Richard Copnall

Called 1990

Extremely keen on the details - he is good in conference and is also a good advocate.

Chambers & Partners 2022 (Band 1 Personal Injury)

About

Richard specialises in claims involving harm caused by professionals working in the public sector, including the NHS, local authorities, police, prison, probation, armed forces, central government departments and associated solicitors’ negligence claims. Such claims typically involve the Human Rights Act in addition to traditional common law claims. He practices in the coroner’s court, the Court of Protection, the divisional court (for judicial review) as well as the mainstream civil courts.

His work cuts across the conventional divisions between: personal injury clinical negligence; professional negligence; inquests; court of protection and abuse and this is reflected in Richard’s listing in 4 practice areas and in both Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.

He acts for claimants and defendants and undertakes direct access work in appropriate cases.

Richard was on the Attorney General’s panel for 10 years and was often instructed in media sensitive inquests on behalf of central government departments. He has extensive experience in the Court of Appeal and in 2019 was leading counsel in a successful case before the Supreme Court. He edited the first and second editions of the APIL Guide to Pleadings. He provides regular training to practitioners, particularly in the application of the Human Rights Act to traditional “common law” litigation.

His academic background is in science, and he is often at an advantage in cases involving technical, engineering, medical and accounting issues. He retains a good working knowledge of French (being fluent when living in Brussels as a child) and his Italian is improving.

The guides have described him as: “confident assured and bright”;very thorough in his approach and one of the best cross-examiners on circuit”; undertaking “erudite analysis of cases”; providing “a high-quality service” and “a non-nonsense barrister who gets on and does the job.” They note that he: “takes the burden off the client”, “has flair in court”; solicitors “feel confident on difficult cases when they know that he is on their side”; “He’s very empathetic and puts the client at ease when explaining the next steps.” and “He’s diligent, considered, methodical and very reassuring”.

Legal 500.

Chambers and Partners

Areas of Expertise

Accolades

The foundation of Richard’s practice was mainstream personal injury work of all types. He was at the cutting edge of the development of the law on the “6 pack”. He undertakes all aspects of high value personal injury including: catastrophic injuries; fatal accidents; Article 2 claims; RTA, employers’ liability, public liability; fatal accidents; nervous shock; MIB; accidents abroad; holidays; assaults; defective premises; product liability; occupiers’ liability; highways; schools; residential homes and other areas of public liability.

Member of PIBA

Legal 500 ranked Tier 1 leading junior for personal injury.
Chambers and Partners ranked “band 1” for personal injury.

Legal 500

Chambers and Partners

All aspects of historic and non-historic abuse of children and vulnerable adults including: failures by local authorities to safeguard; abuse in all environments including: schools, children’s homes, foster placements, clubs, supported living and care homes.

Richard has particular expertise in the application of the Human Rights Act to such claims, including claims under Article 3, Article 5, Article 6 and Article 8.

All aspects of professional negligence, with a particular focus on:

  1. Solicitors’ negligence arising from Richard’s practice areas;
  2. Failures by professionals in the public sector giving rise to physical and mental harm, such as: social workers, prison and probation staff, police officers; firefighters; healthcare professionals; “complementary” practitioners (such as chiropractors); and engineers;

 

Richard has particular expertise in the application of the Human Rights Act to such claims, including claims under Article 2 (right to life), Article 3 (mistreatment), Article 5 (deprivation of liberty), Article 6 (access to the courts) and Article 8 (family life) and associated inquests in fatal claims.

Richard is a member of the PNBA

Legal 500 ranked Tier 1 leading junior for professional negligence.

Legal 500:

https://www.legal500.com/firms/9565-chambers-of-james-murphy/9565-leeds-england/lawyers/653343-richard-copnall/

https://chambers.com/lawyer/richard-copnall-uk-bar-14:224364

All areas of medical, paramedical and nursing negligence, including: psychiatric; care homes; general practice and cosmetic surgery.

