of these complex cases, whether for Claimant or Defendant, and has wide experience and appreciation of the benefits of rehabilitation and collaboration in bringing these complex cases to conclusion.

Notable Clinical Negligence Cases


DF v SWHNHSFT [January 2024]

Acting for Defendant in fatal clin neg claim arising from failures in management of a nurse’s cardiac symptoms, settled pre-litigation in JSM for £1m.


KP v JPUH [December 2023]

Acting for Claimant adult brain injury claim arising from over-rapid correction of sodium levels. Settlement achieved shortly after JSM at £1m.


GK v UHB & anr [December 2023]

Acting for Defendant Trust in mixed PI/CN case, negotiating 50/50 split in £multi-million case.


LB v L&GNHST [September 2023]

Acting for Defendant Trust in case of severe psychiatric injury arising from maternal birth injury, settling at JSM for £1.5m.


RW v DP & ors [August 2023]

Cauda equina case against GP, liability denied, settled for £610,000.


DR v SWNHSFT [July 2023]

Acting for Claimant in liability contested case involving loss of 90% bowel from congenital volvulus. R£590k plus provisional damages against further bowel loss.


CB v SWBNHSFT [July 2023]

Giant cell arteritis case settled for £750,000.


IW v WSNHSFT [June 2023]

Acting for Claimant in this important case determining whether and when it is reasonable to require a Claimant to undergo genetic testing in order to progress the claim.


AR v STNHSFT [April 2023]

Obstetric brain injury case settled for £3.3m plus PPOs £110k, acting for Claimant.


VJ v HDUHB [January 2023]

Serious spinal abscess case arising from mismanagement, acting for Claimant. Resisted late attempt to resile from admission and case settled shortly afterwards for £1.5m plus PPOs £400k.


DR v C&VUHB [October 2022]

Hypoxic brain injury following mismanaged cardiac arrest, acting for Claimant, settled for £950 plus PPOs £62,500.


FS v UHBNHSFT [September 2022]

Acting for Defendant Trust throughout and at Trial, successfully defending allegations of substandard epidural care resulting in life-changing spinal injury.


MA v GR [August 2022]

Acting for Claimant in GP testicular cancer delay case, settled at JSM for £1.1m.


JL v NNUNHSFT [July 2022]

Acting for Claimant in hypoxic brain injury suffered after suicide attempt, settled at JSM for £1m.


VR v BCHNHSFT [April 2022]

Acting for Defendant Trust throughout and at Trial, successfully defending claim arising from stillbirth causing severe psychiatric injury.


PF v WSNHSFT [December 2021]

Acting for Claimant in missed volvulus case causing collapse and devastating hypoxic brain injury, settled at JSM for £1.025m plus PPOs £275k.


AM v NNUHNHSFT [March 2021]

Acting for Claimant in stroke case settled for £1.4m.


IB v SWBNHST [September 2020]

Acting for Defendant against silk and junior opponents in liability admitted claim arising from failures in correcting sodium levels, resulting in central pontine myelinolysis and very substantial disability. Settlement achieved at £2.6m shortly after mediation in context of evolving law in relation to accommodation claims.


CW v UHNMNHST [April 2020]

cting for Defendant in case involving above knee amputation arising from admitted failures to intervene in vascular disease. £1m settlement at JSM.


AP v UHBNHST & ors [Dec 2019]

Acting for Claimant in successful nine-day High Court Trial against Silk and Junior opponents in claim arising from failure to manage signs and symptoms of duodenal ulcer that went on to perforate. Complex issues of law and fact in relation to GP and specialist clinician breach of duty and causation.


Re MD [July 2019]

Appearing at Inquest for family of toddler negligently and neglectfully misclassified by NHS 111 systems who died of a twisted bowel.


CL v BJS [February 2019]

Acting for Claimant who suffered meningitis as an infant allowed to go unchecked by his GP. Life-altering consequences involving multiplie peripheral surgeries and leg amputation in mid-teens. Settled shortly after JSM in context of discount rate change for damages of £2.5m.


MR v Whittington Health NHST (January 2019)

Successfully defended High Court Trial for Trust alleged to have inserted intra-uterine contraceptive coil without Claimant’s consent.


JM v (1) Utopia Bathrooms (2) University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (3) GA (4) Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust (February 2018)

Acting for two Defendant Trusts in a mixed personal injury and clinical negligence claim, concluded at mediation for gross damages of 950,000.


MD v Norfolk and Norwich NHS Trust (January 2018)

Acting for the family of a detained psychiatric patient who died from pulmonary embolism contributed to by immobility and dehydration, where there had been delays in instituting proper fluids and medical management. Appearing at Inquest and subsequently acting through to settlement at JSM for damages of 600,000.


SL v (1) Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (2) University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust [2017] EWHC 1900

Acting for both Defendant Trusts throughout and at Trial, successfully defended a claim arising from arm amputation following cardiac surgery. The Claimant criticised several periods of delay in returning her to theatre and the quality of surgery when she arrived. Likely value in excess of 1m had the claim succeeded.


Carver v BAA [2008] EWCA Civ 412

Appearing below and in the Court of Appeal in controversial case relating to Part 36 Offers.


Collins v Tesco [2003] EWCA Civ 1308

Court of Appeal guidance in relation to the approach to knowledge under Limitation Act 1980 s.14.


