In 2017, James was instructed to represent the family of a 32-year-old woman who had tragically committed suicide in 2015 following an acute deterioration of her mental health. The deceased was an informal psychiatric inpatient at the time of her death and, despite several previous suicide attempts, was allowed out on unescorted leave in contravention of her care plan. She walked in front of an oncoming train. The deceased was a freelance translator and interpreter and left behind two young daughters, aged 2 and 4 at the time.

The coroner in the case had originally ruled that a traditional Jamieson-style inquest was appropriate. James represented the deceased’s family throughout the subsequent inquest proceedings. Following submissions made at a second pre-inquest review, the coroner overturned his original decision and accepted that ECHR Article 2 was engaged. James then represented the family at the inquest hearing and subsequently advised them on potential causes of action in civil proceedings.

The deceased’s mother decided to bring proceedings on behalf of the deceased’s estate, the two young daughters as dependants under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, and in her own name under the Human Rights Act 1998. James advised and represented her throughout.

The claim was finally settled in 2020 for a total of £450,000. James appeared for the family at the approval hearing held before Master Cook at the High Court in London. The settlement of the claim was approved, as was the apportionment of the settlement which included significant sums by way of lost dependency to both daughters equally, as well as a sum payable to the deceased’s mother by way of damages under the Human Rights Act 1998.

James Macdonald was instructed by Wayne Walker of Williamsons Solicitors.

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