Richard has particular expertise in the application of the Human Rights Act to such claims, including claims under Article 2, Article 3, Article 5 and associated inquests in fatal claims.

Richard is a member of AvMA and the PNBA.

Legal 500 leading junior for clinical negligence.
Chambers and Partners, leading junior for clinical negligence

Legal 500
Chambers and Partners

 

Richard is probably the most experienced inquest practitioner in the region. His inquest work began 20 years ago when he spent 10 years on the Attorney General’s list, undertaking numerous inquests on behalf of the prison service, each lasting a number of weeks, with significant media sensitivities and all with Human Rights Act elements and many with a jury. He continues to appear regularly in long inquests relating to deaths in prison, police custody, hospitals, mental health facilities, care homes, and for those under the care of the ambulance service and mental health trust in the community.

Legal 500 ranked Tier 1 leading junior for inquests and enquiries.
Chambers and partners: leading junior for inquests and public enquiries.

Legal 500
Chambers and Partners

 

Richard acts for local authorities, CCGs and other public bodies in all aspects of CoP work, with a particular focus on health and welfare issues.

Chambers and Partners 2022 - (Band 2) Clinical Negligence "He always thinks outside the box and as an advocate he puts forward very technically savvy submissions both on paper and in advocacy hearings."

Chambers and Partners 2022 - Northern Bar (Band 2) Professional Negligence "Richard is prompt, knowledgeable and able to distil the issues in an evolving area of law."

Chambers and Partners 2022- The Regions (Band 2) Inquests and Inquiries "He's a very good advocate and is able to calmly and ably explain things in a sensitive manner." "He is well prepared and his ability to deal with a lot of evidence is impressive."

Chambers and Partners 2022- (Band 1) Personal Injury  "Extremely keen on the details - he is good in conference and is also a good advocate."

Legal 500 2022 - (Tier 1) Inquest and Inquiries  "He is very logical, organised and has a commanding presence as an advocate. Coroners and defendants respect him."

Legal 500 2022 - (Tier 1) Personal Injury  "A barrister who quickly identifies the issues which need to be determined, and wastes not a word in his pleadings or submissions. ’

Legal 500 2022 - (Tier 2) Clinical Neligence

Chambers and Partners 2022 - (Band 1) Personal Injury  "Extremely keen on the details - he is good in conference and is also a good advocate".

Legal 500 2021 - (Tier 2) Clinical NegligenceHe is technically astute and extremely competent with a no-nonsense approach.

Legal 500 2021 - (Tier 1) Personal InjuryHe is technically astute and extremely competent with a no-nonsense approach.

Legal 500 2021 - (Tier 1) Inquests and InquiriesThoroughly prepared and organised for any eventuality. Great rapport with clients and strong, tactical and sensical advocacy which gets to the route of the matter. Adaptable to different cases and works well under high pressure.

Legal 500 2021 - (Tier 1) Professional NegligenceA standout senior-junior.’ Known for his commanding presence at trial and in negotiations, making him a powerful representative for clients. He principally acts in high-value catastrophic injury cases, though he also represents clients during inquests, and has additional experience in human rights issues. He is able to draw on his scientific background when advising on cases with complex technical elements. Strengths: "He's very empathetic and puts the client at ease when explaining the next steps." "He's diligent, considered, methodical and very reassuring." "A very bright barrister with excellent analytical skills. He's superb at cross-examinations."

Chambers & Partners 2021 (Band 1) Personal Injury "He provides clear and concise advice."

Chambers & Partners 2021 (Band 2) Clinical Negligence "He thinks outside the box in terms of how to technically progress a claim and he has a very good eye for detail."

Chambers & Partners 2021 (Band 2) Inquests & Public Inquiries "If you have an inquest where you know the other side is going to be tricky, he is the one to instruct because you know he will get the result you need."

