Serjeants' Inn Chambers

Inquests & Public Inquiries Department

London (Bar)
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Serjeants' Inn is recognised for having "a really strong group of barristers who cover a wide range of work" in the field. Its members have extensive experience handling inquests as well as high-profile public inquiries. Members are frequently instructed by the police, the NHS and other public bodies. Recent work includes involvement in the inquests into the Guildford Pub Bombings and the Shoreham Airshow Crash. Instructing solicitors note: "The barristers are excellent – very knowledgeable, fantastic advocates and very good with clients."

Client service: "The clerking is excellent, and an approachable and seamless service has been provided during the difficult period of lockdown." "The senior clerk Lee Johnson is always willing to assist and will go the extra mile." "I have been extremely impressed with Lee Johnson: his client service is brilliant. He is very organised, very responsive and builds a strong relationship with instructing solicitors."


Aaron Rathmell

Has attracted acclaim for his skilful handling of some of the most difficult briefs in recent times. He represents the police, as well as non-state actors, in inquests and inquiries presenting severe reputational jeopardy.
Strengths: "His attention to detail is extremely impressive, as is his encyclopedic knowledge of cases, and he gets right to detail and anticipates potential issues really quickly."
Recent work: Represented Boots at the inquest of a former customer, involving the examination of the role of a drug delivery error.


Bridget Dolan QC

Highly regarded advocate who regularly appears in complex inquests, including proceedings invoking Article 2 of the ECHR. In addition to her experience representing bereaved families and state agents, she frequently serves as counsel to the inquest. She is recognised as an authority on coronial law and is becoming a go-to choice to defend coroners' decisions in judicial review proceedings. 
Strengths: "The experience of dealing with her is immensely reassuring due to her consummate knowledge of the law, her tactical excellence and her exceptional humanity in dealing with people who are coming to terms with a difficult process, the outcome of which is critical to them." "Bridget Dolan is an exceptional lawyer who is highly respected in her field. Whilst she is at the top of her game she also has the ability to clearly explain complex issues in a way that everyone can understand."
Recent work: Acted as counsel to the Senior Coroner for West Sussex in the Shoreham Airshow inquest.


Briony Ballard

Predominantly acts in inquests, including Article 2 proceedings, which involve alleged or proven clinical negligence. She routinely receives instructions from healthcare professionals, NHS trusts and bereaved families. She is also adept in proceedings involving police or prison deaths, and has significant experience of inquests involving issues of mental health. She draws strength from her experience as an assistant coroner.
Strengths: "She is excellent for inquests and incredibly straightforward and honest. Clients have been really impressed with her." "You can really trust her. She's very affable, very focused and very precise. She is fantastic on her feet and is an incredible advocate, who brings gravitas and knowledge to the case."
Recent work: Represented the Corporation of London, owners of London Bridge, in the London Bridge and Borough Market Inquests. The client was responsible for protective security measures on the bridge.


Cecily White

A notable junior who has experience acting in sensitive jury inquests and public inquiries. She represents NHS trusts and police forces as well as families and professionals. 
Strengths: "She's incredibly intelligent. She is not aggressive but never lets anything get past her and never gives up." "Cecily is good on paper and very clever. She's very much in demand."
Recent work: Acted for the Metropolitan Police at the inquest touching the death of Sabina Rizvi, who was murdered outside Bexleyheath Police Station in 2013. The inquest scrutinised the force's investigations into known risks associated with her murderer.


Claire Watson

Well versed in Article 2 inquests, typically involving complex and sensitive issues such as mental health and the adequacy of medical care. Her clients include NHS trusts, bereaved families and police forces.
Strengths: "Her advocacy is absolutely excellent."
Recent work: Acted on behalf of an NHS trust in the Article 2 jury inquest touching the death of Taylor Williams, a teenager who died by suicide in a children's home run by the trust.


Debra Powell QC

A popular choice for inquests concerning clinical negligence. She habitually represents bereaved families, healthcare professionals, NHS trusts and other state agents. She also has experience in Article 2 inquests involving police and prison deaths. Her broad practice additionally sees her regularly appearing in public inquiries. 
Strengths: "Very experienced, thorough and down to earth. She's very straight-talking and clear, and is liked by clients."
Recent work: Represented the Welsh Blood Service in the Infected Blood Inquiry.


Gerard Boyle QC

Has considerable experience of handling high-profile inquests and public inquiries. He is routinely called upon by police forces and health services, including NHS trusts.
Strengths: "He is excellent leading counsel. He has great attention to detail and is very accessible."
Recent work: Represented the National Police Chiefs Council in the Undercover Policing Inquiry.


James Berry

Favoured by a number of police forces and NHS trusts for advice and representation in major public inquiries and Article 2 inquests.
Strengths: "He is an extremely competent barrister who has dealt with all matters confidently and enthusiastically. He has been a pleasure to work with and brings a very keen analytical eye to complex issues, particularly in the area of police law and practice."
Recent work: Represented the Metropolitan Police Commissioner as lead junior during Phase 3 of the Undercover Policing Inquiry.


John Beggs QC

Standout silk who typically acts for police forces facing considerable scrutiny in inquests which attract major publicity, particularly those involving Article 2 proceedings, and as core participants in public inquiries. He habitually advises on the adequacy of police investigations, as well as deaths resulting from actions or omissions made by the police. He is also adept in the representation of the bereaved in matters not involving the police. 
Strengths: "He fights his client's corner fearlessly and tenaciously. He always comes out fighting and is a bloody good cross-examiner." "He is one of the best barristers I have come across and being around him you learn so much."
Recent work: Acted on behalf the wife of Alexander Perepilichnyy at his inquest, which examined allegations made by Hermitage Capital Management that Mr Perepilichnyy was poisoned by agents of the Russian state.


Matthew Holdcroft

Admired as a thoroughly modern junior who can be relied upon to find the right tone in the most sensitive cases. He is a firm favourite of police forces and additionally represents the NHS in high-profile inquests and public inquiries.
Strengths: "Incredibly good at managing cases."


Paul Spencer

Well known for his handling of complex inquests arising out of health and social care. He receives instructions from NHS trusts, care homes, psychiatric hospitals, regulatory bodies, doctors and others. He is also capable of handling parallel disciplinary actions.
Strengths: "Paul Spencer is charming with clients, opponents, coroners and judges alike. He is conscientious and analytical. He has represented a range of public and independent organisations in inquiries at the highest levels of public scrutiny. He is a trusted and valued adviser and advocate."
Recent work: Represented Doncaster Royal Infirmary at the inquest touching the death of the rugby player Ian Williams, who died of a heart problem after attending A&E at the hospital.


Robert Francis QC

Has extensive experience of appearing in, and chairing, public inquiries. He is particularly adept at handling proceedings in the healthcare context. Recently, he has also been involved in matters involving police law. 
Strengths: "In the medical field he is one of the very best."
Recent work: Represented the National Police Chiefs Council in the Undercover Policing Inquiry.