Barrister Vanessa Marshall

Vanessa Marshall QC

Year of call: 1994  Silk: 2018


“An excellent advocate who is able to engage the jury and put clients at ease.”



With a career as a Registered General Nurse at a London teaching hospital before coming to the Bar, Vanessa’s practice now has a particular focus on cases involving medical issues.

Her expertise straddles both the civil and criminal jurisdictions, offering not only the discipline and detail that civil paperwork brings, but also the skills and experience gained as a criminal advocate. In short, Vanessa is equally strong on paper and in court and will not be “court shy” when it comes to fighting a civil case to trial.



“Her work includes rape cases and matters with medical elements.” Legal 500 2016

Crime, prosecuting and defending. Special interest in cases involving medical issues, owing to previous RGN qualification. Regularly instructed in serious crime, including violence, blackmail, drug offences, rape, ancient child abuse, including abuse concerning very young children. Extensive experience being led in multi-handed murder inquiries for both prosecution and defence. Counsel to the Airedale Inquiry: 2009/10: Inquiry into management and practices of NNPs at Airedale NHS Trust, concerning nurse prescribing & IV administration of opiates, following stayed murder prosecution against a senior NNP.  Junior counsel for MDU/MPS in several prosecutions, defending GPs accused of sexual offences against patients.


  • Criminal Bar Association

Crime Cases

  • R v Wood (1/14) – 6 day trial defending allegations of sexual assault against a 4 year old girl. Cross-examination via video link and intermediary. Complicated expert evidence from Consultant Paediatricians on possible hymenal injury and application of the ROCP guidelines.
  • R v Dr Johnson –7 week trial in 2014 led, defending a GP re allegations of sexual abuse against 11 female patients, spanning 3 decades. Detailed analysis of medical records, expert GP evidence concerning techniques adopted during intimate examinations and whether treatment was medically necessary.
  • Instructed alone to respond to the AG’s unduly lenient reference in CA & to make a Goodyear application in a further indictment concerning sexual assaults of a family friend who was aged 14-16 at the time
  • R v Dunn (5/14) 6 day trial prosecuting allegations of sexual assault and sexual activity by a music teacher and conductor. 3 victims all under the age of consent at the time.
  • Currently instructed in a 6 handed blackmail, false imprisonment and GBH trial, defending the Vietnamese speaking first defendant – to be tried in Stafford for 6 weeks.
Clinical Negligence

Clinical Negligence

“A first-rate advocate, who goes above and beyond for her clients.”

Legal 500 2016

Vanessa has been recognised as an up and coming junior in the field of clinical negligence by The Legal 500. Her practice is primarily Claimant based. Her experience includes spinal injuries, cardiac, surgical procedures, neo-natal, birth mismanagement and cerebral palsy, dental, gynaecological and delayed diagnosis cases.

Her previous career, as an RGN specialising in acute medicine and surgery, has proved invaluable for this area of practice, not only in relation to the practical experience gained in the clinical setting, but also as to the day to day operations of a busy hospital and the multi-disciplinary teams working within it.


  • AvMA
  • PNBA

Clinical Negligence Cases

  • Fussell Dec’d v Milton Keynes General Hospital & Others (On-going): Misdiagnosis of cervical cancer.
  • David Pattrick (Deceased) (2013): Represented family of the deceased after he died following an operation to remove a gall bladder. Finding of “serious failings” in respect of the care given to the deceased.
  • Herbert Ward (Deceased) (2013): Represented family of the deceased after he suffered a serious head injury post operation falling from his bed in the recovery ward.
  • The Airedale Independent Inquiry [2010]: Inquiry into the deaths of patients due to administration of Morphine and diamorphine by nurses on nightshifts.
  • Carol Breeze (as Personal Representative of the Estate of Leonard Breeze, deceased) v Saheed Ahmed [2005] EWCA 223: Successfully appealed a decision on causation where a judge had accepted an expert’s evidence on a particular issue on the basis that it was supported by recent medical literature, which the Judge did not see and which was later shown, in fact, not to support the expert’s opinion.
Personal Injury

Personal Injury

Vanessa predominantly acts for the Defendant in personal injury cases and she is frequently instructed by the major insurance companies. She undertakes a broad range of personal injury work, including employers’ liability and road traffic claims.

Local authority liability is a particular area of focus and Vanessa is often instructed in stress at work and bullying claims.

She also has extensive experience in failure to educate claims and receives regular instructions on behalf of defendants in claims concerning failure to detect and treat dyslexia and other special educational needs. As junior counsel to Kate Thirlwall QC, Vanessa appeared for Leicestershire County Council in the successful defence of over 100 claims brought as a class action.

Vanessa has published and given seminars on the topic of failure to educate.

Personal Injury Cases

  • Russell v Thomas Cook (2010): Acting for Defendant in injury claim whilst on holiday.
  • Blackmore v Thomas Cook (2008): Representing the Defendant in case brought by Claimant alleging injury whilst on a package holiday arranged by the Defendant.
Public Law

Public Law

Vanessa’s civil experience also extends into the disciplinary arena. She appears before the Care Standards Tribunal, a recent example being the successful defence of a social worker who was challenging the decision to include him on a list of those deemed unsuitable to work with children. Building on her expertise in failure to educate claims, Vanessa also accepts instructions in cases involving all aspects of education law including appeals to sendist.

Given her medico-legal experience, Vanessa is often instructed to represent medical professionals in disciplinary proceedings. She recently appeared before the General Dental Council on behalf of a dentist facing allegations of gross misconduct and is now representing him in a civil fraud action bought by the NHSLA in the QBD.

Vanessa has also developed a growing practice in prison law and is now regularly instructed in both adjudication and parole board hearings in prisons around the country.

Public Law Cases

  • GDC v Govind (on-going): Disciplinary tribunal relating to gross misconduct.
  • The Airedale Independent Inquiry [2010]: Inquiry into the deaths of patients due to administration of Morphine and diamorphine by nurses on nightshifts.
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