Chambers & Partners 2020 (Band 1) Personal Injury Earns considerable praise for his work in clinical inquests that lead to civil claims. His matters include cases concerning failures of hospital staff to provide appropriate care, as well as failures to properly monitor patients with mental health issues. He possesses a strong command of surgical negligence issues. Strengths: "He is good in dealings with clients: he's reassuring and good at guiding them through the process."

Chambers and Partners 2020 (Band 3) Clinical Negligence "A strong clinical negligence junior"

Legal 500 2020 - (Tier 1) Clinical Negligence "A very experienced and professional barrister who is strong in conference with clients and takes a no-nonsense approach in negotiations with the other side. He is the go-to person for complex and high-value cases." "He is robust but always sensible, giving clear and confident advice. He knows how to make the complicated uncomplicated."

Legal 500 2020 (Tier 1) Inquests and InquiriesAnalytical, persuasive and highly intelligent.

Chambers & Partners 2019 (Band 2) Clinical Negligence "A highly intelligent barrister who masters complex issues with ease. He presents his points in a concise way so the client has an excellent understanding of the process. Highly skilled in cross-examination, he is particularly good on complex expert evidence."

Legal 500 2018/2019 - Inquests and Inquiries "Confident, intelligent and assertive in cross-examination." Richard "is well known for handling Article 2 inquests, often pertaining to deaths in custody and in prison."

Legal 500 2018/2019 - Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence "He leaves no stone unturned in a case."

Chambers & Partners 2018 (Band 2) Clinical Negligence Earns considerable praise for his work on clinical negligence inquests that lead to civil claims. His matters include cases concerning failures of medical care, as well as failures to properly monitor patients with mental health issues. Strengths: "He is extremely experienced, bright and good technically but equally he's very approachable and good with clients." "Very reliable, never pulls out of commitments and clients always relate to him. He's good at telling them what they need to hear and ensures that there is objectivity and their expectations aren't raised too high." Recent work: Acted in Todd v Barchester which involved shortcomings in medical care in a care home after a resident suffered a fractured hip which led to her death.

Chambers & Partners 2018 (Band 1) Personal Injury Known for his commanding presence at trial and in negotiations, making him a powerful representative for clients. He principally acts in high-value catastrophic injury cases, though he also represents clients during inquests, and has additional experience in human rights issues. Strengths: "You can see his scientific background in his analysis. He's an eminently reasonable chap. You are taken away by the flow of his logic." "Sharp, confident, clear and always well prepared. When he speaks you listen and take on board what he's saying." Recent work: Acted for the claimant in a motor accident claim against the Secretary of State for Transport, which raised issues of the extent to which the defendant is required to gather and consider accident data in order to discharge its Article 2 duties to motorists.

Legal 500 2018 - Inquests & Inquiries "Superb on his feet with a keen eye for detail."

Legal 500 2017 - Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence "A very strong advocate and negotiator."

Chambers & Partners 2017 - Clinical Negligence Earns considerable praise for his work on clinical negligence inquests that lead civil claims. Strengths: "He is analytical, very sharp and really gets to the bottom of cases. He won't leave an issue alone until he can understand it and everyone else understands it." "He is a tough cross-examiner and a good person to get in when you have a difficult client."

Chambers & Partners 2017 - Personal Injury  Known for his commanding presence at trial and in negotiations, making him a powerful representative for clients. He principally acts in high-value catastrophic injury cases, though he also represents clients during inquests, and has additional experience in human right issues. Strengths: "He's very assertive, very robust and straight to the point. He doesn't waste his words; he's the man you want on a difficult negotiation settlement. "Very authoritive. He's the person you want in court if you had a very intricate legal argument to be put before a judge."

Legal 500 2016- "A man you want on your side in difficult cases."

Chambers & Partners 2016 Hugely well respected for his handling of high-value catastrophic injury cases on behalf of both claimants and defendants. Recognised expertise in cases with human rights aspects. Strengths: "He is very well prepared and has a charming manner. He has always done an excellent job." "He has the ability to get to the heart of the matter, making him an effective negotiator. He is very empathetic with clients."