Personal Injury

John is Head of the Clinical Negligence Group at No.5 and a senior member of the Personal Injury Group.

As a junior, John forged a reputation as a fearless and fierce Trial advocate and sensible compassionate negotiator in cases that require settlement. His practice encompassed all aspects of personal injury work.

In silk, John accepts instructions in cases involving injuries of the utmost severity, principally those affecting brain and spine, amputation and serious psychiatric injury. He has handled group litigation and is often instructed in cases involving multiple Defendants, where he is skilled at exploring and distilling complex issues of causation and quantum.

John regularly acts in cases involving heavy care regimes, accommodation issues, periodical payments and issues of statutory funding. John is also heavily instructed in high value Fatal Accidents Act cases.

These cases often require a detailed understanding of the interface between medicine and law, particularly in relation to causation and insight into the needs of a seriously injured Claimant.

John welcomes instructions at the earliest stages of these serious injury cases, whether for Claimant or Defendant, and has wide experience and appreciation of the benefits of rehabilitation and collaboration in bringing these complex cases to conclusion.

John is consistently recommended in the directories and has for several years achieved Top Ranked status from Chambers UK Bar and Leading Individual Tier 1 status from Legal 500.

Catastrophic Injury

John’s Personal Injury practice is now devoted to cases of the utmost severity, principally brain and spinal injury, amputation and serious psychiatric injury.

He has handled group litigation and is often instructed in cases involving multiple Defendants, where he is skilled at exploring and distilling complex issues of causation and quantum.

John regularly acts in cases involving heavy care regimes, accommodation issues, periodical payments and issues of statutory funding. John is also heavily instructed in high value Fatal Accidents Act cases.

These cases often require a detailed understanding of the interface between medicine and law, particularly in relation to causation and insight into the needs of a seriously injured Claimant.

John welcomes instructions at the earliest stages of these serious injury cases, whether for Claimant or Defendant, and has wide experience and appreciation of the benefits of rehabilitation and collaboration in bringing these complex cases to conclusion.

John is consistently recommended in the directories and has for several years achieved Top Ranked status from Chambers UK Bar and Leading Individual Tier 1 status from Legal 500.

Notable Personal Injury Cases


MC v ASL [March 2024]

Acting for Claimant in fatal RTA, settled for £850k


GP v CC West Midlands Police [May 2023]

Acting for Claimant police officer run down in course of his employment, settled at JSM for £450k.


SG v AXA [February 2022]

Acting for Claimant in liability disputed RTA causing severe brain injury, settled at JSM for £750k.


DMD v SPS & anr [March 2021]

Acting for Claimant in bus v pedestrian brain injury case, settled at JSM for £1m.


Carver v BAA [2008] EWCA Civ 412

Appearing below and in the Court of Appeal in controversial case relating to Part 36 Offers.


Collins v Tesco [2003] EWCA Civ 1308

Court of Appeal guidance in relation to the approach to knowledge under Limitation Act 1980 s.14.


Inquests, Public Inquiries & Coronial Law

John practices the following areas:

Inquests, Public Inquiries & Coronial Law (Clinical Negligence)

John’s Clinical Negligence practice has often seen him instructed from the outset for the Inquest and thereafter the litigation. He handles these cases with utmost sensitivity and rigour, often before expert evidence is available.

Inquests, Public Inquiries & Coronial Law (Personal Injury)

John’s Serious Injury practice has often seen him instructed from the outset for the Inquest and thereafter the litigation. He handles these cases with utmost sensitivity and rigour, often before expert evidence is available.

Related News, Resources and Events

News


Webb v West Suffolk NHS FT

John Coughlan KC, instructed by Gurpreet Lalli of Irwin Mitchell LLP (Cambridge), achieved recent success at an application hearing in the case of Webb before…

News


Clinical Negligence Vlog – Khan v Meadows in the Supreme Court

WATCH ON YOUTUBE     This video discusses the decision with John Coughlan QC, Jodie Kembery, Jamie Gamble and Rebecca Livesey of No5’s Clinical Negligence…

View all related news

        

"He is an absolutely standout barrister who can turn around any kind of case." "He is able to advise clients in very technical issues in a concise, straightforward manner." "He has a brilliant manner with clients and has an aura which makes all of those involved feel at ease."


"An extremely diligent barrister with a keen eye for the details."


  • Deputy Head of Clincial Negligence Group
  • Director, No.5 Chambers
  • Head of Recruitment, No.5 Chambers
  • Director of Education & Training, Midland Circuit
  • LLB Hons Law (Bris) BCL (Oxon)

Related News, Resources and Events

News


Webb v West Suffolk NHS FT

John Coughlan KC, instructed by Gurpreet Lalli of Irwin Mitchell LLP (Cambridge), achieved recent success at an application hearing in the case of Webb before…

News


Clinical Negligence Vlog – Khan v Meadows in the Supreme Court

WATCH ON YOUTUBE     This video discusses the decision with John Coughlan QC, Jodie Kembery, Jamie Gamble and Rebecca Livesey of No5’s Clinical Negligence…

View all related news

Clerk Team

Geoff Carr

Director of Clerking (London)

geoffc@no5.com

07852 317495

Danny Griffiths

Director of Clerking (Birmingham)

danielg@no5.com

07960 831815

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