Steven Ford QC
Steven’s practice focuses on personal injury and professional negligence claims involving social workers, medical professionals and teachers. He represents local authorities, charities and private social care, religious and educational establishments in claims concerning child abuse, social care and educational negligence, stress at work, bullying and deliberate injury. He acts in clinical negligence cases, with a particular focus on claims involving psychiatric damage. He is experienced in all types of personal injury claims. He appears before disciplinary tribunals and at inquests and other enquiries. He advises public sector and corporate bodies on compliance issues associated with his areas of practice.
Steven is described in Chambers and Partners as a “redoubtable new silk” (2011), an “excellent advocate” (2013) “whose reputation on child abuse cases has risen to great heights” (2012). Prior to taking silk in 2010 Steven was recommended as a leading personal injury junior in both the Legal 500 and Chambers.
Steven regularly speaks and writes on personal injury, professional negligence and related topics. Recent seminars include “Claims against Children’s Services” jointly hosted by 7 Bedford Row and Browne Jacobson (January 2012), AvMA’s quantum masterclass (April 2011), “local authority liability” given with Lord Hoffmann (October 2010) and “The baby P effect: local authority liability for abuse and neglect” with Berrymans Lace Mawer (March 2010).
Steven’s personal injury practice is particularly focused on the tort liability of local authorities, charities, religious orders and private social care and education providers.
He has appeared in many of the recent high profile cases in this area: Raggett, the case of the city solicitor who claimed damages of £4.4m for abuse by a catholic priest in childhood (by far the largest sum ever claimed in an abuse case) but was awarded just £54k; earlier in the same proceedings the Court of Appeal gave guidance on the proper approach to discretion under the Limitation Act in cases of assault; Woodland, in which the Court of Appeal confirmed that a school could delegate to an independent contractor its duty of care for a child (Supreme Court appeal pending); A-v-Hoare (the “lottery rapist” case), the leading House of Lords case on limitation in cases of deliberate sexual assault.
Steven has been instructed by Zurich Municipal/MMI in more child abuse cases than any other member of the Bar. He has represented many county and city councils, instructed directly or by major firms of insurance solicitors, in large group actions (200+ claimants) involving abuse and neglect. He regularly acts for church bodies and religious orders in abuse cases.
He has appeared in a number of the leading reported High Court cases concerning the negligent “failure to remove” children from abusive parents and carers. He acted in a multi-million pound claim brought by two boys catastrophically injured by their parents in their first few weeks of life, who allege that the local authority ought to have removed them from their parents’ care at birth. He has recently advised in a claim brought by a woman who alleges that the local authority’s negligent failure to remove her from the care of her abusive father in childhood resulted in her killing him, and the claim of a girl who alleged that the local authority negligently failed to remove her from her parents’ care before she bore three children to her father, who subsequently murdered them.
Steven undertakes other types of personal injury claims for both claimants and defendants. He recently recovered damages for the claimant in Reynolds, who was injured in a bicycle race during a team bonding day. Reynolds is the leading case on the liability of an employer in such circumstances and the first case to consider the meaning of Regulation 3(2)(e) of the PPEW Regulations 1992. He acts in fatal accident cases, asbestos-related and other disease cases, stress at work claims, Animals Act claims, work accidents cases and bullying and harassment claims. He has particular experience and expertise in cases concerning limitation and psychiatric injury.
Steven acts in clinical negligence cases, particularly claims involving psychiatric damage.
Recent examples include the successful defence of a claim alleging that negligence speech and language therapy had resulted in exacerbation of the claimant’s schizophrenia, and a claim by a psychiatric in-patient alleging that over-prescribing of psychotropic medication by medical staff in a private secure hospital had resulted in neuropathic malignant syndrome.
He recently advised in a case involving allegations that a consultant paediatrician negligently failed to identify that injuries caused to children shortly after birth were non-accidental.
Steven regularly appears at inquest turning on medical issues. A recent example was the highly publicised inquest into the death of Bonnie Mason, where the Coroner found that anomalies in the Ambulance Trust’s computer system had resulted in the ambulance response time being inappropriately downgraded.
Public & Regulatory Law
Steven appears before disciplinary tribunals (medical and social care) and at inquests and other enquiry.
He represented the Local Education Authority at a high profile inquest into the death of schoolgirl Bunmi Shagaya, who drowned whilst on a school trip in Northern France, and a local authority at the inquest into the suicide of a child who hanged herself whilst in a residential care home. He recently represented the family of a woman who died whilst waiting for an ambulance, resulting in a chance in the ambulance service’s priority dispatch system.
Steven acted for a number of Health Authority employees in the Kerr/Haslam public enquiry in York into the sexual abuse of patients by two NHS Consultant Psychiatrists.
He advises public sector and corporate bodies on compliance issues associated with his areas of practice. He has recently advised a large fast food restaurant chain on its vetting and barring obligations under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006.
Recent reported cases
■ Dunn-v-Durham  EWCA Civ 1654: Court of Appeal guidance on disclosure of social services and similar records in abuse claims; interplay between DPA 1998, HRA 1998, PII and CPR
■ Raggett-v-Governors of Preston Catholic College  EWHC 3112 (QB) Swift J: high profile claim by solicitor claiming damages of £4.4m for sexual abuse committed by a Catholic Priest
■ Woodland-v-Essex County Council  EWCA Civ 239: a school can delegate to an independent contractor its common law duty to take reasonable care for a pupil (Supreme Court appeal pending)
■ Devereux-v-Hayward  EWHC 2780 (QB) Cox J: highway collision between horse and motorcycle
■ Reynolds-v-Strutt & Parker  EWHC 2263 (QB): duty owed by employer when employee injured at team bonding event; meaning of Regulation 3(2)(e) of PPEW 1992
■ Raggett-v-Governors of Preston Catholic College  EWCA Civ 1002: Court of Appeal guidance on exercise of discretion under the Limitation Act in cases of assault
■ NXS-v-London Borough of Camden  EWHC 1786 (QB) Swift J: local authority liability for failing to remove child from abusive parent
■ TCD-v-London Borough of Harrow and others  EWHC 3048 (QB) Eady J: limitation in failure to remove claims
■ A v Hoare: C v Middlesbrough Council: X & Anor v London Borough of Wandsworth: H v Suffolk County Council: Young v Catholic Care & Ors  UKHL 6; (2008) 2 WLR 311: landmark House of Lords ruling on the limitation period in cases involving deliberate sexual assault
■ Crowley-v-Surrey County Council and others  EWHC 1102 (QB) Foskett J: allegations of professional negligence against speech and language therapists
■ Browne Jacobson symposium on children’s claims (February 2013)
■ AvMA quantum masterclass (April 2011)
■ Local authority liability: Veitch Penny Personal Injury Conference (October 2010)
■ The baby P effect: local authority liability for abuse and neglect; with Berrymans Lace Mawer (March 2010)
■ Asbestos-related diseases; a 7 Bedford Row seminar (October 2009)
■ The Limitation Lottery: Abuse claims after Hoare; a 7 Bedford Row seminar (May 2008)
■ Professional Negligence Bar Association
■ AvMA Bar Group
■ Midland Circuit
Contact Steven Ford QC
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7242 3555
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7242 2511