Legal 500 2015 "Calm, good attention to detail, and very sensible"

Chambers & Partners 2015 "Specialises in high-figure clinical negligence and personal injury cases. He is also heavily engaged in inquests with regard to human rights issues in custody." Recent work: He acted in Iris Alison Pearson v South Tees Hospitals, a fatal claim arising from a post-operative overdose of anticoagulant that caused brain haemorrhage.

The Legal 500 2014 "Confident, assured and bright"

Chambers & Partners 2014 Handles high-value catastrophic claims, in addition to offering niche expertise in inquests and fatal claims, particularly in relation to deaths in hospital. Expertise: "He's very clever and very dogged; he prepares very well. He's methodical and persistent, and he gets very good results." Recent work: Copnall acted in the inquest into the death of Emma Stones, a 12-year-old with cerebral palsy who died from septicaemia while in hospital.

Chambers & Partners 2013 Richard focuses his practice on personal injury and clinical negligence work. He has an interesting niche in cases concerning the human rights issues raised by deaths in custody. He recently handled the case of Chan which concerned a catastrophic head injury caused by a failure to grit an icy road.

Chambers & Partners 2012 Richard is ranked under Band 1 making him one of the top 5 specialist Personal Injury practitioners on the North Eastern Circuit. Plaudits say he handles a steady stream of disease and accident work for such clients as the MOD and the Prison Service; he also undertakes inquiry work in the medical and mental areas.

Chambers & Partners 2011 A "very thorough in his approach and one of the best cross-examiners on circuit".

Chambers & Partners 2010 Richard Copnall's "erudite analysis of cases" was much commented upon. Solicitors "feel confident on difficult cases when they know that he is on their side."

Chambers & Partners 2009 Lauded for providing a high-quality service encompassing all areas of personal injury work, Richard Copnall "takes the burden off the client, always choosing to run with a deal rather than constantly seeking the client's opinion."

Legal 500 2007 'well known for his impressive court presence'.

Chambers & Partners 2007 a "sought-after advocate. Well versed in employers' liability and general personal injury matters, he has built a strong reputation for achieving best results in top-quality work."

Chambers & Partners 2006 "no-nonsense barrister who gets on and does the job."

Chambers & Partners 2005 Has 'flair in Court'

Personal Injury Bar Association (PIBA) Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) Professional Negligence Bar Association (PNBA) Association of Victims of Medical Accidents (AVMA)

Reported Cases

Xv Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 2021

Failure to treat glaucoma in a child leading to total blindness. Settled for £2million.

A v West Sussex County Council 2021 

Infant trafficked to the UK from Africa. Social worker conceals from the court that the mother has been identified and wishes to be re-united with her child. Court makes adoption order on the misunderstanding that the mother has abandoned the child.

L v Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 2021

Failures at birth leading to severe cerebral palsy. Settled with periodical payments equivalent to a lump sum in the region of £5 million.

 B v M 2021

Civil claim against an amateur football club arising from historic abuse.

Reported in: The Guardian , The Guardian (a second time), BBC

 

D v Ministry of Defence 2021

Army sergeant died when an IED in Afghanistan caused his vehicle to overturn.

Reported in: BBC, The Daily Mail 

 

 G v Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (2021)

Deceased suffered a heart attack. Paramedic arrived soon after, but delayed in entering the building and failed to use the defibrillator.

Reported in: BBC, Metro, Hull Daily Mail 

 

Re Ewan Brown 2020

Inquest following the failure of the police and NHS trust to safeguard the deceased who was experiencing the onset of psychosis and was detained in police custody rather than taken to a place of safety under the Mental Health Act.

Reported in: Chronicle Live and The Northern Echo

 

Edwards v Hugh James [2019] UKSC 54

Richard acted for the claimant at first instance, before the court of Appeal and was leading counsel before the Supreme Court. A solicitor’s negligence claim arising from the miners’ VWF compensation scheme. Now one of the leading cases on the valuation of a “lost chance”.

Re John Lawler November 2019

Inquest following “treatment” by a chiropractor causing a fractured cervical vertebra and the failure of the chiropractor to provide an accurate account to the attending paramedics.

Reported in: The Daily Mail, BBC and Metro

 

Re Dominic Sowa 2019

Inquest following the failure of the NHS Trust to safeguard the deceased against the risk of suicide.

Reported in: The Times, Independent, Yorkshire Post

 

X v Doncaster and Bassetlaw NHS Trust 2018

Incorrect choice of operation for congenital hip deformity. Settled a mediation for £475,000

S v Doncaster and Bassetlaw NHS Trust 2018

Anticoagulants stopped prior to cardio version resulting in strike and sight loss. Settled at mediation £680,000

Re Wayne Moore. November 2018

Inquest following the failure of the prison and multiple NHS trusts to prevent the deceased’s death from perforated duodenal ulcer.

Reported in: Nottingham Post

 

Re Jay Gascoigne 9/18

Inquest following a failure of the local authority and NHS trust to manage the deceased substance and mental health issues.

Reported in: Chronicle Live

 

Re Matthew Johnson

Inquest following the failure of the prison and NHS trust to protect the deceased from death by hanging.

Reported in: Yorkshire Evening Post

 

Re SR [2018] EWCOP 36

The court considered whether it was in P’s best interests to return to live with her husband, notwithstanding his publicly stated support for euthanasia.

Ridyard v Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWCA Civ 280

A prisoner was released on licence following a conviction for murdering his partner. In breach of the conditions of his licence, he entered into a (abusive) relationship with the Claimant, without informing the Defendant. Consideration of the scope of the common law duty of care owed by the probation service.  

Re Stephen Berry

Inquest following the failure of the police to obtain medical attention for the deceased who died in a police cell whilst intoxicated.

Reported in: Chronicle Live

 

Whitehead v Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement [2012] EWCA Civ 263

A game keeper suffered serious injuries when his shotgun discharged as his climbed over a wall. The court considered the application of the work equipment regulations.

Field v British Coal [2008] EWCA Civ 912

The meaning of “knowledge” under the s14 of the Limitation Act in an industrial deafness case.

Yorkshire Traction v Searby [2003] EWCA Civ 1856

The application of the Work Equipment Regulations to a bus following an assault by a passenger on the driver.

Green v Yorkshire Traction [2001] EWCA Civ 1925

The application of the Work Equipment Regulations to a bus following a slipping accident.

Hall v Bolton MBC [2001] EWCA CIV 1717

The duty owed by the defendant to a teaching assistant at a special school who was assaulted by a pupil.

Craven v Riches [2001] EWCA Civ 375

C was rendered quadriplegic following a motorcycle accident at a track day. Extent of duty owed by the organisers.

King v RCO [2000] I.C.R.608 (CA)

The application of the manual handling regulations to the spreading of grit.

Swain v Denso Marston [2000] I.C.R.1079 (CA)

 The application of the Manual Handling Regulations to urgent maintenance of machinery.

Stark v Post Office [2000] I.C.R. 1013 (CA)

 The leading case on the work equipment regulations, which established that the duty was absolute.

Dunn v Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 13/1/99 (CA)

Fall from a trolley whilst waiting in A&E.

Hall v Hi-Tec [1995] 10 WLUK (CA)

Crush injury to hand.

Attorney General's Junior Counsel to the Crown (Regional Panel) 2007-2012 and 2000-2007.

Editor - APIL Guide to Personal Injury Applications and Pleadings (Jordans, 2005); Editor - APIL Model Pleadings and Applications (Jordans, 2012); contributor to APIL Personal Injury Law, Practice and Precedents.

BSc (Hons) Physics and Applied Physics, Nottingham University